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Noël Wells & John Milhiser Also Leaving ‘SNL’, Michael Patrick O’Brien Future Unclear

Nellie Andreeva

Noël Wells & John Milhiser Also Leaving ‘SNL’, Michael Patrick O’Brien Future UnclearEXCLUSIVE: Saturday Night Live is going through the first phase of annual cast changeover, which involves not bringing back some existing players. As usual, most affected are first-year actors. I’ve learned that the contracts of Noël Wells and John Milhiser, who joined SNL as featured players last September, are not being renewed, joining fellow rookie Brooks Wheelan, who announced his dismissal yesterday on Twitter.

mikeobrienThings are murkier about Michael Patrick O’Brien, who made his debut as a featured player last season after a four-year stint as a writer on the show. I hear discussions are underway for O’Brien’s future on the show that could involve him returning to the writing staff or continuing to have an-screen presence if he stays on. With anchoring experience on the popular Web series 7 Minutes In Heaven, some have been calling for him to get a shot at co-hosting Weekend Update. Read More »

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Brooks Wheelan Fired from ‘Saturday Night Live’ After One Season

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 5:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Brooks Wheelan Fired from ‘Saturday Night Live’ After One SeasonIt was a difficult, rebuilding season at Saturday Night Live, and boss Lorne Michaels promised there would be casting changes for next fall. The first and widely expected one — Brooks Wheelan has been let go after one, hardly memorable season as a featured player with very little screen time. He announced the news on Twitter. “Had a blast and loved every second of it,” Wheelan wrote. “I’m totally honored to be able to make this next joke… FIRED FROM NEW YORK IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!”

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UPDATE: Tracy Morgan Released From Rehab Center, Suing Wal-Mart Over Crash

By | Saturday July 12, 2014 @ 12:26pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Tracy Morgan Released From Rehab Center, Suing Wal-Mart Over Crash9TH UPDATE, 12:26 PM: Morgan’s publicist released the following statement this afternoon, “Tracy has been released from the rehabilitation center and will continue his recovery efforts at home with an aggressive outpatient program.  He asked me to pass along his sincerest gratitude to everyone who has helped him get to this point.  He would also appreciate some privacy during this crucial point in his recovery. In regards to the reports of a lawsuit, I can confirm that Tracy, along with the other victims of this horrific accident, have filed suit.”

8TH UPDATE, JULY 11: Tracy Morgan is suing Wal-Mart over the June 7 crash in which the limo bus he and others were riding was rear-ended by one of the retail giant’s tractor-trailers. The complaint filed in New Jersey District Court alleges that Wal-Mart knew or should have known that the truck’s driver, Kevin Roper, had been awake for more than 24 hours when he fell asleep behind the wheel and rammed into the limo. It also says the truck’s collision-avoidance systems did not engage and that “Wal-Mart knew or should have known that one of the truck’s most important safety features had been compromised.” The former 30 Rock star was critically injured in the New Jersey Turnpike wreck, which killed his mentor, comedian James McNair. McNair’s widow Krista Millea also is a plaintiff along with Morgan’s assistant Jeffrey Millea and comic Ardie Fuqua Jr, both of whom were injured in the crash. The suit reads, “As a direct and proximate result of the physical injuries sustained by Mr. Morgan in the collision, he has been in capacitated from pursuing his usual employment and other activities, may be left with disabilities that will in the future similarly incapacitate him and cause him pain and suffering, and may require medical treatment.” The suit seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial. David Sirotkin, Benedict Morelli and David Ratner of Morelli Alters Ratner LLP in New York are representing the plaintiffs.

