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Whatever Happened To The Cast Of NewsRadio?

The NBC sitcom "NewsRadio" premiered as a mid-season replacement in 1995. Comedian Dave Foley, best known at the time as a member of the Canadian sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall, starred as Dave Nelson, the wet-behind-the-ears news director of a fictional New York City AM radio station. Created by Paul Simms, the show quickly established a reputation for smart, modern day screwball comedy, equally adept at one-liners, nerdy pop culture references, and pratfalls. Over the course of its five seasons, Dave and the news team at WNYX (which included Maura Tierney, Phil Hartman, and Stephen Root) dealt with everything from rat funerals, to all-male a capella groups, to super karate monkey death cars.

But not everything was so much fun. Despite a cult following, the show was never a ratings hit compared to juggernauts like "Seinfeld," "Friends," and "Frasier." NBC moved the show around its schedule so much that Simms felt that they weren't being given a chance to develop an audience, as he told Rolling Stone magazine in a surprisingly candid 1997 interview. Co-star Khandi Alexander left the show in the middle of the fourth season, then tragedy struck when Phil Hartman was murdered before filming began on the fifth season. Hartman's friend and "SNL" castmate Jon Lovitz joined the cast in the fifth season, which would be the show's last.

Since the end of the show in 1999 the cast of "NewsRadio" has gone on to great success in film, television, Broadway, and, perhaps most notably, podcasting. Let's take a look at where they are today.

Khandi Alexander

Khandi Alexander got her start as a dancer and choreographer, working with Whitney Houston, appearing in the video for Natalie Cole's 1988 cover of "Pink Cadillac," and making small appearances in films like "CB4" and "What's Love Got to Do with It." As on-air reporter Catherine Duke, Alexander delivered style, sophistication, and many well-earned slaps to the madcap newsroom, but after three seasons she feared getting typecast, and made the decision to leave the show during Season 4. "I knew, in order to open up my career, I had to leave or that's all I would ever be given," she told Reuters in 2010.

After "NewsRadio," Alexander focused on more dramatic work, starting with the recurring role of Eriq LaSalle's sister on "ER," and as a drug addict in David Simon's HBO miniseries "The Corner." In 2002, she landed the longest-running role of her career thus far, as medical examiner Alexx Woods on "CSI: Miami." Alexander appeared in over 140 episodes until leaving the show in 2009. A year later, in 2010, she reunited with Simon and HBO for the New Orleans-set drama series "Treme."

Alexander earned an Emmy nomination for her work as Olivia Pope's mother on "Scandal." In 2021, reunited with her old "NewsRadio" boss Paul Simms for an episode of the FX vampire series "What We Do in the Shadows," proving that she still has the chops for comedy and drama.

Andy Dick

Comedian Andy Dick made a name for himself with a gangly physicality and anything-goes shamelessness on shows like "The Ben Stiller Show" and a short-lived "Get Smart" remake. He brought those same qualities to the role of office klutz and well-meaning pest Matthew Brock on "NewsRadio." Whether it was mispronouncing "Buttafuoco" in the worst possible way, captivating (and then throwing up on) James Caan, or turning out to be a pretty good dentist, Matthew had the energy of a breakout character but never overshadowed the ensemble.

After the show ended, Dick had several years of high profile roles in film and on television, including his own MTV sketch show in 2002 and a supporting role on the ABC sitcom "Less Than Perfect" from 2002 to 2006. As the aughts moved into the 2010s, however, Dick's career ran aground thanks to a litany of legal and personal offenses, as well as numerous stints in drug and alcohol rehab facilities.

Beyond his persistent struggles with drugs and alcohol, Dick has been accused of sexual misconduct on multiple occasions and was fired from two different films in 2017 as a result. In November 2021 he was arrested on domestic assault charges after an altercation with his live-in boyfriend. He continues to work in film and television, often in low-budget projects, and heavily promotes his Cameo page on social media.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Dave Foley

The secret to Dave Nelson, Foley's character on "NewsRadio," is that he is not the straight man. A normal comedic structure might have Dave as the rational one contending with all the eccentrics flying around him — but the show only gives the appearance of that, taking advantage of Foley's boyish good looks and all-American (or all-Canadian, rather) wholesomeness. But neither Dave, Foley or Nelson, is rational or wholesome. Dave Nelson is as neurotic as anyone else working at WNYX, often driven to ruin by his obsessions, be they coffee, a 1980s arcade game, or Bill's chewing.

