UPDATED: 4:30 PM: Saturday Night Live exec producer Lorne Michaels says he’s bringing seven or eight female African-American comediennes to New York to audition for the show on Monday — one of whom will be added to the cast in January.
As many as two could “potentially be considered” but he does not want to add too many women at this time because the cast already has five of them, Michaels told The New York Times, in an interview given in the wake of a news report he’d tried out about a dozen black female comediennes in Los Angeles on December 1. Three paragraphs later, the reporter reminded readers that when criticism of the show’s new cast members broke out before the start of the new season, Michaels had said his process for selecting cast members “was driven purely by talent considerations.” Michaels this afternoon told the NYT he had seen two black women performers in Chicago when he was hiring for the show this fall, but they didn’t pan out when brought to New York for their final auditions. “Then when the deck got reshuffled and as we premiered we realized, it looks a different way.” (That would also be about the time the press started shellacking Michaels because the list included no black women and the late night program had not had a black female cast member for six years.)
A couple paragraphs later, the NYT reported Michaels “did not attribute the surge of interest in securing a black female directly to the criticism the show had faced,” but acknowledged that it was “100 percent good for the show to have an African-American woman” in the cast.
PREVIOUS: 11:58 AM: NBC‘s Saturday Night Live held a tryout for black comediennes this month at The Groundlings in Los Angele. SNL holds showcase/auditions for potential new talent with some regularity in various locations. But this one attracted more media attention than usual because it was set up for black female hopefuls — one of whom posted a photo on Instagram of the group of hopefuls backstage. And, of course, the auditions took place a few months after the NBC late night series announced its lineup of newbies, and TV critics began hammering the show because the list included no black women, again. Two black male cast members poured a little lighter fluid on the flame – Jay Pharoah, when he told website The Grio he hoped the show would add a black woman, “like they said they were going to do last year, ” and Kenan Thompson, when he told TV Guide the problem is “they never find ones [black comediennes] that are ready.”
Related: ‘SNL’ Camp’s On New Cast: Black Comediennes Aren’t “Ready”
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What will Lorne Michaels come up with next in his effort to put the kibosh on the weekly casting embarrassment that is Saturday Night Live? This is shaping up as one of the NBC late-night show’s more fun seasons to watch, as Michaels alternately snarks and hand-wrings about the show’s cast-diversity kerfuffle, since announcing the latest crop of new performers.
Over the weekend Michaels made it tough for another black woman to guest-host the sketch comedy show this season, after using Scandal star Kerry Washington like a sock puppet to deliver his latest “nuts to you” response to critics. Too bad, because there’s no one on staff to play FLOTUS, Oprah, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, etc. now that cast member Kenan Thompson isn’t doing drag. Read More »
Saturday Night Live with host Kerry Washington and musical guest Eminem last night averaged a 4.9/12 in the metered market households, a season high and the show’s best result since March 9 when … Read More »
Lorne Michaels & Co. went for the elephant in the room with Kerry Washington hosting amidst Saturday Night Live‘s recent diversity firestorm. Giving the Scandal actress a workout playing Michelle Obama, Oprah, and (offstage) Beyonce in her cold open, the … Read More »
UPDATED, 9:45 AM: Kerry Washington found herself in the middle of Saturday Night Live’s new-cast kerfuffle this morning when the NBC late-night show announced it had booked her to make her hosting debut on November 2. SNL may have first approached ABC’s Scandal star last season, and booked her weeks ago, but the timing of SNL‘s announcement raised eyebrows this morning, putting her at the epicenter of the latest media storm over SNL’s performers. In case you were off the grid yesterday, SNL cast member Kenan Thompson made some news when he told TV Guide that, yes, it’s the show’s sixth consecutive year without a black female cast member because, turns out, there are just no black female comics out there who are qualified for the gig. “It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson said. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” When asked how the show plans to handle any spoofs of black female celebrities (a FLOTUS gag, maybe?) Thompson responded, “I don’t know. We just haven’t done them. That’s what I’m saying. Maybe [Jay Pharoah] will do it or something, but even he doesn’t really want to do it.”
Maybe they can do a FLOTUS sketch on November 2!
Thompson’s interview managed the impossible, driving from the media’s mind all thought of Miley Cyrus’ turn as Twerking Michele Bachmann on SNL’s second episode this season, as their attention returned to the casting controversy that made headlines when the show’s newbies were unveiled. While there is some diversity among the newcomers (Noel Wells, for instance is half-Tunisian/Hispanic), critics complain they’re too white — and especially lacking in black comediennes, which, the press in numbers pointed out yesterday, continues SNL‘s dismal track record on that score. Washington, who plays a hot-shot Washington, D.C. “fixer” having an affair with POTUS on ABC’s Shonda Rhimes hit Scandal, is known to be pretty outspoken and may wind up weighing in on the subject. Or not. If she doesn’t, there’s always Eminem, who’s returning for his sixth appearance as SNL’s musical guest that night. Read More »
Monica Corcoran Harel is a Deadline contributor
Sure, you see some big-screen leading ladies every year at the Emmys — especially now that TV is more de rigueur than romantic comedies. But even the sight of radiant Claire Danes, or Nicole Kidman at last year’s show, doesn’t draw the European fashion houses like ants to a picnic. The bottom line is this: Movie stars are global personalities; TV actresses get mobbed Stateside. When it comes to award shows, the Emmys provide a chance for American designers who don’t go by one name to shine.
