With only five new installments of Saturday Night Live in the three months since the beginning of 2014, the late-night show has struggled to find a rhythm with viewers lately. Last night’s show hosted by Louis C.K. with musical guest Sam Smith averaged a 4.0 in the metered market households and a 2.1 in adults 18-49 in the 25 markets with Local People Meters. That was down a tenth in households and even in 18-49 with SNL‘s most recent original hosted by Lena Dunham which posted SNL‘s second-lowest results of the season in both households and 18-49. Last night’s show too is the second-lowest rated of the season in both categories. (The season low marks were logged by the October 26 show hosted by Ed Norton, 3.9 in households, and the Nov. 23 edition hosted by Josh Hutcherson, 2.0 in 18-49). In comparison, Louis C.K.’s first turn as SNL hosts was one of the highest rated of the 2012-13 season, drawing a 3.0 in 18-49.
The offbeat comedy that won a writing Emmy in 2012 and scored the first Outstanding Comedy Series nom for a basic cable show finally is heading back to a TV screen near you. There was no Emmy love for FX’s Louie last year, however, because the cable net said in October 2012 that series was taking a year off. But today FX said Season 4 of the acclaimed series will premiere May 5 with back-to-back new episodes. The network ordered a 13-episode season of the single-camera show, but series creator-director-writer-star Louis C.K. delivered a 14th. In announcing the hiatus in 2012, he and FX President John Landgraf referred to the first three seasons of Louie as the first act of a trilogy, with Louis C.K. noting he hoped the show could go to nine seasons. The multihyphenate has kept busy during the series’ time off, inking an overall deal with FX Productions in December, co-writing a comedy with Zach Galifianakis that FX ordered to pilot in January; touring with his stand-up acts and offering $5 downloads of an old indie pic he did way back in 1998. He also has been tapped for a voice role in Illumination Entertainment’s untitled Pets Movie and is set to host Saturday Night Live for a second time March 29.
Related: NY PaleyFest: Louis C.K. Sounds Off
Louis CK, Jay Leno, Howard Stern, Tina Fey, Patton Oswalt, and Todd Barry are among the guests set for the new season on Crackle, the Sony-owned free video hub. Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is created, written and produced by Jerry Seinfeld — you might have heard of him. Here’s the trailer for Season 3, which goes live at January 2 at noon ET; watch for a drone, a DeLorean, and ruminations on Macy’s shirts, weird dreams, 56-year-old hookers and more:
FX Networks is making it clear it wants to stay in the Louis CK business. The network already has Louis CK’s acclaimed comedy series Louie, produced by FX Productions. Now FX Prods. has inked an overall deal with Louis CK and his company Pig Newton to develop and produce new series. The agreement is separate from Louie, which this year earned ad-supported cable’s first best comedy series Emmy nomination. It returns for Season 4 in May 2014. The new series under the overall pact, Louis CK’s first, will be created or supervised by Louis CK, who would have the option to write or direct any of them and will executive produce. Blair Breard, an executive producer on Louie, would also serve as a producer or executive producer, with 3 Arts Entertainment attached as producers. Louis CK already is a Renaissance man, writing, directing, editing and starring in his shows. Now he will add a new role — guiding other creators as they get their projects off the ground. “Working with Louis CK has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my career,” said John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions. “So many incredibly talented artists want to work with Louis and follow down the independent and idiosyncratic creative trail he has blazed. I can’t wait to see who he brings through our door, not to mention any new projects that he wants …
A lawsuit filed this week proves that money is no laughing matter to Louis C.K. The production company run by the creator and star of FX’s Louie took the boards of the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan, the Motion Picture Industry Individual Account Plan, and the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan to federal court Wednesday over $28,000 in health and benefit contributions that his Pig Newton shingle says it doesn’t owe. Owned by Louis Szekely (his real name), Pig Newton wants the NY-based District Court to grant a declaration that it doesn’t have to pay the dough as the unions are demanding. The union claim actually comes from the multi-tasking comedian’s role as editor on the Emmy-nominated series; Szekley is the main writer, director and EP of the series as well as its star. He actually fired himself as editor in February 2012 and brought aboard Woody Allen veteran Susan E. Morse in the position. The dispute comes out of how contributions are assessed by the plans — a process the lawsuit calls “an invalid rule.” Pig Newton claims it has made all necessary contribution based on the hours worked by all the company’s employees and has an audit to prove it. The plans are saying that’s true, but that they also assess contributions based on Szekley’s role …
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Although both lead acting races in comedy feature plenty of familiar faces from last year, lead actor is an especially tough category to gauge. A pair of previous winners (Alec Baldwin for NBC’s 30 Rock and Jim Parsons for CBS’ The Big Bang Theory) will face off against a heavyweight wild card (Louis C.K. for FX’s beloved Louie). In the case of C.K., the love and admiration the comedian receives for being a multihyphenate (writer, director, producer, editor, etc.) is rather unprecedented. But Baldwin and Parsons, who have made their roles iconic over the past several seasons, are unique talents in their own right. Their deserving competition includes Jason Bateman for Netflix’s resurrected Arrested Development, along with a pair of past nominees from Showtime series: Matt LeBlanc (Episodes) and Don Cheadle (House Of Lies). On the lead actress side, the big question is, how do you stop Julia Louis-Dreyfus from repeating? The actress is seen as having only strengthened her performance as Vice President Selina Meyer in the second-year HBO comedy Veep. Her chief competition comes from Laura Dern for the canceled HBO comedy Enlightened and previous winner Tina Fey for NBC’s departed 30 Rock. Plus, there are three repeat nominees looming as dark horses: Lena Dunham for HBO’s Girls, Amy Poehler for NBC’s Parks And Recreation and Edie Falco for Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. Let the speculation begin.
Baldwin has been nominated seven straight years for his sublime performance as Jack Donaghy, winning twice (in 2008 and ’09). Sentiment figures to be on his side to win a third for 30 Rock’s final lap. His divisive politics and frequent controversial outbursts (most recently via Twitter in early July) work against him. He’s his own worst enemy. If Baldwin weren’t so good, he’d be easy to hate.