Part of the job of being an entertainment journalist is going to junkets, which is when you spend the day in a fancy hotel and talk to famous people and eat food on the network or studio's dime. Journalists resent that they have to do this and usually find it to be a hassle, because it often feels rushed, insincere and draining for everyone involved. It's very weird.
Josh Horowitz and Ben Lyons are highly familiar with the junket experience — they're both long-time entertainment correspondents, Horowitz for MTV News and Lyons for many shows and channels including Extra and ESPN. They've seen firsthand the weirdness of the junket life, and their observations led them to the idea that, hey, this crazy job would make a great comedy series. So together, they created Junketeers, a web series that debuts today on Comedy Central's social platforms (YouTube, Snapchat Discover, Facebook and Twitter) and L/Studio.
"It's an insane construct, the entertainment journalism movie junket," says Horowitz. "We've talked about it with publicists and talent and other journalists for years. Everybody kind of hates it, it's just one of those things that's been around for decades and no one has figured out a better way.
"We would talk about how bizarre and insane the circumstances are around red carpets and junkets," he says. "And we both thought it was a ripe environment for comedy."
"It's a workplace comedy where their office happens to be nice hotels," says Lyons.
Junketeers follows five journalists from very different outlets — everything from Extra-style celebrity fluff shows to hardcore superhero nerd websites — as they sit around hotels and bicker, compete, gossip and occasionally interview celebrities. The cast is anchored by It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's Brian Unger, who plays a drunken, wildly unprofessional celebrity correspondent who's somewhat of a celebrity in his own right, but not on the level he thinks. Unger, like Horowitz and Lyons, draws on his own experience, since he too once worked as a correspondent on Extra.
The cast also includes Barak Hardley, Austin Lyon, Phil Augusta Jackson and Amanda Lund, who co-wrote the series with Horowitz. Jason Berger and Amy Laslett of Kids at Play are executive producers.
The semi-improvised series includes appearances from A-listers you wouldn't necessarily expect to appear in a little web series, including Love's Gillian Jacobs (as seen in the clip above), supermodel Emily Ratajkowski, and stars like Kristen Bell and Matt Bomer. Horowitz and Lyons finessed the connections they've made in their years working as junketeers to get these big names to show up.
It's heightened — most entertainment journalists aren't like the sociopathic narcissists of Junketeers -- but there are elements of truth to it in how it depicts the competing agendas of the journalists and the celebrities and their publicists. And there are things inspired by true events — Horowitz once got stuck in an elevator with Jimmy Fallon, which happens to two of the characters with Harry Potter actor Tom Felton.
It's a fun series that pokes fun at the world of celebrity journalism from a place of love and familiarity, and there are some big laughs scattered throughout.
All eight short episodes of Junketeers are available starting Thursday, Aug. 4 at 2pm Eastern on Youtube.