Fenton Bailey And Randy Barbato on capturing craziness in 'Small Town News'

August 16, 2021
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have conquered the world with their cameras.

The directing and producing pair came up through the world of indie queer cinema, directing the cult documentaries 'The Eyes of Tammy Faye,' 'Party Monster,' and 'Inside Deep Throat,' among others. They struck it rich (and we mean RICH) by producing a little reality show called 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' which captured an international audience and helped the pair launch their own streaming service, World of Wonder Presents Plus.

Now the pair go local, capturing the wackiness of a true-indie TV station in 'Small Town News.' The series airs on HBO.

'Small Town News' follows the crew of KVPM, the aforementioned indie station in the town of Pahrump, Nevada. As overseen by the station owner Vern Van Winkle, a hardcore Right-Wing devotee, the anchors and staff at KVPM struggle to cover local news in the greater Las Vegas area, featuring stories on everything from dog adoptions to brothel openings. Then Election Night 2020 arrives, plunging the news media into chaos, and putting Vern at odds with the rest of the station.

We caught up with Barbato and Bailey to discuss their careers, how the new show fits in with their filmography, and how journalism sits at an existential crossroads. The Season Finale of 'Small Town News' lands on HBO August 16.

Video Editor: David Beerman.