Jewish camp buds make news mockumentaries on PBS

Jewish camp buds make news mockumentaries on PBS

In ‘Everything But The News,’ Canadian comedo-journalist Steve Goldbloom hilariously puts himself on the frontlines

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Steve Goldbloom reports from Vidcon in episode 1 of 'Everything But The News.' (Courtesy of Steve Goldbloom)
Steve Goldbloom reports from Vidcon in episode 1 of 'Everything But The News.' (Courtesy of Steve Goldbloom)

Steve Goldbloom is not your usual hard-working young journalist. Most notably, he doesn’t want to be taken all that seriously. In fact, he wants people to laugh at his recent video coverage of the California tech scene.

These videos are the 10 episodes of “Everything But The News,” a new, original comedy series for PBS Digital Studios that exposes the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of a cub reporter named Steve Goldbloom (played by Goldbloom himself) sent to San Francisco by the PBS NewsHour. The mockumentary-style production has him visiting with and interviewing the founders of some of the world’s best-known start-ups.

In other words, Goldbloom is charged with explaining how these companies’ technologies are disrupting many aspects of our daily lives. The challenge for the overly eager and often befuddled Goldbloom, is to do this without disrupting his producer’s life to the point that he gets himself fired from the stringer gig.

Goldbloom isn’t just making this stuff up. His years working as a news producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Company and PBS have taught him a thing or two about what goes on behinds the scenes of the nightly news. While putting together “Everything But The News,” he’s kept his day job as a senior news producer with Independent Television Service, a funder, producer and promoter of independent filmmaking for public television, in San Francisco.

“I have always loved the news,” Goldbloom tells The Times of Israel. As a high school student in Toronto, he interned on the night shift at a radio station, and later in college he got turned on to the PBS NewsHour, which eventually led him to a Washington D.C.-based job as a segment producer for the program.

The idea for “Everything But The News” came from what he observed about news-gathering. “I saw a lot of humor and artificiality in it,” Goldbloom says. He had a feeling he had enough fodder for a project that would lovingly send up his chosen profession.

At that point, he pulled in his old Jewish summer camp buddy Noah Pink, a Toronto filmmaker. Goldbloom and Pink, now both 30, met at Camp Kadimah in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, but had actually known each years earlier. Their mothers used to go on walks together in Halifax when they were both pregnant with their sons, and also after the boys were born. Goldbloom also asked Daniel Rattner, 31, another old camp friend, to join the “Everything But The News” team as a writer.

PBS executives decided to give Goldbloom and his friends a chance with their web series idea after they saw a couple of funny videos the young men had made for the network in 2012 and 2013. They were of Goldbloom’s attempts to be taken seriously at the Sundance Film Festival.  He didn’t manage to get in to many of the festival’s parties, but he proved quite good at schmoozing the crowd and posing as a wannabe film auteur (or mogul, depending on who he was trying to impress).

‘Believe it or not, I went to PBS and told them, ‘I would be interested in making fun of you and your process,’ and they loved it’

“Believe it or not, I went to PBS and told them, ‘I would be interested in making fun of you and your process,’ and they loved it,” Goldbloom recounts.

Goldbloom decided to cover the tech scene, thinking that it was something most people living outside the Silicon Valley bubble would want demystified.

“I wanted it to be fun and accessible, and by my coming in and acting like I wasn’t very familiar with technology, I was able to get the subjects I interviewed to speak in a different way than they normally do,” he explained.

In fact, in several episodes, he asks tech company executives to get on the phone with his mother to explain to her what they do in simple non-technophile terms she would understand.

Goldbloom and Pink (who plays Goldbloom’s cameraman and director, and stays behind the lens most of the time) entertain and inform about the influence of the latest technologies on transportation, fitness, education, and dating (Goldbloom opens his first JDate account on camera and hangs out with Joel Simkhai, the Tel Aviv-born founder and CEO of gay dating app Grindr).

Goldbloom seems to be in perpetual motion as he tries to pack substance into segments running just five minutes long.

It takes a keen eye to discern what in “Everything But The News” is scripted and what is improvisational.

‘We’re doing interviews with people, I’m putting myself out there’

“The outlines of each episode are scripted, but we have to do a lot of ad-libbing. We’re doing interviews with people, I’m putting myself out there,” Goldbloom says.

Some viewers have apparently not caught on that “Everything But The News” is a mockumentary. This is understandable when one considers that the series is being produced with the full cooperation and blessing of PBS. NewsHour anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff and correspondent Hari Sreenivasan introduce each segment.

The verisimilitude has led to Goldbloom’s cousin, Jordan Smith, who supplies the voice of Goldbloom’s PBS producer, getting news story pitches posted on his Facebook page.

“I’ve also been getting emails from people asking if we really got cancelled,” Goldbloom reports.

Although it seems from the end of the tenth and final episode of the series that PBS producers may have had enough of working with Goldbloom, in reality the situation is very different. Goldbloom reports that PBS executives are happy with the series and that he and Pink are in discussions with them about an expansion of the “Everything But The News” brand. There are thoughts of producing 22-minute-long episodes with more complex story lines and additional characters.

Goldbloom, who visited Israel as a teenager in 2000 and keeps up with news from the Middle East, loves playing an exaggerated version of himself and poking fun on a meta level at how insecure and vulnerable journalists can actually be.

He’s found the sweet intersection spot that he has been looking for all along.

“I love comedy and I also love public affairs and the news business.”

Being the buttoned-up straight man is not for him.

“I have an affinity for the ridiculous. I’ll leave the serious on-camera stuff to people who are better at it than me,” says Goldbloom.

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