saturday night live

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There are plenty of tough tickets in New York City, from late night talk shows to Broadway spectaculars, and while the process of procuring tickets has eased up a bit over the years (hey, thanks, Internet), that doesn’t mean the hottest of hot tickets is still “easy” to come by. If you happen to Google “Saturday Night Live tickets,” you’ll be met with an official NBC website that details exactly how to go about getting tickets – which really means, “how to go about not getting tickets at all.” Saturday Night Live is such a desired entertainment commodity (and no, we can’t keep calling it a “hot ticket”) that people who want to attend the show need to jump through the kind of hoops that no other live show offers. No, really – you name another show where you request tickets but can’t even request a preferred date for those tickets. Not even an exact date, just one that might work for you. Nope. If you’re going for those SNL tickets, you have to email your requests in the month of August only (the SNL season doesn’t start until September) and basically just wait it out. If you get picked for tickets (and only if you get picked), you’ll get a pair of tickets for a show, date and time as picked by SNL. Don’t try to game the system by putting in multiple requests. Don’t expect to hear back if you don’t get picked. Want to try standby? Line up at 30 Rock on the morning of your preferred show – at 7AM. […]

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In a stirring reminder that we are all very, very old, Saturday Night Live will celebrate its fortieth anniversary early next year. To honor that big milestone, the venerable NBC sketch comedy show will launch a star-studded anniversary special, packed with talents and memories and stardust and dreams. And, also, probably a few goofs and bobbles and big surprises. Variety reports that the special will arrive next February, and despite some scant details, we still know a bit about the form and shape of the special. We also don’t know a whole bunch about the special, but we think we might be able to parse some answers to our biggest questions from both past anniversary specials, the Variety report, and a little something called an official press release.

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Twin Peaks

April 8th marked the 24th anniversary of Twin Peaks’ premiere. But as any good fan knows, this means it’s also been 25 years since Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) first visited the Black Lodge on March 26, 1989, when Sheryl Lee’s Laura Palmer whispered in his ear: “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” For fans, it’s been a whirlwind of cherry pies and snapping fingers, but the anniversary is also a reminder of just how far David Lynch and Mark Frost’s influential show stretched. This wasn’t a little cult affair seen and quoted by few. Glimpses of the show can be seen far and wide in homages, parodies, and vague references from stage to screen, from adult comedy to children’s programming. By this point, just about everyone has seen at least a little Twin Peaks through one of media’s many references, and here are some of the best.

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Dyke and Fats

The joke is that it’s hard to say. Well, it’s hard to say (or, hell, even type) if you’re not the sort of person who is prone to spouting off insulting and derogatory terms about people based on their sexual orientation or weight or race or whathaveyou with ease. But the joke is also that it’s about reclaiming words, ideas, prejudices, and the sort of things that liter the kind of commenting sections that no one should ever read. It’s Dyke & Fats! They’re the best cops in Chicago! And they are here to reclaim some loaded words, okay? On this weekend’s Saturday Night Live, repertory players Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant unveiled the sort of project that sure seems like it’s close to their heart – a send up of seventies cop shows that also niftily subverts the genre and combats the kind of hate speech the duo might often be the victim of (the sketch even featured an end credit that proclaimed that it was “Created By Kate McKinnon & Aidy Bryant,” a rarity in the SNL world0. In the skit, McKinnon is fake actress Dutch Plains (who, in turn, is playing the “Dyke” in Dyke & Fats: “Les Dykawitz”), while Bryant is her own fake actress, Velvy O’Malley (the talent behind “Chubbina Fatzarelli”). Tongue in cheek? You bet. And better.

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There’s little debate that Saturday Night Live’s recent addition of Sasheer Zamata to its featured player cast is in direct response to continued outcry over the lack of diversity on the show (or, more realistically, there should be little debate over that particular subject), and while those are perhaps not ideal conditions for a new talent to be added into the venerable show, Zamata has one thing going for her – she’s very funny and she’s in possession of a whole mess of skills the show needs. Sure, it would have been great if she could have been folded into the show in a “normal” way at the beginning of a new season, but that time has passed and now it’s time to look forward to the funny lady’s first show and what she can add to the show on her own merits. (And, as it happens, she’s far from the first addition to the show in the middle of season – recently, Kate McKinnon joined the show in the spring of 2012, and that’s worked out pretty damn well so far.) Of course, when SNL creator and producer Lorne Michaels finally doubled down on the controversy surrounding the show’s lack of an African-American star, he really doubled down on it – telling the press that the show would be adding in at least one new comedienne of color before the it picked up again after the holidays, possibly two. Turns out, Michaels was underselling their additions – because Saturday […]

