In April 2000, Dream Works Studios optioned two stories from the satirical newspaper, "Canadian Girlfriend Unsubstantiated"—which was to be written by former Onion editor and writer Rich Dahm—and "Tenth Circle Added to Rapidly Growing Hell" with an eye towards producing the later as a family comedy. In February 2001, Miramax Films head Harvey Weinstein announced they had reached a first look agreement to develop scripts and features with The Onion."The story is so dark and hate filled—I was shocked", said head writer Todd Hanson. "As lifelong New Yorkers, we're proud to welcome The Onion to our city with this first-look deal", said Harvey Weinstein.In 1999, comedian Bob Odenkirk praised the publication stating, "It's the best comedy writing in the country, and it has been since it started." The Onion also runs The A. Click Hole is a satirical website from The Onion founded in 2014 that parodies clickbait websites such as Buzz Feed and Upworthy.
While the 15-minute pilot—which was completed in 1997—was never picked up as a series for production, its creation lead to steady writing work for Karlin and other former Onion staffers, such as writing some episodes of Space Ghost Coast to Coast on the Cartoon Network.
This account was recently disputed by an editor of The Onion, Cole Bolton, during an event at the University of Chicago.
Bolton called Mills's account "the dumbest explanation" and asserted that it is likely wrong.
According to Bolton, the most plausible explanation is that The Onion was mocking a campus newsletter called The Union.
Conceived by University of Wisconsin students Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson, The Onion was founded as a print magazine for satirical news in 1988 in Madison, Wisconsin by Keck and Johnson with their friends Scott Dikkers as cartoonist and Peter Haise as publisher.