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Jimmy Lai: Taiwanese toons skewer Western news

Comedy Impact Report 2010: Online All-Stars

While most news outlets simply report what’s already happened, Taiwan’s Next Media Animation recreates, using quickie CG reenactments of key events — including Lindsay Lohan’s jail stint, the Eva Longoria-Tony Parker split and the Brett Favre scandal — to capture the absurdity of American culture.

The popular toon segments are the brainchild of Jimmy Lai, the billionaire CEO of Hong Kong and Taiwan’s largest news company, known for its popular, graphics-heavy, tabloid-style journals. His innovative plan: Commission rudimentary recaps of breaking stories on unbelievably tight deadlines. “Then a gift from God came in the form of the Tiger Woods scandal. We animated that, and it went viral,” says NMA commercial director Mark Simon.

Every day, a team of 265 produce 19 minutes of animation to be featured on Next Media websites the following morning. “Speed is everything for us,” Simon says. Though most of the news is dry, local coverage, he explains, “the humorous stuff writes itself. A U.S. indictment reads like a movie script — you can just follow the affidavit, and boom, you’re done.”

The phenom has attracted wild assignments, including work-for-hire bits featured recently on “The Good Wife” (the one with Miranda Cosgrove playing an out-of-control teen star) and October’s Jon Stewart rally.

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