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Sasheer Zamata

The long-simmering drama around Saturday Night Live and its lack of diversity in its cast (principally pinned on the fact that the cast has not included a black comedienne since Maya Rudolph left the show five years ago) has now finally come to its logical conclusion – as our Dustin Hucks shared yesterday, when the show returns later this month, it will include the talents of Sasheer Zamata as a featured player. The team at SNL (and especially Lorne Michaels) has been under pressure to add an African-American female to their already bloated cast for a few months now, and while the addition of Zamata pushes the cast into straight up crazy numbers (seventeen people, you guys, seventeen), she’s a great pick from a very impressive pool. To recap, the show has been under fire for months now, as its new season saw the addition of six new featured players – all white, five of whom are men – leaving the cast still lacking a black comedienne. Star Kenan Thompson was asked about it later, kicking off still more chatter, which was then actually answered on the show…by finding host Kerry Washington saddled with lots of jokes acknowledging the issue, some of which were funny, all of which sort of missed the mark. With pressure not abating, Michaels and company went hunting for a new comedienne – both in New York City and Los Angeles – with news soon hitting the wire that Michaels had vowed to hire at least […]

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SASHEER ZAMATA

It may appear a capitulation born of growing pressure and bad PR on the part of Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, but the addition of Upright Citizens Brigade alum Sasheer Zamata will likely be seen as a step in the right direction in hiring its first black actress in over five years. SNL has stumbled through an odd patch in the media of late, as well as dealing with the heavy blow of shedding veteran cast members like Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Jason Sudeikis, with head writer and Weekend Update lead Seth Meyers jumping ship later this season to take over Late Night from Jimmy Fallon. Michaels went on a featured player hiring spree, throwing together one of the largest casts in years of new faces, all of which were notably not particularly diverse, and may of whom have been noticeably absent through much of this season’s run, which has relied heavily on its veterans.

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ferrell and mckay 02

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. When people talk of the best modern actor/director duos, they tend to leave out Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Maybe it’s because unlike 12 Years a Slave (the latest Fassbender/McQueen), Inside Llewyn Davis (the latest Goodman/Coens) and The Wolf of Wall Street (the latest DiCaprio/Scorsese) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues won’t be winning any major awards this year. But the latest from Ferrell/McKay is scoring high marks from critics and audiences. And since their first feature collaboration, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, they’ve consistently delivered the comedy goods. Look at the funniest of Ferrell’s movies over the past decade and you’ll see they’re primarily McKay’s. And you won’t even find any movies directed by McKay not starring his old Saturday Night Live buddy. It’s actually at SNL where this perfect duo technically made their first film together. While Ferrell was a cast member and McKay was head writer, McKay began his move to directing by creating the show’s Digital Shorts brand of videos, which were initially just sketches fully produced prior to the live airing of the program. The original Digital Short debuted on February 5, 2000, during an episode hosted by Alan Cumming and featuring J.Lo as musical guest. Titled either The H is O or The Heat is On depending on which part of the credit sequence you accept as being the title, it […]

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Last week brought the not entirely unforeseen (and probably a bit necessary) news that Saturday Night Live was not only looking for a black comedienne to join their lacking cast, but that they were doing it with an aim to find a new player for the sketch comedy show post-haste. The news that the show had held a showcase for black female performers in Los Angeles was the first indication that Lorne Michaels and company were planning on adding to their roster in the new year, and that exciting news was soon joined by Michaels’ official confirmation that they are indeed looking to add one (or even two!) new players in January after the show’s holiday hiatus and word that the show had also held a similar showcase in New York City. It now seems that our new star(s) will likely be coming to the wide world of television out of the New York City showcase, as The New York Daily News (via Gothamist) now shares that at least three of the performers from the NYC group have been offered callbacks. But if we’re going to be getting familiar with at least one of these ladies (and soon!), why not get to know them a bit more, well, now?

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UPDATED: SNL producer Lorne Michaels has now confirmed the news that the show is indeed adding a black comedienne come next month. Check out more over at the New York Times.  And with that, fans of Saturday Night Live can dial down their ire – or at least start to. The long-running NBC sketch comedy show has recently come under fire for its lack of a black female cast member, or rather its continued lack of a black female cast member. The situation steadily spiraled out during the fall, with offhand comments by cast members and other related people eventually culminating in a big nod to the perceived diversity problem on a November episode hosted by Kerry Washington. Even then, SNL’s acknowledgment of the issue grated – as I wrote back then, “Simply acknowledging the issue is, admittedly, a step. But it’s a step that’s already happened off screen, thanks to both Kenan Thompson’s comments on the subject initially stirring up anger and founding producer Lorne Michaels weighing in on the issue just last week. The team at SNL knows what the problem is, they’ve acknowledged it, and using that as fodder for a sketch that’s both kind of funny and vaguely offensive isn’t helping anyone. So what was the next (and best) step? Well, how about actually hiring a female black cast member for the show? As I mused in November, “adding in a new hire to the cast [would] look like an obviously calculated move at this point, [and] it […]

