This week's Saturday Night Live was hosted by Peeta Mellark, the young son of a baker who is in love with Katniss Everdeen. Even though he won the last Hunger Games (ok, technically tied), he was still forced to host the Thanksgiving episode of SNL, often one of the worst episodes of the season because everyone starts to get tired and a little lazy. That was certainly the case this week, with a lot of bad sketches and a couple of repeats that left Peeta without much to do except pretend to be in love with Katniss so as to avoid the wrath of the evil President Snow, who I assume was watching because he's a big fan of musical guest Haim. Peeta has proven before that he's a pretty good actor, and he was fine on the show. It was the sketches that let him down, just like Katniss sometimes lets him down when she tells him that she's only pretending to like him and that she's really still in love with Gale...(Read the full Josh Hutcherson SNL recap)
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News of the show's demise first broke after Jeselnik announced it on stage during his performance at the New York Comedy Festival At at that point, it was still just a rumor -- albeit from a pretty good source. The network confirmed it days later.
The show, which was part talk show parody, part sketch comedy, part panel discussion (all panel and no panel makes panel a panel panel), was one of the funnier shows on the network, proving to not just be a good showcase for Jeselnik's pitch-black comic sensibilities but also a great opportunity to watch a couple of comics crack each other up during the panel discussions.
The Jeselnik Offensive got just two abbreviated seasons on the air before Comedy Central pulled the plug, though the exact reason why isn't known. The show experienced a gradual ratings drop since its premiere earlier this year, but I don't know if Comedy Central canceled it for that reason or just because they love to cancel shows. Seriously, the fact that Jeselnik managed to get 18 episodes on the air should be a source of pride. Most series don't even make it that long.
At least it gave Anthony Jeselnik some good TV exposure, making it easier for him to sell out tours (though I'm pretty sure he was doing fine already). And we got 18 episodes of a really dark, funny show. I'm guessing Jeselnik won't feel like appearing on any more Comedy Central roasts, though. That's too bad.
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The group's five surviving members -- John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle -- held a press conference to make the announcement, joking that they're only getting back together to prove that they're still funny and because it might be their last chance before another of them passes away, seeing as most of them are around 70 years old now. The sixth member, Graham Chapman, died of cancer in 1989.
The last time the group performed together was 1980; they have reunited on stage since then, but only as part of a panel discussion and not doing any material. They haven't performed in London in 40 years. So this is a pretty big deal.
Python will perform their exclusive one-night-only show, including some "greatest hits" sketches and animation (courtesy of Gilliam), at London's O2 arena, which holds about 15,000 people. The performance will also be filmed, probably for a concert film or cable special. They also haven't closed the door to future performances; while a tour isn't likely at this point in their lives, the U.S. could potentially get a similar reunion show.
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Since she first started appearing on Saturday Night Live as a musical guest, pop star Lady Gaga has appeared in the occasional sketch and acquitted herself well. This week, she got her first chance at carrying a full episode as both first-time host and musical guest and once again acquitted herself well in an episode that was incredibly uneven.
Though she displayed a tendency to turn every character into a broad New York stereotype, Gaga had a lot of energy and a sense of fun in each of her sketches this week. The writing was all over the place, though, with a few bright spots and a number of sketches that were among the worst of the season so far -- even the audience in Studio 8H failed to laugh at a lot (though they cheered for almost everything Gaga did, proof of the Theory of the Dancing Bear). The show is still finding itself this season, reshaping its former incarnation with a huge percentage of new and newer cast and a different energy. If the show goes where I hope it's going to go, I'll put up with "Growing Pains" episodes like this one...(Read the full SNL Lady Gaga recap)
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Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, the breakout stars of the Comedy Central sketch series Key & Peele, are making the jump to the big screen.
The pair will collaborate with mega-producer Judd Apatow for an untitled comedy, which Apatow will produce and all three will write. It's a smart teaming for everyone involved: Apatow has launched the film careers of most of the big names in comedy right now (Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Jason Segel, Danny McBride -- the list goes on), and the fact that Key & Peele are already poised to explode makes his job a lot easier.
Both Peele and Key have had supporting roles in movies before: Key had a role in this year's Hellbaby (written and directed by some alumni of The State), while Peele had a memorable turn in last year's Wanderlust (written and directed by some different alumni of The State).
No other details are known about the project right now, except that it will be distributed by Universal (the studio that has worked with Apatow on most of his projects) and that I'm very excited to see it.
Photo by Ian White/Courtesy Comedy Central
After two seasons on the air, FX is pulling the plug on comedian W. Kamau Bell's talk show Totally Biased.
