Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Channel 19 Dimora Trial Puppets Get Nod from Wall Street Journal

Posted By on Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 4:07 PM

The Real Jimmy Dimora: Not a Simulation!
  • The Real Jimmy Dimora: Not a Simulation!

With cameras banned from the corruption trial of former commissioner Jimmy Dimora in Akron, channel 19 WOIO came up with an offbeat work-around: it commissioned a troupe of 25 puppets, designed by local puppeteer Kirk Maynard, to re-enact scenes from the trial. It features a Dimora puppet with a detachable beard in order to move between scenes from the politician’s hirsute, hooker-scoring past and his clean-shaven present as a defendant.

It’s proven a ratings boon for the station. It’s also garnered them some national press, including a long article this week in the august Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ describes the theatrical news presentation as “a cross between The Sopranos and The Muppet Show that has elicited some complaints from viewers and hand-wringing from journalism professors.”

At the center of his cast is Nutty the Squirrel, a fast-talking puppet that sounds like Mr. Maynard on caffeine and helium. The Nutty character anchors a one-minute review of the day’s testimony after the human reporters have had their say. The segment is introduced with its own “Puppet’s Court” graphic and theme music along with the tag: “The testimony is real, the puppets are not.” …

Conversations pulled from wiretaps and acted out by puppets are punctuated with bleeps to cover profanity. When the camera cuts back to the real anchors after each sketch, they often are laughing or shaking their heads.

According to the article, WOIO news director Dan Salamone says the puppet show has created a 55% increase in viewers ages 25 to 54 and “he sales guys are doing cartwheels.”

This quote from county executive Ed FitzGerald sums it up pretty well:

It’s really theater of the absurd. I don’t know what’s more ridiculous, the puppets or the people they are supposed to be.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation