Category Archives: Flashback!

Jumped the Snark Shorty – Chris Hardwick Singled Out For Late Night

Chris HardwickBriefly, we want to remind you of a few weeks back when we discussed the possible successor to Jimmy Fallon as host of Late Night. The rumor at the time – and still presumed favorite – is that Seth Meyers will take over in Studio 6B. However, we voiced our opposition to that plan, with no disrespect to the vastly talented and incredibly charming Meyers. Instead, we felt it best if the show went a different direction. Specifically, West, to Los Angeles, where it could mine some of that coast’s best and underutilized talent. Well, yesterday Comedy Central basically announced plans to do just that, with the news surfacing that they’ve tapped Chris Hardwick to host a late night talk show following The Colbert Report, the net’s first real foray into traditional late night programming. With Hardwick, the Nerdist impresario, you have that young, cutting edge, hip LA talent that we talked about, the Nerdist podcast network including comedians like Kurt Braunholer, Pete Holmes and TJ Miller. Possibly even more important than gaining access to the Nerdist family, the show will be executive produced by Reno 911 creators and The State alums Tom Lennon and Ben Garant, with additional involvement from the folks at Funny or Die. So, essentially, this show links up most of Los Angeles’ best, funniest, talent all in one place. What a deep pool of talent to pool from. Too bad NBC couldn’t think of this first.

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Filed under Flashback!, Good Humor, Shorties, Talkies

Watch the Throne: NBC & the Future of ‘The Tonight Show’

Jimmy Fallon Thank You NotesHere we are again, NBC looking ahead to replace Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show with a hipper, younger host, and a hipper, younger brand. This time, in place of the loose-limbed bean pole with the shock of untamable red locks as successor, we have the shaggy-haired giggle monster and impression impresario as Tonight Show usurper. So what makes NBC think that Jimmy Fallon is the right man for the job – only three years after Conan abdicated – and, perhaps more importantly, why now?

We actually take a somewhat different view from many television critics and media pundits, who believe this is history repeating itself, with the buffoons at NBC either incapable or unwilling to learn from their mistakes. Yes, if you look at the raw data, this move perhaps makes even less sense than the promotion of Conan to the Tonight Show desk in the summer of 2009. Leno, after returning to the late night centerpiece in February 2010, has held his own, even gaining viewers while NBC’s ratings have plummeted. Fallon, only four years and nineteen days removed from his maiden voyage on Late Night, is perhaps not quite ready yet to ascend, whether that be because he needs to further polish and refine his skills, or because he has not yet established enough of a viewership to command a promotion to Johnny Carson’s old spot. Is Jimmy Fallon, who just a decade ago was the  goofball on SNL who couldn’t keep a straight face, ready to tuck in the nation’s older viewers and Slow Jam the News them to bed? And what’s to stop Jay Leno from jumping ship to another network and sticking it to NBC, a possibility  was such a concern four years ago that the Peacock gave Jay a 10pm show, an unequivocal unmitigated disaster.

As Bill Carter reports,* this seems to be all but a done deal, with relations between Jay and the network sinking to an all-time low, bitter invective being spewed on each side. Leno, we can assume, is offended by the lack of respect and credit; after all, he’s still winning his slot while the network crumbles, he’s been a good soldier and has gotten nothing but grief for it. But here’s what’s important, and what makes this different from the Conan situation: as Wired argues in their latest issue, the Nielsen Family is dead and the traditional television model is obsolete. Installing Fallon as Tonight Show host – as reports say will happen by the end of 2014 – is not as much about challenging the upstart and Fallon contemporary Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, as it is about trying a new model, attempting to break out of the box. Fallon has built up a rabid fan base with silly sketches and fun games and brilliant taped pieces, all of which have appealed to the web’s viral culture. Certainly, a popular YouTube video – even one as popular as Justin Timberlake delivering an cappella version of “SexyBack” – doesn’t goose ratings, and it doesn’t do much to affect the bottom line. However, it is indicative of Fallon’s place at the vanguard of new media, of new viewing habits, and at the changing of the guard. Will Fallon alienate some of Leno’s longtime loyal viewers, sending them to Letterman or Kimmel or maybe just to bed early? Sure. But does it really matter, in this current television climate? We’re not so sure.