Likewise, Dave Foley has only rarely had a post-"NewsRadio" role that has taken advantage of the comic insanity lurking under his buttoned-up surface. His 1997 film "The Wrong Guy," about a man on the run for a crime he didn't commit (and who no one is looking for) fizzled when it was released direct-to-video in the United States. In 1998, he entered the world of Disney with the lead role of Flik in Pixar's "A Bug's Life," but much of Foley's work has been playing weary, defeated authority figures, either in guest appearances on "How I Met Your Mother" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," or more regular roles on "Hot in Cleveland" and "Dr. Ken."

Off-camera, Foley has become a successful stand-up comic and a candid, hilarious podcast guest. In 2010, he reunited with his "Kids in the Hall" castmates for the miniseries "Death Comes to Town," and in 2022 they will ride again with a brand new season of "KITH" episodes streaming on Amazon.

Phil Hartman

Phil Hartman was arguably the biggest star on "NewsRadio." The veteran comedian was coming off of eight years as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live," where he played current presidents, future presidents, and every type of character in between. Hartman was a master impersonator, but also excelled at playing old-timey Hollywood types and raging egomaniacs, which made him a perfect fit for bombastic on-air reporter Bill McNeal, and more specifically for the show's rat-a-tat dialogue. Bill was the image of unchecked celebrity vanity; any plotline, no matter how ridiculous, could be justified by his boundless ego, whether it was becoming a cane enthusiast or opening a piano lounge in the elevator.

Tragedy struck on May 28, 1998 when Hartman's wife Brynn shot him to death in his sleep, then turned the gun on herself. When the show returned for a fifth season later that year, the premiere was an emotional tribute to both Hartman and Bill McNeal. Because he was such a prolific actor, Hartman kept appearing on screen for months after his death, most notably in the Joe Dante satire "Small Soldiers" and on a Season 10 episode of "The Simpsons" as the voice of Troy McClure.

Hartman was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014; the ceremony was attended by his brother John and "SNL" colleagues Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, and Laraine Newman. In 2019 ABC News aired the two-hour documentary "The Last Days of Phil Hartman," chronicling the sad events that led to his final hours. More than two decades after his death, Hartman's life and death continue to fascinate.

Vicki Lewis

Multi-hyphenate performer Vicki Lewis was in the Broadway revival of "Damn Yankees" before auditioning for the pilot episode of "NewsRadio." Unbeknownst to her, director James Burrows had seen the production and liked her in it. Even if he hadn't, though, it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Dave's secretary Beth. Whether trying to coin a new phrase, explaining the subtleties of "pretty" versus "cute," or mastering the art of negotiation, Beth would do literally anything but her actual job.

After the show ended, Lewis returned to Broadway in the revival of "Chicago" in 2000 and 2001. Like Dave Foley, she also jumped onto the Pixar train, voicing aquarium fish Deb and her "sister" Flo in 2003's "Finding Nemo" and 2016's "Finding Dory." Lewis has become a prolific voice actor, lending her stage-trained pipes to "Rugrats," "Mission Hill," and "Doc McStuffins," among many others. On screen, she has had recurring roles on "How I Met Your Mother" and the "Seinfeld" reunion season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." In 2020, she took a villainous turn in the Disney Channel original movie "Upside-Down Magic."

Lewis continues to split her time between stage and screen; in June 2022 she is expected to appear in the Off-Broadway musical adaptation of the Jodi Picoult novel "Between the Lines."

Jon Lovitz

Jon Lovitz had guest-starred on "NewsRadio" twice in separate roles before joining the cast full-time for its fifth and final season in 1998. As eccentric broadcaster Max Lewis, Lovitz was a both literal and symbolic replacement for his friend and "Saturday Night Live" scene partner Phil Hartman. Like Hartman, Lovitz was a comedy veteran, having already spent six years on "SNL," headlined his own animated series "The Critic" on ABC and Fox, and appeared in "My Stepmother is an Alien," "City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly's Gold," and "High School High," in a rare lead role.

After his one-season stint, Lovitz returned to the role he is arguably best suited for: A beloved comedy elder statesman, delighting talk show audiences (and hosts) and popping up in guest roles and cameos for his famous friends. From 2009 to 2014, he owned a comedy club at Universal Studios Hollywood CityWalk, and in 2007 he made headlines for a physical altercation with Andy Dick at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. The bad blood between the former co-stars stems from the death of Phil Hartman and comments Lovitz had made in the past about Dick's drug use. Though he believed the two had made amends, an offensive remark from Dick brought things to a head, and the two came to blows.