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UPDATE: Tracy Morgan Still In Critical Condition But Improving, Says Rep

By | Thursday June 12, 2014 @ 3:55pm PDT
Mike Fleming

tracy4TH UPDATE, 3:45 PM: 30 Rock and SNL veteran Tracy Morgan is in critical but stable condition five days after the fatal New Jersey car crash that injured Morgan and three others and killed mentor James McNair. Comedian Ardie Fuqua, Jeffrey Millea and Harris Stanton were the other limo bus passengers hospitalized after the crash. “Today was a better day. While Tracy remains in critical, but stable, condition, he continues to show signs of improvement,” said Morgan’s rep. “His medical team remains optimistic that his recovery is progressing. Megan remains by his side and is relaying the countless good wishes and prayers that his family, friends and fans have been sending their way. In addition, Jeff [Millea]‘s wife asked us to pass along that Jeff has also shown much improvement over the past few days. She is very thankful for the love and support she and their family continue to receive.” Read More »

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EMMYS: Lorne Michaels On ‘SNL’s Rebuilding Year & NBC’s Latenight Reboot

Nellie Andreeva

There is no one who has had more success and holds more influence in late-night at the moment than Lorne Michaels. Lorne Michaels Emmys 2014 InterviewNext season will mark the 40th anniversary of the Canadian native’s signature series, Saturday Night Live, which redefined variety shows. He has executive produced NBC’s Late Night since 1993 and last year added oversight of The Tonight Show, which he helped bring back to New York. Hosted by his SNL pupils Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, the new Tonight Show and Late Night have been ratings powerhouses. In a rare interview, Michaels, 69, talks about his longtime connection to The Tonight Show that goes back over 50 years when he first saw it live, shares behind-the-scene SNL stories of how he almost became the host of Weekend Update and how his recurring cameos on the show came about and reflects on SNL’s “hard” rebuilding season and possible casting changes.

DEADLINE: When did you become interested in late-night?
LORNE MICHAELS: I think probably in high school. I would stay up to watch The Tonight Show, first with Jack Paar and later Johnny Carson. They were 90-minute shows then. I’d have early classes, so I’d Awardsline logo_use this onewatch the first 15 minutes and say, “I’m just going to watch the monologue, and then maybe I’ll see what Johnny does at the end.” And then, it’d be 1 in the morning, and credits would be rolling. Read More »

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EMMYS Q&A: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Co-Creator Michael Schur On Comedic Cops

Awardsline logo_use this oneMichael Schur knows how to make comedy work when TV viewership is splintered by the internet and delayed DVR viewing. For him, nabbing a large audience isn’t a sprint so much as a marathon, and that philosophy has translated into a cult following for each of the series he’s helped create: The Office, Parks and Recreation and now the Andy Samberg-starrer Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Schur and his former Harvard buddy Daniel Goor set out with Brooklyn to reboot the cop comedy, drawing inspiration from such benchmarks as Barney Miller and Police Squad! They also have maximized laughs by mimicking the handheld shooting style of cop dramas. The show has won over critics and earned Golden Globes for comedy series and lead actor for Samberg.

Michael Schur Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creatorAwardsline: How did Brooklyn Nine-Nine get off the ground?
Michael Schur: I was under a deal at NBCUniversal, and Dan Goor was the number two guy on Parks and Recreation since the beginning. There hadn’t been many comedies set in a police precinct since Barney Miller. It’s hard to find areas in the comedy landscape that haven’t been troughed. After pitching to Universal, we sold the show to Fox. When Andy Samberg came aboard after Saturday Night Live, all the big stumbling blocks you can run into with developing a show went away. Read More »

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‘Saturday Night Live’ Finale Draws Average Ratings, Down From Last Year

By | Sunday May 18, 2014 @ 10:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

sambergsnlSaturday Night Live wrapped a rough transitional season last night. The season finale, hosted by Andy Samberg and musical guest St. Vincent, averaged a 4.0 in metered market households and a 2.1 in adults 18-49 in the markets with Local People Meters. That was up from last week’s season lows (3.8 in HH, 1.8 in 18-49) and about average for this season, which started strong before settling into ratings just north of a 4 HH rating and 2 in 18-49. For comparison, last season’s SNL finale with host Ben Affleck and musical guest Kanye West posted a 4.7 HH rating and a 2.7 in adults 18-49. The ratings were matched by this season premiere hosted by Tina Fey.