Also, it’s important to remember that NBC is a moribund enterprise right now. And while that may initially lead one to think that they should keep the one thing that seems to be working, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, we think the opposite is true. So much is dysfunctional at NBC right now that it might be worth it to blow the whole thing up. When you’re routinely getting smacked around by the likes of Univision and AMC and USA (NBC’s own less glamorous, but often more successful cable cousin), why not cut off your perfectly fine nose to spite your brutally beaten face? In a television landscape where numbers mean less and less, NBC, more than any other of the big four networks needs to get creative and change the paradigm. Putting Jay on at 10pm four years ago was changing the game the other way, backward thinking in trying to keep old viewers while embracing new, trying to maximize value under the old model. Moving Fallon to the big chair is looking the other way, trying to stay head of the curve. Why be a slave to the old design, why cling to some antiquated rule that The Tonight Show needs to be in Los Angeles and why keep struggling against the Leno albatross? In a television world where late night talk shows are increasingly irrelevant, why not take a shot a true irreverence? Really, what does NBC have to lose?

Some light background reading:

Conan: Barbarian or Adventurer?

In Defense of Jay Leno/How He Might Screw This All Up AKA More Thoughts on Late Shift 2: Dave’s Revenge

The One in Which We Compare Conan O’Brien to Barack Obama

*Really, what does Bill Carter report on other than late night talk show behind-the-scenes machinations? Can we get his job if and when he retires? We don’t even mind signing a contract stipulating that we will inherit his position in five years or else be paid a steep pay or play penalty).

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Filed under Analysis, Be careful what you wish for, Count Bleh, Flashback!, Must Flee TV, Other people's stuff, Talkies

Girls, Girls, Girls*

Well, if you still needed something to wash out the taste of misogyny and disrespect towards women after the Oscars, then a trio of announcements concerning female-centric projects might just finally cleanse your palate.  Basically, it’s Ladies Night and all the girls drink for free. To wit:

1. Comedy Central has, very wisely, picked up a ten-episode order of Broad Citya comedy based on the web series of the same name created by and starring the brilliant Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson (full disclosure: they are close personal friends and two beautiful, strong, hilarious, independent women). Loosely based on their own lives, it’s the anti-Sex and the City that Girls** isn’t. Here is the Season 2 finale, a love letter to NYC that features Amy Poehler, who is executive producing the series (and is another beautiful, strong, hilarious, independent woman):

More: K. Bell and the future Belle of the Ball…

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Filed under Brilliance, Flashback!, Freak Out Control, Good News!, Mars Investigations, The Big Screen, Virulent, Yasmine Bleeth

Elliott Ghoul’d: JT Joins the ‘SNL’ Five Timers Club But One Member is Conspicuously Absent

