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In the spring of 1996, Ben Karlin and Dikkers collaborated with Robert Smigel and Dana Carvey to create four short Onion news segments for The Dana Carvey Show.Smigel said that after being introduced to The Onion by Bob Odenkirk a year earlier, "it jumped out at me as something completely original and great, and I really wanted to use it on the show".So it's a combination of students and pretty impressive people.I get the feeling that the print version is read by people hanging out in bars".In April 2000, Dream Works Studios optioned two stories from the satirical newspaper, "Canadian Girlfriend Unsubstantiated"—which was to be written by former Onion editor and writer Rich Dahm—and "Tenth Circle Added to Rapidly Growing Hell" with an eye towards producing the later as a family comedy. In February 2001, Miramax Films head Harvey Weinstein announced they had reached a first look agreement to develop scripts and features with The Onion."The story is so dark and hate filled—I was shocked", said head writer Todd Hanson. "As lifelong New Yorkers, we're proud to welcome The Onion to our city with this first-look deal", said Harvey Weinstein.
Based in Chicago, the company originated as a weekly print publication on August 29, 1988 in Madison, Wisconsin.In its earlier years, The Onion was successful in a number of university locations (e.g., University of Wisconsin–Madison and University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign).The publication primarily consisted of a mix of Dikkers's cartoons, Spy magazine-like satire, and short fiction.This account was recently disputed by an editor of The Onion, Cole Bolton, during an event at the University of Chicago.Bolton called Mills's account "the dumbest explanation" and asserted that it is likely wrong.
With a pilot and the first two episodes in post-production, Dikkers said, "I think what sets us apart is we've intentionally formed a tightly knit group of funny performers.