Related: Nikki Finke Live-Snarks 65th Emmys
This year, we saw a strong showing from LA native Monique Lhuillier — on Anna Farris in a canary yellow chiffon dress that clashed a bit with her complexion and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ rose gold strapless column dress. Tina Fey looked electric in a body-con cobalt blue halter gown that Narcisco Rodriguez made specifically for her. In fact, a few lucky ladies got A-list treatment with custom-made gowns. Newcomer Taylor Schilling (Orange Is The New Black) wore a dress designed for her by Thakoon — no small feat for a great actress who wouldn’t get recognized in Orange County. It was wicked fun to see January Jones act all nonchalant about her one-off dusty rose Givenchy confection: “They made it for me,” she said without an ounce of glee when Ryan Seacrest asked her why she chose that particular dress. The color didn’t wow on the red carpet.
Some of the actresses who didn’t get handmade frocks plundered the Resort 2014 collections, which showed in June in New York. Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka wore a colorful though slightly distracting Delpozo dress while Zosia Mamet of Girls selected a mixed-media organza gown by Honor. The black leather bustier felt more like an “edgy girl” accessory than an organic piece of the dress, but it definitely strayed miles from the wardrobe of her less-than-alternative character. Elisabeth Moss gleaned her black-and-white strapless Andrew Gn gown from his resort line too. Read More »
Kerry Washington and Diahann Carroll, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Deschanel, and Allison Janney and Anna Faris are pairing up as presenters for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. The telecast will air live … Read More »
AwardsLine Editor Christy Grosz, Managing Editor Anthony D’Alessandro and contributors Paul Brownfield and Thomas J. McLean assist with Deadline’s TV coverage.
Four of the lead acting drama series hopefuls Kevin Spacey (House Of Cards), Damian Lewis (Homeland), Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) share thoughts on their characters, shows and nominations.
KEVIN SPACEY (House Of Cards, Netflix)
AwardsLine: What is it about your character, U.S. Representative Francis Underwood, that translates to audiences? He can be so evil.
Spacey: It’s incredibly fun to play someone who doesn’t have any allegiances. He doesn’t care if he’s ideological or conservative. Francis sees opportunity and wants to get shit done. He wants progress and isn’t bound by labels. People view him as diabolical, but he’s very effective. To have our government in stalemate and in gridlock—it’s conceivable that this world is exciting for the audience.
Related: EMMYS: Drama Series Overview Read More »
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
In the rush to honor Showtime’s Homeland in 2012, the one Emmy nominee considered something of a sure thing was Claire Danes for drama actress. And she did win. What surprised many was that costar Damian Lewis—and the series itself—also won. This time, while a Homeland sweep is even less likely, Danes remains the safest bet to repeat on the lead drama actress side. But among the actors, the race is less clear: A pair of previous category winners (Bryan Cranston of AMC’s Breaking Bad and Lewis) face off against an Oscar winner (Kevin Spacey of Netflix’s House Of Cards). An intriguing question is whether a Netflix series will be honored in its maiden Emmy voyage. Also bidding for Emmy love are first-time nominee Jeff Daniels of HBO’s The Newsroom, 11-timer Jon Hamm of AMC’s Mad Men and two-timer Hugh Bonneville of the PBS soap Downton Abbey. And if lead actress Danes does repeat, she will have overcome a formidable field headed by first-time nominees Kerry Washington (ABC’s Scandal), Vera Farmiga (A&E’s Bates Motel) and Robin Wright (Netflix’s House Of Cards). But Washington does stand a chance to win.
Related: EMMYS: Drama Series Overview
BRYAN CRANSTON, BREAKING BAD (AMC)
Emmy History: 10 noms, 3 wins
Cranston already has won three Emmys for his performance as teacher-turned-drug lord Walter White, and his series has arguably never been hotter. If anything, his performance only grows even more dynamic in Season 5. He lost last year in something of an upset to Homeland’s Damian Lewis, and this time he’s got to beat a two-time Oscar winner in Kevin Spacey plus Lewis. Spacey’s going to be tough to defeat. Maybe too tough. Read More »
Matt Webb Mitovich is an AwardsLine contributor.
