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Samantha Bee’s ‘Full Frontal’ Starts a Race to Snare Attention

Producers and correspondents at Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal” have been running around for two weeks in an effort to get fans interested in tonight’s broadcast – as well as the moments when the weekly show is not on the screen.

“Full Frontal” will this evening in its 10:30 p.m. eastern broadcast on TBS devote two of its three main segments to an “Apology Race.” This “Amazing Race” spoof  has the show’s four correspondents – Allana Harkin, Ashley Nicole Black, Mike Rubens and Amy Hoggart – traveling to places like Haiti, Mexico and Puerto Rico to offer regrets to as many people as possible around the globe for anything and everything President Donald Trump has uttered over the last few weeks.

“Can you possibly go and apologize for everything he does in a two-week period of time? Is it possible? There are so many things in a day,” says Tyler Hall, the segment producer who oversaw the “Apology” effort. “What we found – and what will come out in the segment – is there’s literally too much trash in this trash fire.” He says the staff felt lucky Trump recently tamped down talk about North Korea, because they might have had to go there as part of the conceit.

Staffers at the show say there’s also too much interest in the program to ignore the possibilities inherent in using social media in the days between traditional broadcasts. Like many of TV’s other late-night shows, “Full Frontal” continues to ramp up what it does on venues such as Twitter, Medium and elsewhere to keep communicating with fans when Bee isn’t humorously eviscerating someone on TBS.  “You don’t want people to feel like they are only getting to hear from Sam once a week. We are really looking to the digital space as a way to keep her voice out there, ” explains Carol Hartsell, the show’s managing digital producer. The team also sees social media as an avenue to spark conversation immediately, rather than solely on Wednesdays when the traditional program runs. “We are here all day with Twitter on and CNN and other news shows. When something big happen you hear it reverberate around the office. We are reacting and want our fans to know we are reacting to it,” she adds.

On Friday, “Full Frontal” expects to launch a newsletter, “Little Victories,” that calls attention to interesting or positive news stories “that will likely get wrapped up in the pessimism of the non-stop news cycle,” says Hartsell – another example of the show trying to reach out to viewers when there’s nothing new to “view” on the TBS grid.

There’s already a lot of work to do on a TV program, but all of TV’s late-night teams realize there’s a sizable audience watching their antics in non-traditional fashion. At “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” the show’s signature segment, “A Closer Look,” is routinely posted on Twitter in the early evening, hours before the program airs on NBC at 12:30 in the morning. Robin Thede, the host of BET’s weekly “The Rundown,” each week also hosts a podcast, “The Randown.” Recent guests have included both “Full Frontal’s” Bee and Black. And when TBS’ Conan O’Brien recently decided to go to Haiti, one of the first places the announcement surfaced was on Twitter. A special show depicting his visit won’t air until Saturday, but the host has this week been posting pictures and video from the trip on the social-media outlet.

The demands for more material can add complexity to a late-night show’s routine. During shoots for “Apology Race,” staffers posted video of some of the correspondents’ encounters, and also tried to spark social conversation with a hashtag, #apologyrace, says Hall, the producer. “It’s not more intense than anything else we do, but the challenge is trying to be up in real time,” he says. “Trying to parody reality TV shows you just how hard it is.”





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