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‘SNL’: Cold Open On Jay-Z Vs. Solange Smackdown Sparkles With Maya Rudolph’s Beyonce (Video)

By | Sunday May 18, 2014 @ 4:23am PDT

snl18Saturday Night Live cold-opened its 39th season finale riffing on the security video of Jay-Z and Solange duking it out in an elevator, providing a “soundtrack” revealing that Solange was just trying to brush a spider off the mogul rapper’s  jacket. Even with the delicious Maya Rudolph showing up as Beyonce, it was pretty flat beer. Guest host and SNL alum Andy Samberg, hot off his Brooklyn Nine-Nine series (produced by NBCUniversal and shown on Fox), monologued about his prominence in SNL videos and played dueling impressionists with Bill Hader and, very briefly, Martin Short. It wasn’t until almost an hour into the show that SNL troupers present and past fired on all cylinders, with a Michael Sam-inspired Vogelcheck family orgy of tongue-in-everyone-else’s-cheeks (and ears, hair, etc.) featuring alums Fred Armisen, Kristin Wiig and Paul Rudd. Here’s the opener:

Here’s Samberg’s intro:

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NBC Sets ‘Saturday Night Live’ 40th Anniversary Special

By | Monday May 12, 2014 @ 8:27am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

snl18NBC‘s Saturday Night Live is turning 40 next year, and NBC will mark the anniversary with a special to air February 15, during the February sweep. The network’s chairman Bob Greenblatt made the announcement during NBC’s upfront presentation. As should be expected, besides highlights from the four decades of SNL, the special will feature a slew of alumni stopping by.

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‘SNL’ & Barbara Walters Mark Her Retirement

By | Sunday May 11, 2014 @ 5:50am PDT

On the eve of retirement, longtime TV journo Barbara Walters popped up on Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update to poke back at years of SNL jabs in the episode hosted by Charlize Theron:

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‘Saturday Night Live’ Ties Season Lows With Host Andrew Garfield

By | Sunday May 4, 2014 @ 9:12am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

garfieldstoneEven a superhero couldn’t shake off Saturday Night Live‘s ratings doldrums from the past couple of months, following the departure of Seth Meyers. With Amazing Spider-Man 2 star Andrew Garfield as host, Coldplay as musical guest and Garfield’s co-star/girlfriend Emma Stone as a featured surprise guest, last night’s show averaged a 3.9 in the metered markets households and a 2.0 among adults 18-49 in the 25 markets with Local People Meters. That was even in households and down a tenth in 18-49 from SNL‘s last original on April 12 hosted by Seth Rogen and matched SNL‘s season lows in both categories. There are two more episodes left in the season, hosted by Charlize Theron and SNL alum Andy Samberg, after which the veteran sketch program will likely undergo some tuning up for next season.

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SNL: Andrew Garfield Riffs On ‘Spider-Man’ And Justin Timberlake

Saturday Night Live‘s writers returned to familiar turf for last night’s routines featuring guest host Andrew Garfield. His co-star in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Emma Stone, joined for an opportunity to goof on the movie without parodying it. There was an extended one-joke filmed routine involving singer Beyonce. The monologue had Stone make a faux surprise cameo. And no SNL would be complete without a game show that gives the ensemble opportunities to impersonate pop culture icons, in this case with Garfield mimicking Justin Timberlake.  Here you go:
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‘The Daily Show’ Adds Michael Che As New Correspondent

By | Monday April 28, 2014 @ 9:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Michael Che Daily ShowFast-rising New York comedian Michael Che is joining Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart as a new correspondent. Che is currently a staff writer on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which he joined full-time in September after a guest-writing stint last season. He will join The Daily Show in June, after wrapping SNL. This is a rare talent move from SNL to another late-night show as up-and-comers who get their break at the venerable NBC series tend to stay there for a long time. Che made his late-night debut in 2012 on CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman and became the first stand-up comedian to perform on NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers after the SNL alum took the helm of the show. At Comedy Central, Che has appeared on @midnight and John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show and recently taped his first stand-up special, which is scheduled to air June 6. Here is a glimpse at what Che could do on The Daily Show with a bit he did for MTV as well as a sample of his stand-up.

