Day: December 3, 2010

Appreciating Will Forte, SNL’s missing ingredient

When people say that something isn't quite right about this season of Saturday Night Live, whether or not they know it, they're saying that they miss Will Forte. While it's true that Forte was far from the only member of the cast and writing staff to leave SNL over the summer, his departure left a void that the show has yet to fill several episodes into its 36th season. Sure, the thing you remember most about 2008 was how SNL capitalized upon and influenced the presidential campaign and election — thanks to Tina Fey's Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton — and the statistics will show that from 2008-2010, Kristen Wiig has become the breakout star of the show both in terms of screen time and recurring memorable characters. But in his last few years on SNL, Forte provided a necessary counterbalance to almost every live episode by bringing that one element that SNL always has needed: the wildcard. Forte may not have been a "wild and crazy" guy, as his SNL predecessors literally were, or in the case of the previous big SNL Will F. as in Ferrell, figuratively. Forte was more the "weird and crazy" type. The guy whom you could count on to prove why late-night TV is different from primetime TV. The guy who brought a sense of danger, although based in just enough...

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Norway’s all-star singalong lip-sync of “Let it Be” defies description (especially with its descriptions)!

This is today's video of the day, although, really if you were to describe 2010 to people of another era, this cover of the Beatles classic "Let it Be" might just do the trick. It promotes the Norwegian entertainment program, Golden Times (Gylne Tider). We open on the beach with Roger Moore, our James Bond of the 1980s, in his own voice. From there, play these fun games: Who is singing and who is lip-syncing? Who has the best subtitle description identifying himself or herself? Who really doesn't belong here? There are athletes, actors, singers, non-singers and more. Too many crazy ideas of contemporary celebrity, all gathered in one place. I don't want to list the full cast, because part of the fun is seeing who showed up for this thing. Oh, hello, Kathleen Turner. Roll it!...

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Exit interview: Charlie Rose grilled NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker about Leno and Conan one last time

Jeff Zucker sat back down at the table with Charlie Rose last night for his "exit interview" as CEO of NBC Universal. Rose grilled him for much of the 40 minutes (link to video here), asking him again and again about how he failed with NBC Entertainment, and even though Zucker has described his decisions about Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien with Zucker before, they went through it all again. Why??? That's not me asking. That was Rose. There's some initial discussion about the transition for Comcast to take over NBC Universal and the future of media, Zucker's start in news as a producer on Today, and then after some talk about the difference between being a news guy vs. an entertainment guy — and whether New York City and Hollywood are on the same page, Rose gets back to Jay vs. Conan. From the transcript: CHARLIE ROSE: Here is what is interesting about Bill Carter‚Äôs book, though, is that you had, speaking of gut, you had a feeling that it was not going to work at 11:30 for Conan according to Bill Carter and reflected that. And when you saw it on the air, it confirmed your feeling. And when you saw the bookings, it doubled your anxiety. JEFF ZUCKER: Look, look. CHARLIE ROSE: Look, what, is this what -- JEFF ZUCKER: You know, I think, I think...

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Update from up north: Canadian sketch group Picnicface gets series on The Comedy Network

Congrats to my friends of The Comic's Comic in Canadian sketch group Picnicface for receiving a 13-episode order this week from The Comedy Network. Here is the statement on the group's site: We expect to begin filming this spring in Halifax. A huge thanks to all our fans for their support, we couldn't have done this without you. And although we're excited for the chance to reach a television audience, this definitely won't be the end of our online presence. THR is reporting that their sketch series will have Mark McKinney of Kids in the Hall as their executive producer and showrunner. Picnicface is based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Nice work,...

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White House speechwriter wins 2010 D.C.’s “Funniest Celebrity” contest

President Barack Obama may be delivering a speech at this very moment to the troops in Afghanistan, but last night, one of his speechwriters was delivering jokes and winning Washington, D.C.'s annual "Funniest Celebrity" contest at the D.C. Improv. Jon Lovett took the prize by impersonating Arianna Huffington for an impromptu Q&A with the audience, and making quips at the expense of Sarah Palin, Grover Norquist and the TSA. Related fun fact: Lovett has worked with head White House speechwriter Jon Favreau on each of Obama's humorous remarks for the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Here is Lovett's full set, provided by Politico.   Congressman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) finished runner-up, while Norquist took third place. Related: Politico also has links to previous D.C.'s funniest celebrity performances, if you can stomach it. Also, they have a funny definition of "celebrity" in...

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