Briefly, 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.
Tag Archives: Seth Meyers
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.
The plot keeps thickening with the NBC late night situation, and it continued today with the buzz that Lorne Michaels would like to anoint current “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers as successor to Jimmy Fallon on Late Night, just as Meyers followed Fallon behind the Update desk (albeit, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in the interregnum). However, we think, in this case, Lorne might be making a poor decision.
With sources reporting that Jimmy Fallon will take over The Tonight Show in 2014 it’s only natural to start speculating who will replace him at 12:35am. And, similarly, it’s only natural to start speculating who Lorne Michaels will nominate for that position, as the show is produced his Broadway Video and it was he who plucked Conan O’Brien out of relative obscurity to launch the program in 1993 and who rescued Fallon from near-irrelevance to grab the reins in 2009. So whomever the next tenant of Studio 6B is will probably be chosen by Michaels and will likely come out of his comedy stable. However, while Meyers fits that bill, a longtime writer and cast member on SNL, he might be the wrong guy at the wrong time. He’s just too much in the Fallon mold, and the show would be wise to move in another direction.
Muppet Monday: Our Long-Awaited Thoughts on the Impending Arrival of ‘The Muppets:’ Or Why We’re Dreading the Thing We Wanted More Than Anything Else
In two days The Muppets will return to theaters after more than a decade away from the big screen. It seems like just yesterday that we were salivating over the whispers of a Muppet resurrection orchestrated by Jason Segel (yes, that Jason Segel). After spending years on the brink of obsolescence – thanks to bad business deals, changing tastes, the boom of CGI, and general Hollywood bureaucracy – it began to seem like the Muppets would never be given the opportunity to recapture the glory they once possessed, that they would forever be relegated to an aging, evermore antiquated attraction at Disneyland, and truly exist only on DVD and in the hearts and memories of people over 25. We yearned for their return, and while we never imagined their savior would be a geek in shining armor like Segel, we were thrilled when the rumors began to circulate that someone who grew up on the Muppets, someone who loved and cherished them as much as we did, was going to resuscitate them. Not some out of touch, graying puppeteers, or even the Henson family, but someone with a fresh, relevant perspective whose primary hope was to honor the spirit and style of Jim Henson. We could not have been more excited.
And now, with The Muppets about to unspool at theaters across the country, what we feel is not excitement, but trepidation. Why? Because of this:
Well, we weren’t devastated. Maybe it was because we were still ecstatic from the Jets victory, and that residual giddiness made us a little more lenient, a little looser (the beers couldn’t have hurt either). Whatever it was, we were in a good mood, and Jim Carrey’s return to SNL didn’t ruin it. It wasn’t a landmark episode, or a groundbreaking night, nor did they seem that they were fully back from vacation. But, given our lofty, unrealistic, expectations, it was satisfying. And (unfortunately), that’s enough.
And let’s, for a change, start at the top. We often completely ignore the cold open when reviewing SNL, because it’s usually one of the weakest, least memorable parts of the show, certainly in non-election years. We can’t pinpoint when it started exactly, but perhaps it’s been since the great Bush-Gore battle of 2000 that the cold open has almost felt obligated to be political sketch. Often times that’s made for great, funny television (Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, occasionally Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden), but more often than not we’re treated to a mildly amusing address from by Fred Armisen as President Obama. It’s become predictable and somewhat boring. So what a surprise it was for the show to begin and discover Armisen not as Obama but as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
By now you’ve all seen this Funny or Die sketch (because it was uploaded almost a week ago, which this day in age classifies it as old) that brings together the all time team of SNL presidential imitators. It’s great, right? Totally awesome (especially Chevy, doing what Chevy does best).Vodpod videos no longer available.
However, what concerns me is what this video, and videos of its ilk, means to SNL. Why I am so concerned about a show that has basically been skating by since 1993, if not earlier, and has never really faced any real competition, I don’t know (and no, MADtv doesn’t count). But the more I see the Funny or Die videos featuring both SNL and non-SNL talent I wonder how long the show will be able to compete (especially now that Funny or Die has its own show on HBO, although the one episode I saw was rather underwhelming). And this Presidential Reunion, directed by Hollywood heavyweight Ron Howard, really caused me pause.
It was an up and down decade for Saturday Night Live, but then again it’s been an up and down 34 years for Saturday Night Live. The show started gangbusters in 2000, taking advantage of the 2000 election and perhaps becoming more relevant than it had at any point during the previous decade (media and communication majors and political scientists will be analyzing SNL‘s Gore-Bush debates for years to come, studying how the show interpreted the real events and how the sketches then in turn affected the election). Then the show kind of treaded water until the 2004 election when it once again made the best of the political fodder, although with the relatively benign John Kerry as a central character the political satire was not as entertaining or as incisive as 2000. But With a mostly new cast then the beginning of the decade the show returned to prominence in 2008, most notably mining the comedy goldmine that was the renegade Sarah Palin. However, although SNL’s strongest seasons were during the election years, the best sketches were scattered throughout the aughts, with a fair share of political material, but also crazy characters, inventive monologues, traditional bits and the now ubiquitous Digital Shorts. Here, in a particular but not necessarily meaningful order is a very subjective list of the top ten (and then some) Saturday Night Live sketches of the decade that was.*
I wasn’t blogging when this Alec Baldwin episode aired in early 2006, but if I was I would have no doubt touted it as the best show in years, and I would have been in good company. It stood out as the most buzzworthy episode since the 2004 election, and its success was due in large part to Baldwin, who excelled in sketches like a new “The Tony Bennet Show,” “Platinum Lounge” (with Steve Martin) and a Valtrex commercial parody. But the stand out sketch, for us, was “Carpool,” a duet with Kristen Wiig. Sharing a ride to work seemed like a good idea, until each person continuously and unwittingly brings up a painful wound from the other’s past. Simply, any sketch that can truly sell the line “Bobby McFerrin raped my grandmother,” deserves placement on a “best of” list. It’s the best sketch in what might have been the best episode of the decade, and perhaps the premier episode among Baldwin’s 14 turns as host (I guess because this sketch includes a brief cameo from a Celine Dion tune it’s prohibited from being posted on Hulu. Luckily, some random Russian site saved the day and has no such qualms about hosting a video that includes unlicensed music from the French-Canadian ice queen).Vodpod videos no longer available.