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The lighter 'site' of the news

June 07, 2006|By Chris Wiebe

Armed with a green screen and donated cameras, the cast and crew of "Goodnight Burbank" is taking advantage of Internet technology to broadcast their satirical newscast to anyone with a computer or an iPod.

Since its first "web-i-sode" on March 19, "Goodnight Burbank" has streamed six installments online, and is closing in on 1 million downloads from viewers worldwide ? as far away as Germany, Japan and even Saudi Arabia.

"It's both exciting and frightening," said 38-year-old Burbank resident Hayden Black, who plays a co-anchor and writes the script for the show. "God forbid you insult the wrong person."

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Each episode (which can be viewed at www.goodnightburbank.com) is five minutes long, covering national and global news, as well as running a local Burbank news story. But the candid, often cutting delivery from the "Goodnight Burbank" "news team" often reveals far more about the people delivering the news than the actual news itself, Black said.

Black hatched the idea for Goodnight Burbank one day as he watched his parents watch the news.

"I thought that my parents' experiences were really a national experience, in that, if you don't know someone on television, they have this sort of gravitas," Black said. "You trust them to know what they're talking about."

But the dysfunctional co-anchors on "Goodnight Burbank" ? Gordon Winston-Smythe, played by Black; and Susan Jones, played by actress Jamie Denbo ? often upstage their breaking stories, venting off-air tidbits most viewers can identify with.

"It's all about what are people's perspectives on the news," Black said. "It's fine to make a joke about Bush but how does that really affect people?"

As the show gains popularity, Black said companies with a "large Internet presence" have begun to approach him that are interested in purchasing the rights to "Goodnight Burbank." But for now, Black prefers to let the show grow on its own.

"The Internet provides the unique opportunity to allow you to find a voice, an audience and develop an idea that could be a great TV show maybe six months down the road," Black said.

What has driven "Goodnight Burbank" is a willingness to embrace the kind of comedy that the creators enjoy, said Angela Espinosa, who plays the news girl, weather girl and astrologer on the show.

"When you're in the business you are always trying to figure out what makes other people laugh," she said. "With this we just thought, 'Forget it. What makes us laugh?' The minute we did that people started coming out of the woodwork to help and be part of it in any way possible.

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