SAN FRANCISCO — When Steve Goldbloom pitched the Web television show “Everything But the News” to PBS, he thought the chances of getting funding were next to zero. Among other things, the show uses real “PBS NewsHour” hosts to introduce satirical segments that skewer TV journalism.
“I just didn’t think they would agree, because I was basically asking for money to make fun of them,” Goldbloom says. “What are the odds that they would say yes?”
Co-created by childhood friends Goldbloom and Noah Pink, “Everything But the News” is a semi-fictitious series, featuring a “NewsHour” reporter (not really) interviewing tech figures in the Bay Area (they’re very real), in the process lampooning both the startup culture and the self-conscious veneer of news reporting. It’s also PBS’ first original online-comedy show.
The work of “Borat” creator Sacha Baron Cohen would be the obvious comparison, except the joke is seldom on the subject. The biggest victim in the five- and six-minute segments is host Goldbloom, who remains a “NewsHour” loyalist in the segments — even when his hopes of becoming a serious reporter are continually dashed.
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That part is mostly real as well. The San Francisco resident, who grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, says he is a huge fan of the show, and was appropriately awe-struck when he landed a job as a segment producer at “PBS NewsHour” in 2007. But he found additional entertainment behind the scenes, and told the powers that be at PBS that it could make a good miniseries.
PBS executives agreed, and gave Goldbloom and Pink a modest five-figure budget. They spent most of last summer using sketch comedians they knew for some of the roles (such as quirky car passengers in a spot about Uber and Lyft) and lining up interviews.
“It was pretty much (nothing) until Uber CEO Travis Kalanick signed on, then we played the game: ‘Well, Travis of Uber is doing the show,’ “ Goldbloom says. “Then everyone wanted to do it.”
On the show, Goldbloom is funny, bumbling, a little beaten down and mostly harmless — somewhere between Michael Scott from the U.S. version of “The Office” and correspondent Jason Jones from “The Daily Show.” The first episode, titled “What Would Jim Lehrer Do?,” sends Goldbloom to a VidCon conference, where he learns, among other things, that the PBS style of broadcast journalism may be a hard fit when you’re covering a bunch of online video-loving nerds.
Living and working in San Francisco is grist for the comedy. In one episode, it is revealed that Goldbloom and Pink have their beds pushed together, because of the space issues in their $2,000-per-month living quarters.
In person, Goldbloom, a 30-year-old Mission District resident, is just as funny, a little less bumbling and elated with the support “Everything But the News” has received.
Goldbloom was so worried the project would never see light of day, he didn’t tell friends and co-workers about the show until it was shot, edited and received blessing from PBS officials.
Goldbloom says the most stressful time came during a long night after he sent the finished product to “PBS NewsHour” executive producer Linda Winslow, his former boss, whose approval was needed before the segments aired. She wrote back that she was thrilled.
Since then, he said, “NewsHour” executives and talent have been the greatest champions of the series.
“I call, like once every week, to see if anyone is pissed off yet,” Goldbloom says. “ ‘Is anybody angry?’ ‘No, we love it.’ Gwen (Ifill) and Judy (Woodruff) are tweeting abut it. And the truth is, I love them. I love that show.”