Yesterday, in a kind of pretzel-logic, möbius strip-like turn of events, a paparazzi captured photos of beloved New Yorker, Yankees fan and celebrity vigilante Alec Baldwin pinning another paparazzi against the hood of a car. The native Long Islander is no stranger to run-ins with the parasitic photographers, and if he ever did run for Mayor, as long rumored despite no political experience or indication that he’s interested in the job, we can rest assured that he’d make cleaning the streets of NYC’s vile, insipid paparazzo his number one campaign promise, and he’d likely exterminate them with extreme prejudice. Which got us thinking, although Warner Bros. just cast Ben Affleck as Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, wouldn’t Baldwin be perfect as the new Caped Crusader? Early, pre-Affleck, casting buzz speculated that Zack Snyder was looking for someone “established and rugged.” Check and check for Baldwin. In addition, he’s got both the strong, square chin and the requisite raspy Dark Knight baritone. And, as his latest altercation with the paparazzi proves, he’s plenty experienced in disposing of Gotham’s miscreants, thugs and riffraff. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the guy can fill out a tux like a true billionaire.
Here’s an artist’s rendering of what Batwin would look like:
Plus, The Shadow is one of the few masked crime-fighter movies that was more poorly received than Daredevil, so Baldwin no doubt has something to prove.
Yesterday we talked about how greatly Dave Letterman is revered, how, despite Leno winning the ratings battle, Letterman has clearly won the Late Night war. Part of his appeal, admittedly, has been his aloofness, his refusal to play by the rules and pander to either the audience or the guests. His rough edge is what, ironically, has made him endearing for three decades. But there are times, rare but documented, when Dave abandons his cranky side, however briefly and shows true compassion. It is that sensitive, caring, paternal part of Dave that is the flip side to his default curmudgeon state, the yin to his prickly yang that has made him so beloved and appreciated. And it was precisely that element of Dave that was on display when Lindsay Lohan appeared on The Late Show to, ostensibly, promote her appearances with Charlie Sheen in Scary Movie 5 and on Anger Management. However, with Lindsay due to enter court mandated rehab in May, and with Dave’s history of engaging troubled starlets, including Lohan, Letterman not surprisingly steered the conversation towards off-camera matters, boldly confronting Lohan about her personal problems. It was awkward and sad and kind of hard to watch, and certainly not something you’d see from Jay Leno, but it was also classic Dave. And, despite Lohan’s obvious discomfort you can see that she appreciates Dave’s concern, and, conversely, it is plain that Dave’s concern is genuine.
You can argue that Dave was wrong to drudge up her personal life – clearly Lohan is not in the right state of mind to address these things on-camera – but despite whatever sensationalist motive Dave might have had, you can’t argue that Dave does not care about Lohan. He’s a lot of things, but disingenuous it not one.
In other late night news, reports are indicating that Alec Baldwin is interested in hosting a late night talk show, potentially taking over the 1:35am slot currently (still, somewhat shockingly) occupied by Last Call with Carson Daly,* and that NBC is likewise interested in continuing their relationship with Baldwin. This show would most likely take on the form of an intimate one-on-one interview, something like a television version of Baldwin’s WNYC podcast Here’s the Thing. It would also be akin to Tom Snyder’s Late Late Show, which we discussed in yesterday’s post. As opposed to the possibility of Seth Meyers taking over for Jimmy Fallon on Late Night, which we explained might be an ill-advised choice, we think this makes more sense. Baldwin is already in the Lorne Michaels/Broadway Video family, having just finished his career redefining stint on the Michael’s produced 30 Rock and having become the definitive SNL host (non-Justin Timberlake category). He’s arguably as popular as ever, and, as his podcast interview with Billy Joel showed, he can be simultaneously intelligent and well-read while still just feeling like a regular guy from Long Island. It’s that easy-going charisma that would make Baldwin a successful interviewer, and it’s not absurd to think that people would enjoy tuning in to see him chat with other actors, writers, musicians for an hour. In fact, it has so much promise, and is so different from what Jimmy Fallon does, it might actually make for a better companion directly after The Tonight Show, whether under the banner of Late Night or as something entirely new. With Fallon’s show being so frantic, so silly, so irreverent, it might be nice to pair it with something more old-fashioned and slower-paced, even if it’s just a Baldwin hosted show one night a week. And Baldwin can do it as long as he wants, until either he or Lorne is ready to for someone or something else. Worst case scenario, it can’t be as bad as The Chevy Chase Show.