Looking for a female TV character who’s as fierce in her work life as she is in her (messy) love life? It’s been handled. As Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal, Kerry Washington – building on a career that has included Oscar-winning films such as Ray and Django Unchained - stands in the eye of a pop-culture storm, fronting a show that drops jaws with astounding frequency, makes Twitter all atwitter and offers, at long last, a chance for a black woman to win a lead drama actress Emmy.
AwardsLine: You have said that your decision was not so much to do TV, but to do a Shonda Rhimes show.
Kerry Washington: Even more so, my decision was to do this show. When I read the script, I was blown away. And knowing that this (was a Rhimes production) reinforced the idea that this could be a really amazing opportunity.
AwardsLine: With your first full season behind you, how has the product met the promise?
Washington: I will just say that the level of excellence that the people around me produce on a daily basis continues to astound me. The writing that I’m able to hold in my hands, the level of acting I’m surrounded by, the cinematographers, the costume design—all of it feels like a magical product. Read More »
Diane Haithman is a contributor to Deadline.
Scandal fans watched tonight’s jam-packed season finale and received a major revelation SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! because of a single line (“Dad???”). The ABC drama’s ’gladiators’ as they are called heard it live at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at the end of the first-ever onstage table read of the show using the finale script. The session ended about 10 minutes into the 10 PM PT airing. The cast whooped and hollered too. “The satisfying part is, I knew all along,” Morton crowed as the cast finished reading Act 6 which revealed that Rowan (Joe Morton) is the father of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). At the top of the session, show creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes said she hoped the experiment would give the audience a feeling of what it’s like to be in the room at a real table read. Washington said she didn’t know that would be a plot twist until the first table read of the script. “I grew up in a household where Joe Morton is a great American hero,” she said. “Every week I would say: ‘Joe, I really hope we have some scenes together. He’d say: ‘We do. We do.’ ”
Related: ABC To Air Some Dramas In Two Batches Of 12 Episodes
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Oscarcast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Maron have already enlisted Barbra Streisand and Shirley Bassey for show duties, and now have added another nod to that generation with seven-time nominee and two-time winner Jane Fonda. Here’s the release that just went out:
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Academy Award® winner Jane Fonda will join Jennifer Garner, Kristen Stewart and Kerry Washington to present on the Oscar telecast, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today.
Fonda earned seven nominations and won Academy Awards for her roles in “Klute” and “Coming Home.” Garner was seen in this year’s “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” and will be seen next in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Stewart is best known for her role as Bella Swan in the “Twilight” saga and also starred in 2012′s “On the Road” and “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Washington starred in the Best Picture Nominee “Django Unchained” and was seen in “A Thousand Words.” Washington is also the star of ABC’s hit drama “Scandal.”
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Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Scandal creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes says producers of the ABC series to “ramp up the drama” for the second season. During a conversation on the series’ Hollywood set at the … Read More »
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Kerry Washington, the star of ABC’s Scandal who also has a key role in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, was tactfully circumspect today when Deadline asked about Spike Lee’s comments regarding … Read More »
“What has been accomplished and what is at stake, whether we can get health care, afford to go to college, be guaranteed equal pay, all of these things are at great great risk,” The Avengers star told the … Read More »
BREAKING: The Democratic Party has firmed Scarlett Johansson and Kerry Washington to give major speeches at the Democratic National Convention tonight at 7 PM. The choice of the actresses is hardly random. Organizers of President Obama‘s re-election campaign have taken a decidedly different track with its use of Hollywood celebrities than the Republicans did last week with Clint Eastwood’s rambling lecture to an empty chair that had many scratching their heads.
Related: Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman & Kerry Washington On DNC Schedule: CNN Read More »
The trio and longtime supporters of President Obama would appear Thursday, the same night Obama and Joe Biden will accept the nomination of their party during the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. CNN … Read More »
Luke Y. Thompson is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of Comic-Con.
Django Unchained a Shaft prequel? Really? There’s one more week of shooting on Django, and they just did scenes with Jonah Hill as a member of the Regulators (the pre-Civil War version of the KKK). Quentin Tarantino said it turned into one of the funniest scenes he’s ever done, which he says is up there with the name-colors conversation in Reservoir Dogs. There is one character in the movie that ties into the larger Tarantino-verse which he’s keeping a surprise, but he says Kerry Washington‘s character Brunhilde von Shaft is, in his mind, an ancestor of John Shaft – this prompted QT to start singing the theme song out loud. The panel was moderated by Anthony Breznican from Entertainment Weekly, who said he needed a whole new level of grandiloquent profanity to describe Django, a “twisted, bloody fairy tale,” before introducing Jamie Foxx, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson (with Jeff Bridges-looking facial hair and gray ponytail), Christoph Waltz (long hair and a bushy white beard that almost looks false, like Santa Claus), Washington, and Tarantino (in a leather jacket, dorky felt fedora, and a T-shirt depicting many of his characters as kids playing in a sandbox).
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