Over the years Lovitz has remained an active "SNL" alumnus. In 2020 he appeared on an episode as lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and in 2021 defended current cast member Chloe Fineman on Twitter, after Fineman was attacked for her impersonation of Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert.

Joe Rogan

Joe Rogan was actually the third choice to play WNYX's resident handyman. Ray Romano was originally cast in the role, but was let go during rehearsals for the first episode. Actor Greg Lee was brought in and filmed the pilot episode; his version of the character was named Rick. After the pilot, Rogan was cast; at the time he was mostly known as a Boston-based stand-up comic. The "NewsRadio" writers renamed the character Joe Garelli and built his personality around the real-life Rogan. Joe is a self-styled tough guy, boorish on the outside but surprisingly sweet, loves outlandish conspiracy theories, and disdains the intellectual elite.

After the show, Rogan returned to his stand-up and martial arts roots, becoming a long-time commentator and host for UFC, as well as host of the NBC gross-out reality show "Fear Factor." He has strong opinions on the art of stand-up comedy in general and plagiarism in particular, which led to an infamous incident in 2007 where Rogan confronted fellow comedian and alleged joke-stealer Carlos Mencia on stage during a gig.

In 2009 Rogan found his calling as a podcast host. "The Joe Rogan Experience," in which Rogan hosts long, discursive interviews with celebrities, politicians, and other luminaries, is one of the most popular and controversial podcasts in history. Rogan has come under fire for his skeptical, anti-science views on the COVID-19 vaccine; in January 2022 legendary rocker Neil Young issued an ultimatum to Spotify: Either Rogan goes, or he does. Spotify sided with Rogan, and Young's music catalog was removed from the streaming service.

Stephen Root

Stage actor Stephen Root made an inauspicious film debut in 1988, as a DEA agent who is threatened while urinating by Paul Hogan in the sequel "Crocodile Dundee II." Root's career for the next several years followed suit, with small but memorable roles in film and television shows such as "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (as a Klingon) and "L.A. Law" (not as a Klingon). He made his biggest splash with "NewsRadio," playing Jimmy James, the Ted Turner-esque eccentric billionaire owner of WNYX, who despite having an entire corporate empire, spends most of his days hanging around the radio station. Through Jimmy, the show was able to parody the wild hubris of '90s billionaires like Turner, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet: Jimmy once launched a presidential campaign solely to meet women, bet Bill McNeal in a poker game, and was arrested on suspicion of being hijacker D.B. Cooper.

After "NewsRadio," Root made the move from working character actor to extremely working character actor, becoming a favorite collaborator of directors like Kevin Smith, Mike Judge, and the Coen brothers. He lent his voice to Judge's long-running Fox primetime cartoon "King of the Hill," and joined former castmate Vicki Lewis as a fish in "Finding Nemo" and "Finding Dory." A consummate chameleon, Root is able to shift seamlessly between comedy and drama and is effortlessly believable in everything from "Office Space" to "Get Out." In 2019, he was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the HBO hitman dark comedy "Barry."

Maura Tierney

One of the things that made "NewsRadio" so special was the way that the show thumbed its nose at sitcom conventions and network dictates. Lisa Miller, the driven WNYX producer played by Maura Tierney, was intended as a love interest for Dave Foley's Dave Nelson. The cast recalled during an UPROXX oral history that NBC wanted a "will they or won't they?" type of relationship for the two, a la Ross and Rachel on "Friends." Instead, creator Paul Simms had the two sleep together in the second episode. The decision transformed the show; Lisa and Dave's relationship was no longer just about the flush of forbidden love, but about the difficulty of co-workers to successfully date, especially when one of them thinks she should have had the other's job.

Like Khandi Alexander, Tierney moved into more dramatic territory after the end of "NewsRadio," playing nurse Abby Lockhart for ten seasons on the NBC medical drama "ER." The role won her an Emmy in 2001. In 2009 she was cast opposite Peter Krause in NBC's remake of the Ron Howard film "Parenthood," but a breast cancer diagnosis caused Tierney to withdraw from the show; the role would be recast with former "NewsRadio" guest star Lauren Graham.

Tierney's cancer went into remission, and in 2010 she returned to acting with the play "North Atlantic." In 2014, she took a lead role on the Showtime drama "The Affair," for which she won her second Emmy. Since the end of "The Affair" in 2019, Tierney has stayed under the Showtime umbrella, starring in "Your Honor" with Bryan Cranston and "American Rust" with Jeff Daniels, both in 2021.