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Kerry-Washington-Cold-Open-2

In its fifth episode of its thirty-ninth season, the venerable Saturday Night Live finally addressed its currently hot button diversity problem. The sketch comedy show’s newest iteration has drawn ire for months now, thanks to the casting of a staggering six new talents – all white, leaving the series still without a black female talent – so some sort of mention of the scrutiny and controversy was long overdue. Of course, having a black female host (Kerry Washington) to help it along was certainly a fortuitous stroke of luck (given, of course, that you believe this was in an way a lucky coincidence), but the show’s single attempt to say something clever, funny, or inspired about the scandal fell jarringly short. The show’s cold open featured cast member Jay Pharoah (who got more screentime during this episode than he has all season, another “coincidence” that’s certainly not one) doing his trademark Barack Obama impersonation, with Washington tasked with playing Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Beyonce. Asked to flit in and out of the Oval Office set, what Washington was doing (playing all the female African American roles!) was obvious enough, but the self-referential tone was heightened by both the over-the-top impatient behavior of both Pharoah and Taran Killam as they waited for Washington to complete multiple wardrobe changes. Oh, and then there was a weak “apology” made via voiceover and on-screen text that issued a mea culpa to Washington for asking her to play all the roles they don’t have […]

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Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders

Let’s be fair. It’s not all that difficult to parody Wes Anderson‘s movies. That’s the price of having a signature style. Still, Saturday Night Live nailed it with this orange-tinted horror film The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders, and they did it so well that I now desperately want to see a horror film from Anderson. The things you never knew you wanted, right? Edward Norton beautifully channels Owen Wilson’s drawl here, and while the thrust of the gag is essentially a litany of Andersonisms lifted straight from his movies and deposited into a home invasion thriller, the jokes work best when they involve objects and set ups that the director hasn’t used but definitely, absolutely could have. The only way it could have been better? Adding SNL and Anderson alum Bill Murray into the mix.

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HBO knows what it’s getting you this Thanksgivukkah season: the premiere of Australian comedian Chris Lilley‘s new series, Ja’mie: Private School Girl. On November 24th, Lilley returns as Ja’mie King, the shallow, spoiled, just-smart-enough-to-know-where-to-cut rich bitch from Down Under, back in front of the (mockumentary) cameras as she’s about to graduate from her fancypants private high school. Ja’mie – pronounced “ja-may” – is a familiar sight to viewers of HBO’s eight-episode sitcom Summer Heights High and Lilley’s earlier We Can Be Heroes, which originally aired on the Sundance Channel. Lilley has delicate-enough features that, for seconds at a time, provided the lighting is right – that is, when you can’t see his five o’clock shadow – he could pass for an attractive 30-year-old woman playing at 16. He’s certainly nailed the prissy-horsey mannerisms of one. In Summer Heights High, Lilley’s absolutely fantastic in the role: Ja’mie is a hair-flipping meanness machine, a queen bee so skillfully manipulative she could teach Regina George a thing or two. Yet there’s something a little off about the premise of Ja’mie: Private School Girl – a niggling sense of unfairness and lost opportunities. And that feeling of not-quite-rightness are bolstered by SNL‘s Kenan Thompson declaring last week that neither he nor castmember Jay Pharoah will appear in drag anymore, as well as the ongoing debate about what male comedians in dresses mean.

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Tina Fey Girls

Saturday Night Live’s “rebuilding” year kicked off on Saturday night (well, of course) with the fall season’s first episode, featuring Tina Fey back to host (and to presumably add some gravitas and reliable talent to a rocky show) and Arcade Fire back to apparently have a Roman Coppola-filmed reason to consume illicit substances and dance on national television as if no one was actually watching. Fey’s entire monologue was amusingly centered on making the show’s six new cast members prance around in gold lame to a song about, well, making new cast members prance around in gold lame. While it could have fallen flat, Fey’s charm (and the inclusion of some very funny examples from her own early SNL days) powered it, and the mild desperation/total gameness of some of the new featured players (Beck Bennett, congrats on just really going for it) made it not entirely embarrassing for everyone involved (fine, we really enjoyed it). While the episode featured yet another self-referential bit that didn’t have nearly the same mileage, with  “New Cast Member or Arcade Fire,” the show was at its best when it allowed the new cast members to actually do something interesting and clever that genuinely capitalized on their talents. Or, as is the case with their “Girls Promo,” when it allowed new cast members (Noël Wells) to gel seamlessly with returning talent (Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Taran Killam) and the episode’s host, giving the show not only its best sketch, but the best […]

