Story last updated at 9:26 PM on Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Daily Show sinks talons into eagle feeding

By Ben Stuart
Staff Writer

More than a million television viewers nation-wide will see Homer’s eagle-feeding controversy in a new light come April, thanks to producers of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart who wrapped up shooting in town on Saturday.

  Photo by Michael Armstrong, Homer News
Two bald eagles perch on the mast of a drydocked boat on tthe Homer Spit last week  
The Daily Show — an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning television show on the Comedy Central cable network and based in New York City — often pokes fun at elected officials and activists throughout the country in its reality-based fake newscasts.

Homer’s eagle-feeding controversy will be featured on the April 17 show and will likely include interviews of Homer City Council member Val McLay, Jean “The Eagle Lady” Keene and eagle-feeding ban proponent Ed Bailey.

Jon Stewart, the anchorman of the program, has interviewed politicians from John McCain to Hillary Clinton and was the host for this year’s Academy Awards.

During the presidential debates in 2004, 2.4 million people tuned into the Daily Show to catch its offbeat and often witty take on current affairs.

One of the show’s field producers Stuart Miller, along with correspondent Ed Helms and a camera crew from Anchorage, spent Friday and Saturday in Homer conducting interviews and shooting Homer’s scenery.

“I was blown away, coming from New York,” Miller said. “I couldn’t have come away with a more positive impression, and Ed (Helms) feels the same way.”

Colorful interview subjects can make or break a spot, Miller said, and the folks in Homer didn’t disappoint.

“It’s an interesting controversy and we just let everyone speak,” Miller said. “Everyone is very passionate on every side of the issue. It should be a good story.”

Part of the Daily Show’s success comes from their correspondents, like Helms, who ask funny or outrageous questions in a dry manner, often surprising interviewees into funny responses.

McLay said he watched a couple shows to see what it was all about, but several of the questions he received still seemed to come from left field.

“He kept going around to eagles being the symbol of our nation, a symbol of freedom,” McLay said. “He said Jean Keene was patriotic for feeding eagles, more patriotic than me,” for writing the eagle-feeding ban ordinance.

“I said ‘I take an exception to that’ and I asked him ‘how many flags do you have at home?’” McLay said.

Helms answered 797, all on sticky notes, McLay said.

“I’m anxious to see what comes out,” McLay said. “I don’t care if they make a spoof of it. It’s good for Homer.”

Ed Bailey said the show spent five hours at his house, with most of that working on lighting and technical aspects of shooting. He has never seen the show, and when they did settle down for the interview, Helms asked some silly questions, Bailey said.

“It was a strange experience, but I was willing to do it to get the message out.” Bailey said. “We’re degrading our national bird into a garbage bird, a dumpster diver.”

For McLay, this show will be the first time he’s been on TV, he said.

But Bailey and Jean Keene have been featured recently in a news spot for ABC and the Australian broadcasting network.

Between those shows and a bit on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show last month, Keene said she’s been busy dealing with media.

“It’s been a zoo out here all winter,” Keene said. “I told my friend that I really made the big time now.”

The crew spent four hours with Keene, once during a feeding session in the morning and another for an interview at Land’s End Resort.

“It went well, just the usual things about eagles,” Keene said. “I told them they couldn’t make a comedy about it, it’s not a comedy thing.”

Homer residents and another million or so viewers nation-wide will find out if they heed Keene’s request on April 17.

The Daily Show airs on GCI cable on weeknights at 10 p.m. on channel 43. Dish Network offers the show on satellite channel 107 at 7 p.m.

Ben Stuart can be reached at ben.stuart@homer