The weekly series premiered to decent ratings and reviews last season, enough that FX not only renewed it for a second season but also upped the order so that it would air four nights a week. That's a Daily Show schedule. Unfortunately, Totally Biased became one of the test shows for FX's new spinoff network, FXX, which also airs new episodes of The League and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Since the move, Bell's show has taken a massive ratings hit, apparently scoring fewer than 10,000 viewers some nights. It's the lowest-rated show on the new network, compounded by the fact that FXX still isn't available from a number of cable providers.
The politically-themed talk show aired its last episode on Nov. 14.
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Maya Rudolph will be headlining her very own variety show on NBC, set to premiere during the Winter Olympics.
Deadline is reporting that the former Saturday Night Live cast member fielded several offers for her own variety show pilot, which NBC eventually bought. The pilot will reunite her with producer Lorne Michaels, for whom Rudolph worked during her seven years in the cast of SNL.
Nothing else is known about the pilot right now except that NBC intends to air it during prime time following the Winter Olympics, which is a pretty major vote of confidence from the network. Of course, some of us still remember the Rosie O'Donnell variety show debacle from a few years back, so NBC airing one pilot doesn't automatically mean this thing will go to series.
Good for Maya Rudolph, an incredibly talented actress who needs to be on TV more. And good for us, because we get more Maya Rudolph. I can't think of many successful prime time variety shows to air in the last few decades (except maybe America's Got Talent, but that's a game show), so she's facing an uphill battle. She should get Paul Thomas Anderson to direct the pilot. That would be something.
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Well, it's been a big week for comedians getting their own sitcoms.
First up is Kristen Schaal, sometimes correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and voice actor on Bob's Burgers, who sold a starring vehicle to ABC. Schaal will plays the title character in American Monster, about a woman on trial for murder in a small town. Schaal is writing the script with her husband, Rich Blomquist, and will be produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo behind 21 Jump Street and the new Andy Samberg show Brooklyn Nine Nine. No word yet on any kind of start date, but that really depends on whether or not the show gets picked up.
Over at Fox, former Kids in the Hall star Bruce McCulloch and Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon have teamed up and sold a show in which Shannon will play a mom dealing with a pregnant daughter. Shannon will produce the as-yet-untitled sitcom, with McCulloch serving as showrunner. The pair previously teamed on Superstar, the 1999 movie adaptation of Shannon's Mary Katherine Gallagher character from SNL, which McCulloch directed. Perhaps their working relationship should not be judged on the basis of that one movie. If it was, no one would watch the new show.
So this is good news for fans of any of these people. The trick will be actually getting these shows onto the air. Networks have a habit lately of ordering pilots from comedians, but then not putting them on the air.
(Via AV Club)
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Facing criticism that they don't have enough (any) African-American women on the show, Saturday Night Live put America in its place by getting Scandal star Kerry Washington to host this week. Problem solved!
Ok, hopefully it's not that cynical and the producers didn't find a black woman to host just to answer totally justified complaints. The good news is that Kerry Washington was a really great host, showing a flair for sketch comedy that I had no idea she had in her. She had tons of energy and played every character with a lot of confidence, like she's been doing this for a really long time. You know how sometimes a host comes on and you feel like he or she could be a regular cast member? I'm not saying Washington was quite that good based on just one appearance, but she had that kind of vibe. She just fit right in. I was not super excited about her coming on to host (I don't watch Scandal), but now I can't wait for her to come back.
(Read the full SNL Kerry Washington recap)
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British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is partnering with FX to bring Ali G back to TV.
First popularized in the UK before coming to HBO from 2003-06, Da Ali G show is a comedic interview show in which Cohen plays a series of characters: clueless B-boy Ali G, Borat and fashionista Bruno. The latter two characters were both spun off into their own successful films.
Now, lest you think new episodes of Da Ali G Show are being produced, slow it down. Cohen has signed a deal with FXX (the edgier, in-your-face cousin on the FX network) for the rights to air every original episode of the show, including six episodes that never ran in the U.S. when the show aired in the States. Each episode will feature a new intro from Cohen so that everyone feels like they are getting their money's worth.
It's too early to say whether or not this might lead to new episodes, but it's not out of the question. The only hindrance right now (besides Cohen's possible disinterest in returning to these characters, especially after they've been so exposed that it might be difficult to get the reactions out of regular people that drive so much of the humor) is that FXX might have restrictions from Standards and Practices. Da Ali G Show could be really, really blue at times, especially the Bruno segments. A watered down version might not be as funny.
The show will begin airing in the spring under its new title, Ali G: Rezurection.
(via AV Club)
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