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'Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld' hits 1,000 episodes (and way more Twitter fans)

June 14, 2011 | 10:54 am

"Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld" episode 1000

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

"Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld" is about to clock 1,000 episodes -- and if you know what we're referring to, you're probably a Twitter user with a late bedtime and a slightly twisted sense of humor.

"The audience is always part of the show," said Gutfeld, speaking with Show Tracker on Tuesday ahead of the milestone show. "We let them in."

The welcome mat set out before nearly a thousand shows has been social media, particularly Twitter. The accounts of Gutfeld, "repulsive sidekick" Bill Schulz and ombudsman Andy Levy are promoted heavily onscreen each night.

"It creates this bizarre experience based on people watching the show," which airs at midnight on the West Coast and 3 a.m. on the East Coast, "and tweeting about it at the same time" under the #RedEye hash tag, Gutfeld said.

Fan ideas from Twitter, Facebook and the show's blog find their way into the sometimes-silly, sometimes-raunchy double-entendre guest introductions that are a hallmark of the Fox News Channel late-night offering, with the host saying, "A lot of it is funnier than I would ever write."

"It's like how people tweet during the Oscars or the Tonys," he said, except five nights a week, creating a buzz before, during and after each hourlong show. New fans find the show organically through others' Twitter feeds, which also can lead them to the Activity Pit fan site, the Daily Gut and official "Red Eye" pages.

Gutfeld likened the engagement to what happens when a band goes on tour, rather than simply making records. "Normally you wouldn't get to interact like this," he said.

A daily podcast featuring the show's three mainstays was added to the mix about two months ago. " 'Red Eye' is like a sandwich you make at 3 in the morning," Gutfeld explained, "and the podcast is telling you how we made that sandwich."

An analysis by the influence-measuring website Klout ranked "Red Eye" as 2010's third-most influential TV show on Twitter -- behind "Lost" and "American Idol," but ahead of "Glee," "True Blood" and "Jersey Shore."

"The fact that 'Lost' and 'American Idol' top this list is no surprise, as they have a fervent following," the website said. "Red Eye, a show on Fox News, was the dark horse of this list."

The show now averages 365,000 viewers, with 185,000 in the 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research, up 17% over a year ago in total viewers and 13% in the demo. Though the "dark horse" airs in the middle of the night, it outperforms "Morning Joe" on MSNBC and Piers Morgan's prime-time CNN show in the 25-54 demo, Nielsen said.

Panelists on the 1,000th episode (which technically airs Wednesday morning, if by Wednesday morning you mean "tonight") include conservative writer and talker Ann Coulter, writer-producer and Ricochet.com founder Rob Long, and former overnight Fox anchor Lauren Sivan, plus shout-outs from previous guests and Schulz doing man-on-the-street interviews probing New Yorkers about what effect "Red Eye" No. 1,000 will have on their lives.

Yes, the show is tongue in cheek.

And for anyone who just winced, Gutfeld weighed in: "If you're on 'Red Eye,' you're a guest at a cocktail party," Gutfeld said, no matter your political ideology.

Along with various stand-up comics, politicians and Fox News personalities -- among them a Catholic priest -- panelists have included Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa, rocker Ted Nugent and, recently, Anthony Cumia of the "Opie and Anthony" radio program.

Cumia appeared last week after sharing "Red Eye" regular Andrew Breitbart's X-rated photo of Rep. Anthony Weiner's man-parts with, oh, the whole Internet. That'd be the photo Breitbart said he wouldn't put on the Internet after Weiner admitted to being the guy in all the other Weinergate photos. Awkward.

"I was kind of like a kid with parents who were fighting," the host said of bantering with Cumia about what he'd done to Breitbart, who Gutfeld said has a great sense of humor. "You don't want to take sides." (Even if you expected the photo to leak sooner rather than later and had been tracking progress in that department.)

Given its irreverent, conservative-leaning tone and late-night liberties, "Red Eye" has had more fun than many shows with the Weinergate saga. But how long can it last?

"I sense that the audience is getting tired of it," he said. "I give it three days. He's got to resign, right?" 

Perhaps in time for show No. 1,002.

[For the record, 12:28 p.m. June 14: This post originally referred to Lauren Sivan as a current Fox News personality. Her overnight anchor job at Fox News ended in December 2009, though she is a regular panelist on "Red Eye."]

-- Christie D'Zurilla

 Photo: Greg Gutfeld, host of "Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld." Credit: Fox News Channel

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