This was posted Thursday, March 30, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Last year, TBS's "Full Frontal With Samantha Bee" aired a piece about how Georgia State Sen. Renee Unterman had blocked a Georgia bill that requires police departments to test hundreds, if not thousands, of untested rape kits.
A few months ago, House Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) was in New York and stopped by "Full Frontal" and told them how the bill ultimately got passed. The show producers wanted to do a piece so they chose to go a rather unconventional route Wednesday night, using animation.
"We didn't want to do cheesy re-enactments," said Pat King, who produced the piece with Hannah Wright. "Animation seemed like the perfect fit and a fun way to do it."
While Holcomb and House speaker David Ralston are played as heroes in the segment, state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) - who initially blocked the bill because it didn't come from her - comes off poorly as she did in the original piece, even in cartoon form.
(In a story written by my colleague Kyle Wingfield, Unterman bit back today on the floor, saying this type of coverage will serve her well in her "red meat Republican district," calling Bee "vile" and using foul language that is "awful." Holcomb called her opposition to the bill "unfounded" and "widely chronicled.")
Holcomb, in a text Thursday morning, said his five-year-old this morning asked him, "Daddy, do you like cartoons?" He answered, "Yes, I do sweetie. Yes, I do." He thought the animator Daniel Spenser "did some incredible work."
Watch it here:
The purpose of doing the piece, Wright said, was to highlight a story showing that bipartisanship can happen at the state level.
"People forget about getting involved locally," King said. "They focus on the presidency and Congress and go home for four years. The message is that if you want to do something positive in politics, you don't have to turn to D.C. You can run for the board of education or the local legislature."
This also happened to be a very Georgia-centric episode. Besides making a funny joke about the Falcons in the opening salvo, Bee did an entire piece about how a disgraced judge named Johnnie Caldwell became the House rep. in the 131st District, including Thomaston south of Atlanta. Her lament: why nobody has bothered to run against him. She said this is why the state is far from becoming "purple" as many pundits have proffered. Gerrymandering was referenced as well. She used 11Alive investigation pieces by Brendan Keefe about Caldwell as fodder.
"We always appreciate when our work is seen widely and fosters a conversation about the issues," Keefe said in a text Thursday morning. (Keefe's 911 story was the basis of a 2016 John Oliver piece, which spurred Governor Nathan Deal to appoint members to the long dormant 911 Advisory Committee. "It's clear that our local investigations are making an impact when you see them engaged by a national audience," Keefe added.)
"Full Frontal" has been the No. 1 late-night show year to date among 18 to 34 year olds, averaging 3.9 million viewers across multiple platforms so far.