As the chicken reporter clucked out her report, subtitles said: "Marking your ballot correctly is very important, humans. When you go to the voting booth, you will find a ballot, a ballot pen and a secrecy cover. I will now show you how to mark the ballot. Prepare to be amazed, humans!!!"
Emma is one of a slew of strong personalities on the popular Lakeville government television show "Lakeville Kids & Government." Now, she, as well as Hank the Hog, RR the Raccoon, Arnold Schwartzenbull and their video producers have been nominated for an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award in the children/youth category.
Jim Schiffman, a Lakeville video production specialist and producer, editor and puppeteer, said being nominated was "very cool."
"We're a government entity, and we're kind of competing in the same room with people from WCCO, KARE, KMSP and KSTP," he said. "It speaks highly for both our abilities and the quality level we want to bring to the city and to programming we put on the air."
It's the show's second Emmy nomination. In 2005, it won, becoming one of the first government access channel programs to be award an Emmy, Schiffman said. The gala to announce this year's winners will be Saturday at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.
The monthly children's program takes an educational and humorous look at government through the sewn-on eyes of the show's puppet cast. The Channel 16 show teaches kids all about what goes on around the city, from introducing them to the new police department to showing them just how the ice is painted at Hasse Arena.
Schiffman, who does all the voices for the core cast of 10 puppets as well as any guests that appear from his personal collection of 150 puppets, said once a puppet is in his hand it's easy for him to fall into character. "There are a lot of voices that go on inside my head," he joked.
RR the Raccoon, the show's main host, has a regular-guy kind of voice. Louie the Dog, who hosts the "Walking the Dog With Louie the Dog," has an obnoxious voice that's a parody of Bugs Bunny. And Hank the Hog is a pig with a goofy voice who's a bit of an "egomaniac."
Schiffman and fellow video production specialist Tim Klausler spend a couple of weeks filming the show. On Monday, they drove to the Lakeville Area Arts Center to do a "Pig Peeks at Paintings" segment with Hank the Hog for next month. Then they drove to a nearby park with Arnold Schwartzenbull for a "Park of the Month" segment to showcase fall foliage colors.
The two did numerous takes to ensure that the segment maintains the show's characteristic tongue-in-cheek humor and that the "guy with the balding head is not coming into the shot," Schiffman said.
Once all the segments are filmed, Schiffman takes about three days to edit each 20- to 25-minute episode. The fun part, he said, is sweetening the show with features that make it appealing to kids, such as catchy music and a laugh track.
But kids aren't the only ones who enjoy the show, Klausler said.
"We try to bring city government down to where kids can understand what's going on, but it also allows adults to get that same understanding of what's going on in a fun, humorous way," he said.
Jeannine Aquino • 952-882-9056