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More Cowbell

The morning’s best writing from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Sudeikis

In a move that’s really surprised no one who bothered to pay attention during the previous season of Saturday Night Live, Jason Sudeikis announced last night on the Late Show with David Letterman that after an eight-year tenure, he won’t be returning to the show next season. (You can watch both Sudeikis and his sweet mustache announce the news here.) Sudeikis joins both Fred Armisen and Bill Hader as long-term SNLers who both previously decided that they too would not return to the comedy juggernaut after last season’s wrap. While Hader and Armisen’s exit had been confirmed before the final episode of the season aired, and the pair even got charming little sendoffs during the last show (though, it was nothing compared to the weirdly tear-jerking goodbye Kristen Wiig got the previous year), Sudeikis didn’t get the same kind of toodle-loo (a choice that must have been his own). Instead, he chose to announce his departure in the off-season, ensuring that the show will return in the fall sans three big male stars (and then four, once Seth Meyers leaves to replace Jimmy Fallon in his late night slot). But Sudeikis has plenty of work on the horizon, and if he’s leaving the show to become a bonafide movie star, now probably really is the best time. So what should the funny guy be doing next? Well, pretty much exactly what he already has planned so far. (The one thing Sudeikis should stay away from, at least in his immediate […]

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Jorma Taccone

Whether he’s making web shorts with his fellow Lonely Island members Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg, (formerly) writing for NBC’s long-running sketch show Saturday Night Live, or directing cult favorite films like MacGruber, Jorma Taccone is always finding ways to keep busy. It almost seems like he enjoys getting paid to make funny stuff all the time, or something. While everybody clearly still enjoys his past work on SNL and the web, it seems like the really big bucks must be in the movies, because more and more it appears that the man is turning to feature film directing as a way to fill up his work calendar. Earlier this year we heard that he had been attached to direct an Image Comics property called The Great Unknown, which is a story about a deluded, self-proclaimed genius on a quest to discover how all of his first-rate ideas are being stolen on a worldwide level. And now we have word from THR that he’s been attached to direct yet another film, this one called Spy Guys.

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Culture Warrior

Will Ferrell is a funny man. This seems to be a fact undeniable even to those who don’t otherwise care for his brand of comedy. Even though his schtick has become reliably familiar – he often plays variations of an over-privileged adult child who is hopelessly naïve in certain categories of social life and prone to random bursts of livid anger – its regularity has yet to prevent Ferrell’s comic talents from growing stale. There seems to also be some indescribable aura at the core of Ferrell’s comic talent, something about his appearance and demeanor that can’t be explained through analyses of timing and punchline, as evidenced by his strange appearance on Jimmy Fallon last May. For many, Ferrell’s comic appeal has been this essential, indescribably funny core since his SNL days. Ferrell is funny not exclusively because of his physical comedy or imitable characters; he, as a force of nature, is pure farce (a farce of nature?). But as his film career continues to accumulate titles and as his unique comic sensibilities become better-known with his roles as producer and writer, it’s clear that, beneath his farce, Ferrell has a confrontational political and satirical streak underlying much of his work, which has naturally led to him portraying a politician in Jay Roach’s The Campaign. Ferrell’s roles, however, often exercise a fascinating and occasionally self-defeating tension between satire and farce, with one element substituting, rather than laying the groundwork for, the other. Here’s an overview of the politics of Will […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly link round-up column that has a severe addiction to ice cream. And Ron Burgundy’s mustache. We begin this evening with a bit of silliness in the form of photographer Federic Chiesa’s 80s horror movie icons as creepy senior citizens. He leaves no stone unturned — from a drunk old Freddie to a homeless, still masked Jason — and has created something quite fun. The creepiest of all of these is the one above, featuring the little girls from The Shining, all grown up. Not the actual girls — at least not that we know of — but creepy, all the same.

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Primetime Emmys broadcast. Winners will be highlighted in bold and you can check out the winners that were already announced at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The very first Emmy Award was given to a ventriloquist named Shirley Dinsdale who worked with a puppet called Judy Splinters. Is that significant? Of course it is. That fact coupled with the design of the award itself – a woman holding an atom – represent the true heart of television’s most significant celebration: artistic inspiration, scientific technology, and wooden humanoids that only talk with a hand shoved up their back. Ponder that while you bask in the glory of the victorious. Here are the winners of the 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards.

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