Justin Timberlake made his triumphant return to Studio 8H this past weekend, delivering the episode that it felt like SNL and its fans had been waiting for all season long. The affair marked Timberlake’s fifth turn as host, inducting him into the esteemed “Five Timers Club” that includes such SNL luminaries such as Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks. In fact, it was during Hanks fifth hosting appearance in December of 1990  (and before fifteen of Baldwin’s sixteen hosting turns) when we first learned about the existence of the exclusive club, with a young Conan O’Brien (going by the alias “Sean”) presenting Hanks with his club robe. For the first time in just over twenty-two years we revisited this VIP lounge this past Saturday night, with Timberlake receiving his robe from another O’Brien, SNL writer and 7 Minutes in Heaven star Mike O’Brien. Martin, Simon and Hanks were once again present, as well as fellow club members Chevy Chase and Candice Bergen (and non-club but former cast members Dan Ackroyd and Martin Short). But shockingly absent from the distinguished proceedings was Five Timer Elliott Gould, who helped initiate Hanks back in ’90. Sure, by that time Gould hadn’t hosted for ten years, and hasn’t in the twenty-two since, but once a Five Timer always a Five Timer, right? In fact, Gould was the third host to join the club (behind Buck Henry and Martin), which essentially makes him a charter member. So why then has Gould essentially been excommunicated from Saturday Night Live? Why has someone who was so instrumental and loyal in those early SNL years become a persona non-grata at the Five Timers Club? Was it his role on FriendsA falling out with Don Pardo? Or, perhaps he and his friends stole from Lorne? Most likely, while fellow club members Martin and Baldwin climb higher and higher into the double digits, we’ll never know why Gould has been away for over two decades, whether by banishment or by self-righteous declaration of independence. No matter what though, they can never take away his pool privileges.

Btw, Lindsay Lohan is one hosting appearance away from joining the club. Should she be tapped for that fifth time, expect stricter membership requirements to follow soon after.

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Filed under Flashback!, Good Humor, Hanx, Makes You Think, Saturday Night Live

Must Flee TV: ‘Parks and Recreation’ – We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes

This week we’re checking in on NBC’s Thursday night comedies as they finish their respective seasons.  Today: ‘Parks and Recreation.’ 

Perhaps the greatest compliment you can offer Parks and Recreation is that it’s no longer referred to as the quasi-Office spin-off (ignore the fact that we just did that in the first sentence).  We’re now multiple seasons into an excellent run where Parks and Recreation has cast off the chains of its origins, found its own voice, become its own show, and surpassed its progenitor by all metrics save for Neislen ratings.  We still maintain that Community is the best show of the night, but Parks and Rec has not been behind by much, outpacing The Office during its second season.

At the end of Parks and Rec‘s brief, unimpressive first season, we laid out a plan for how the show could not only improve but excel, and we revisited this primer just prior to the start of the show’s brilliant third season.  We also presented three more key points as the show moved forward and they were as follows:

More: What do you with a problem like Rashida?

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Filed under Analysis, Checks & Balances, Flashback!, Good Humor, Must Flee TV, Must See TV

‘Survivor: One World’ Finale – Tops and Bottoms

[SPOILER ALERT!!!]

“I know I lied to you and voted you out, but I have no boobs left so have a little mercy.” – Kim 

It is somewhat fitting and poetic that in a game defined by boobs – both anatomical and intellectual – it was the least endowed woman who triumphed over her more busty peers (and, no, we’re not talking about Nina).  In the end, it’s not what you have here (pointing to our chest), but what you have here (pointing to our head).  And whatever Kim may not have or may have lost in her bosom, she certainly more than made for up with her brains (we could also note how she played the game with a lot of heart, but that would require also pointing to our chest, which would confuse the whole point.  She also played with a lot of guts, but if we’re going to point to anyone’s stomach, it’ll be Colton’s to giggle at his doughy appendix scar).

More: The road to the final goes through the Valley of the Fallen Mikes…

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Filed under Analysis, Century 21 Reality, Flashback!, Freak Out Control, The Worst, Tribal Council

Did the Oscars Set Rip-Off ‘Saturday Night Live’ Circa 1985?

Well, perhaps it’s reparations for SNL stealing Billy Crystal’s mildly racist black people at the movies joke, but it appears that Crystal and the last night’s Academy Award’s telecast stole their set from the one used in Studio 8H during Season 11 (the notorious Robert Downey Jr-Anthony Michael Hall-Randy Quaid interlude).  The similarity is too hard to ignore.

Last night, hosted by Crystal:

Season 11, Episode 2 (November 16, 1985), hosted by Chevy Chase:

YOU DECIDE.

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Filed under Flashback!, Rip-off, Saturday Night Live, You Decide, Yvonne Hudson