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Andy Samberg Makes ‘SNL’ Hosting Debut For Season Finale As Part Of NBC Late Night Show’s Symphonic Slate

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 11:02am PDT

snl18NBC’s Saturday Night Live will explode in a Comcast symphony of cross-promotion for its final original episodes of the TV season. SNL alum Andy Samberg will make his hosting debut for the season finale May 17 — Samberg stars in/produces Universal TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine for Fox network (Universal and NBC both being divisions of Comcast). Charlize Theron, one of the stars of Universal-distributed Seth MacFarlane movie A Million Ways To Die In The West — will take her second swing as SNL host May 10. The network also made official that Andrew Garfield will make his SNL hosting debut May 3 as his The Amazing Spider-Man 2 premieres nationwide May 2 — Spider-Man being a big attraction at Universal theme parks. Read More »

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NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ 40th Anniversary Special Set

By | Friday April 18, 2014 @ 11:25am PDT

snl18NBC set a date for its three-hour bash — February 15, 2015 — but did not say which past and present cast members, musical guests, etc. would appear. NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said the “special is just one of many ways we plan to celebrate ‘SNL’s historic 40th season next year.” Today’s announcement: Read More »

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‘Saturday Night Live’ Ratings Slip With Seth Rogen As Host

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 9:50am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

sethrogensnlLast night’s Saturday Night Live with host Seth Rogen and musical guest Ed Sheeran averaged a 3.9 household rating in the metered markets and a 2.1 in adults 18-49 in the markets with Local People Meters. That was down a tenth in each category from last week’s show, hosted by Anna Kendrick with musical guest Pharrell Williams. In households, it matched SNL‘s season low. In 18-49, it tied the second lowest result of the season.

Related: ‘SNL’: Guest Host Seth Rogen Ribs James Franco About Underage Girl Incident

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‘Saturday Night Live’ On Par With Anna Kendrick As Host

By | Sunday April 6, 2014 @ 9:33am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

snl_kendrick_littlemermaidBoth Anna Kendrick and last week’s Louis C.K. have received solid marks for their hosting, but Saturday Night Live‘s streak of suppressed ratings, which started with the Lena Dunham episode, continues. Last night’s episode, with host Kendrick and musical guest Pharrell, drew a 4.0 household rating in the metered markets and a 2.2 in adults 18-49 in the markets with Local People Meters. That was even in households with last week’s show hosted by Louis C.K. (4.0), matching the second lowest result of the season, and up a tenth in 18-49. The Lena Dunham episode averaged a 4.1 and 2.1.

Related: ‘SNL’: ‘Fox And Friends’, ‘Les Jeunes de Paris’, And George R.R. Martin (Video)

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‘SNL’: ‘Fox And Friends’, ‘Les Jeunes de Paris’, And George R.R. Martin (Video)

By | Sunday April 6, 2014 @ 4:21am PDT

Anna Kendrick was last night’s guest host in an episode that, per usual, was largely devoted to mocking pop culture. Here are the latest of SNL‘s recurring send ups of Fox And Friends — this time discussing climate change with Cosmos host Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Keenan Thompson) and Obamacare — its Les Jeunes de Paris fantasy dance, and a Weekend Update interview with Bobby Moynihan as Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin discussing the new season of Game of Thrones. (Two of Kendrick’s most memorable skits, the opening and Little Mermaid, are not available due to music rights.)
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‘Saturday Night Live’ Ratings Stay Low With Louis C.K. As Host

By | Sunday March 30, 2014 @ 9:34am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

snl-louisWith 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.

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