*While this post was being written Deadline reported that Last Call with Carson Daly has been renewed for another (13th!) season, so all those words might have been for naught. Still, this might not affect the Baldwin situation, or, perhaps, indicate that he would, in fact, be considered for the Late Night slot.
Before we dig deep into this week’s episode of Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites 2 Legit 2 Quit, we owe you, the loyal reader, an apology. You see, we had gotten so wrapped up in the sad, soul-sucking sagas of Shamar and Brandon that we had forgotten about Former Federal Agent Fillip(?). Specifically, we had forgotten how capable he was of equal soul-sucking, his stewardship of an imaginary corporation (painfully imaginary to everyone else but him) serving to dominate camp life and suffocating other players. We had hoped – erroneously – that the exit of Shamar and Brandon, two divisive but attention grabbing personalities, would open the game up. Instead, it just passed the speaking baton to the equal of three evils. Not that FFAF is complaining, being the singular intolerable, maddening, petulant male personality left only enhances his chances of making it to the end.
However, Fillip has some flaws in his game. Namely, he thinks he’s running some kind of top secret covert operation and explains this to every player he encounters, creating something more akin to a completely obvious overt debacle. But in addition to his delusions of grandeur, FFAF is also incredibly sensitive. He is easily rattled when someone challenges his leadership and integrity, and he demonstrates this trait when the Favorites returned to camp after they evicted Brandon from the house. Wearing the classic tucked in poncho characteristic of all great CEOs, Fillip was so hurt that Brandon said such mean, unprovoked things about him, and no one stood up for poor FFAF. Corinne jumped in too, saying how uncool it was for Brandon to only pick on her and Fill, that she sympathized with Fill’s frustration and anger with the rest of BeKool for not stepping up to the plate. And this made up The Specialist’s mind once and for all: he needs to get rid of Corinne, because her commiseration clearly makes her the biggest threat, for some reason entirely unclear to us. But that’s why he’s The Specialist and we’re just a dude writing a blog and not running a made-up paramilitary organization.
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 Heavenstar 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 Friends? A 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.
This is the penultimate entry in our series of posts looking back at the NBC’s Thursday Night comedies. Still to come is a brief review of the ‘Community’ finale (not to be confused with our already published thoughts on the show’s move to Friday nights and the exiling of Dan Harmon), but today we check-in on ’30 Rock.’
30 Rock is a curious case. We’ve contended for years that it often is the funniest show on NBC Thursday nights. That is to say that it contains the most laughs per minute ratio (lpms) of the four programs. However, that has never necessarily been a compliment. In fact – and you might be smelling a “but” coming – that proclamation has frequently preceded our criticism of the show, or, more often, been the central tenet of our negative remarks. For much of the show’s six seasons it’s felt as if Tina Fey’s creation valued the laugh above all else, and sometimes praying at the altar of the almighty chuckle does not pay the dividends one expects.
For the last week we’ve been taking a look at NBC’s Thursday night comedies, but with Kristen Wiig’s sendoff on ‘SNL’ this past weekend we decided to add her departure to the conversation.
It’s not worth going into detail about how the season finale of SNL – and the season as a whole – was middling. The Mick Jagger-hosted episode was a hit-or-miss mixed bag which typifies nearly every episode and every season. As we’ve learned from several seasons of recaps and now over a decade-and-a-half of religious viewing, that’s the show. It will never be too far up or too far down, so just try to enjoy it. What is worth discussing, as all of the internet has been doing for the past two days, is the exit of Kristen Wiig after seven stellar seasons, leaving behind a body of work that positions her as arguably the strongest female cast member of all-time.
