A few weeks back I noted that the cover of Entertainment Weekly‘s annual tribute issue, a look back on all those we “loved” and lost this year, made me feel incredibly mortal and guilty for somehow evading Death’s clutches in 2009. I did, however, look on the bright side and commend EW for at least not going with yet another Twilight cover. It still stings to see Bea Arthur’s face, but it was preferable to Robert Pattinson’s bird nest for a week.
BUT!!! As it turns out the issue I received was the subscriber edition and, unbeknownst to me, there were special collector’s editions on newsstands that featured, you guessed it, the cast of Twilight. And not one special cover, but three. Because apparently if you don’t get Entertainment Weekly delivered to your house you don’t care that Patrick Swayze died this year.
A word of warning to Taylor Lautner: don’t you dare try to out-hair touch Kristen Stewart. She will destroy you in that game.
EW did get one thing right in this issue, however: #9 on their “Must List,” My Parents Were Awesome. This site was created by our good friend Eliot Glazer, and is a wonderful window into the past lives of our parents and grandparents. Did you know they were cool once? Yeah, I know, hard to believe, but apparently true. At the very least they definitely had mustaches (well, just the dudes. Mostly).
We’ve talked about the groundswell of support that has erupted around Kenan Thompson for his work on SNL this season, and that “What Up With That?” has perhaps become the premier recurring sketch of the season so far, and while we don’t quite buy into all the buzz, there’s no denying he’s having his best season yet. With his stock at record levels, he was the subject of a profile over at NY Mag, ostensibly cementing this as his breakout season. Apparently even Lorne Michaels agrees, remarking that “Kenan’s on fire this season.” Makes sense that Lorne would have a spot for Thompson, because while Thompson has found his groove, there were many sketches in previous years in which Kenan seemed out-of-place, like the SNL intern, incongruous to the rest of the sketch. Those moments usually resulted some in some of laughter too, but more because they were stilted Kenan Thompson cameos, and not organic comedy. Now he’s truly enmeshed in the sketches and earning the laughs. Now while we don’t necessarily agree with any Kenan Thompson “MVP” chants (our allegiance, obviously, belongs to Jason Sudeikis), we’re starting to forgive him for “Deep House Dish” (but there’s still a long way to go).
But let’s not focus on the present, or even the future. Let’s look back at the past.
And while we’re in the wayback machine, here’s an interview with Thompson I conducted five years ago this month just prior to the release of Fat Albert, and when Thompson was just midway through his 2nd season on SNL. Interestingly, when asked about SNL he says “Probably one of the most stressful situations I’ve ever seen in life. But it’s only going to last a couple more years and then after that you can do whatever.” Well, he’s been on the show for six years now and as he’s just hitting his stride it’s probably going to be a few more before he can do “whatever.” But after paying his dues all this time and likely growing a little wiser, one must wonder if he feels the same way now. At the moment, something tells me he’s just enjoying it. But, you know what, I’ll see if I can’t get a follow-up interview.
The boys of the Beelzebubs aren’t the only ones who are able to make “beautiful” music with just their voices. Nope. Beaker, Animal and Swedish Chef can hold their own, as shown in the new holiday video from Muppets Studios, the “Ringing of the Bells:”
Doesn’t that just put you in the holiday spirit?
I had intended to post the Kermit/Robert De Niro duet of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from Saturday Night Live, but even though it was included in “A Very Gilly Christmas,” it’s nowhere to be found on the interwebs. Tragic. But, it’s true, it is better to give than to receive.
It’s getting harder and harder to write these SNL commentaries; not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I’m afraid that I’m going to sound redundant, as it seems that I have the same reaction almost every week. Occasionally there’s a funny, or at least a buzzworthy, sketch, or a Digital Short that goes viral, or a host that either succeeds beyond expectations or crashes spectacularly, but for the most part, week in and week out it’s becoming the same show. Starting to feel like a broken record.
James Franco had a fairly successful debut as host last season (although I can only seem to remember the glossy Gossip Girl send-up “Murray Hill“), but in the period leading up to this weekend’s show (indeed since Franco was announced as the anchor in the Blake Lively-Taylor Lautner-James Franco hosting triumvirate) it seemed there was a feeling that Franco was going to be some sort of SNL savior, that he’s developed into a comedy wunderkind. Now, his turn on General Hospital may be generating laughs, but it’s not necessarily comedy (in fact, if you listen to Franco, it’s “performance art“). And the very reason he was hailed for his comedic performance in last year’s Pineapple Express and his subsequent SNL hosting gig was precisely because he was playing against type. Before that time he was identified more with his previous characters: the quiet cool of James Dean, Freaks & Geeks sensitive bad boy Daniel Desario, and petulant, moody Spider-man friend turned enemy turn friend Harry Osborne. Franco was so successful in Pineapple Express because it was somewhat unexpected. However, now it seems that he’s planted himself in the comedy camp, or at least as some sort of genre chameleon or Renaissance Man, moving between comedy, serious drama (Milk), daytime soap operas and Columbia University. And with this shift, we’re now less surprised with Franco’s comedy aptitude, and then perhaps set the bar a little too high for his second SNL go-around.
Which is not to say he was anywhere near January Jones territory, not even in the same stratosphere. He was enthusiastic, confident and capable. But he also spent the majority of the broadcast squinting severely which gave off the impression that either a) he was struggling to see the cue cards without the use of prescription lenses, b) his eyes are particularly sensitive to the bright studio lights, or c) he was really, really high. His giggly demeanor and off-beat rhythms didn’t help dissuade the viability of option C. During the monologue if felt like I was looking at French Stewart, not James Franco. But he clearly felt very at home, and up for anything (including making out with Will Forte).