Thursday, January 18, 2007

Maron/Cox to team up for a raunchy "Meet The Press" concept

Pitched as "Meet the Press" but with nudity and graphic language, "The Gaggle" is a new concept being tested out by HBO.

For hosts, the network grabbed former Wonkette blogger Ana Marie Cox, currently the Washington editor of, and former Air America Radio talker Marc Maron. "The Gaggle" will have its debut at the U.S. Comedy Festival next month. So far, it's being conceived as a one-off panel just for the HBO-sponsored fest, but this event serves as a sort of live development slate for the network. Radar Online reports that HBO is testing the waters for a Sunday morning alternative to NBC's "Meet the Press" and ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" that would feature Cox, Maron, and two rotating panelists grilling whatever political figures they can convince to appear.

The festival's press release pitches it as a "smart, funny, provocative" attempt to bring the "freewheeling approach of ESPN-style sports talk to politics and pop culture."

An HBO source said that "everything at the comedy fest is a potential development idea for HBO," but played down the notion of a new entrant to the Sunday morning field. "Maybe someone had that thought, but I don't think it came from the network."

The show sounds like it would be an ideal fit with other HBO news/comedy fare such as "Real Time with Bill Maher." HBO parent Time Warner also produces "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" for sister cable outlet Comedy Central.

Speaking of "The Colbert Report," host Stephen Colbert will be the recipient of the festival's inaugural Person of the Year Award. Speaking by press release, Colbert said, "I am humbled to be part of the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival's tireless efforts to bring joy to the wealthy."

The 13th annual USCAF is set for Feb. 28 through March 4.


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