We expect to often see search terms like “justin bieber” and “miranda cosgrove,” and to a lesser, but more encouraging, extent “rashida jones” and “tom westman,” but it surprised us how often one of our top results has been “nasim pedrad,” the talented and pretty comedian now in her sophomore season on SNL. Not that we think that she doesn’t warrant that kind of attention, but it’s intriguing that web surfers have taken a particular interest in Pedrad, considering that SNL has no shortage of attractive and funny female cast members (Kristen Wiig, Abby Elliott, Vanessa Bayer, Jenny Slate until this season). Then again, it’s not terribly shocking, as Pedrad has continued to impress us with her diversity and poise, deftly portraying women like Kim Kardashian, Azam Farahi (aka Mrs. Ahmadinejad) and Cristiane Amanpour, as well as performing Lil Blaster in the Underground Records commercials.
Pedrad has also fallen into the unfortunate pattern of playing hyperactive, loquacious, often male, teenagers, which has been the only knock against her so far. However, despite that, our favorite performance from Pedrad was as wise beyond her years teenager Bedilia, a confident young lady who exhibits just a little too much appreciation for her parents.
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See? She more than holds her own against Alec Baldwin there. If Pedrad can excise those other, more annoying, less successful characters then we see no reason why she won’t be one of our most popular search terms for years to come.
Back in May we had every intention of compiling a “best of” list for SNL‘s 35th season. However, for one reason, or another, that never happened. So, instead of just abandoning this intention altogether we decided to put together a list for the 2010 calendar year, and then come spring we’ll post revised rankings that only pertain to the 2010-2011 campaign. Sound good? Great. And hopefully this will hold you over until Jim Carrey graces Studio 8H on Saturday night.
1. Jeff Bridges/Cookie Monster Monologue: Obviously we’re completely biased towards this piece, but nothing from the previous 12 months provided us with nearly as much glee. It gave us much the same feeling we imagine Cookie Monster experiences when he devours a particularly delicious cookie.
To this day we consider Jim Carrey’s May 1996 hosting turn as the best SNL of our generation (with perhaps Alec Baldwin’s November 2006 hosting appearance as the strongest since, but certainly not better), so it was with great excitement that we learned that Carrey will be returning after almost 15 years to host the first SNL of 2011. Set your DVRs for 11:30pm on January 8, kids. If anyone could pull SNL out of its doldrums, it might be Carrey (although, the NBC website might want to get his name spelled name right).
Last week we hypothesized that the Halloween episode of SNL hosted by Jon Hamm would either be the best of the season or the laziest. Hamm, making his third hosting appearance, has already proven to be a go-to, top-notch host, one that brings out the best in the cast and crew. But, on the other hand, what often happens when the show is blessed with a skilled host is that they relax, relying too much on the host’s charm and natural comedic talents (see: Galifiankis, Zach). However, what we were treated to this week was something in between, and something, in hindsight, typical of a third hosting go ’round. During a debut performance the material can often be safe, figuring out if the host has what it takes, a bit of a feeling out process. If that host succeeds, then when he or she comes back for a second stint the crew is energized, knowing that they have someone who will deliver. You could see that confidence, motivation and excitement in Hamm’s second hosting job last winter. But when a host comes back for the three-peat, the crew is now so comfortable and at ease that they’re willing to taking more chances, throwing more caution to the wind. So what you receive is not mainstream yuks and recurring sketches, or weary, unmotivated punchlines and recurring sketches, but a sense of adventure laced with apathy for the viewer. This is what happens when you have a host who no longer needs to prove himself, who has tenure, which is why so many of Alec Baldwin’s shows are peppered with offbeat sketches, some that delight (like last season’s bizarre “Timecrowave“) and some that crash and burn (like “Arizona Evenings” from the same episode). Judging from this past weekend’s show, it seems that Hamm is now in that class.