The Plain Dealer: Nader Movie No Laughing Matter
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It began as a joke. A whole bunch of jokes.

Steve Skrovan was a writer on "Everybody Loves Raymond" when Paramount offered him a development deal to come up with a new sitcom. "Being a writer on a hit show is like being an assistant coach on a Super Bowl winning team. People throw money at you because they think you might know something," said Skrovan, who grew up in Chardon.

While fishing for ideas, he ran into a friend from his comedy days at Catch A Rising Star in New York. Henriette Mantel had once worked as an office manager for Ralph Nader. She used to tell Skrovan funny stories about being a consumer advocate. He thought that might be a fertile setting for a comedy: An earnest staff dealing with oddball characters and corporate villains. It had possibilities.

Skrovan immersed himself in the Ralph Nader story, reading biographies, newspaper articles and magazine profiles. Though Skrovan is a registered Democrat who voted for Al Gore, he isn't particularly political. He was looking for funny stories.

While reviewing material and interviewing people, Skrovan was struck by two things: Nader's impressive accomplishments and that so many of his friends were mad at him for playing the spoiler in the 2004 presidential election that went to George W. Bush.

Instead of writing a pilot for a sitcom, Skrovan wrote a three-act treatment for a documentary and submitted it to Nader's people through Mantel. Three months later, they got the go-ahead. Suddenly, Skrovan the comedy writer was making a documentary.


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