Yes, we all know that Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson know how to kick some serious ass in the Panem arena, but that's just child's play. The toughest arena out there is the infamous Saturday Night Live stage in Studio 8H. Many go in, but only few come out with their heads held high.
Competitors come from far and wide to wield their comedy swords against the fierce beast that is Lorne Michaels, eager to prove that they have what it takes to be both an esteemed performer and a relatable human being. Hunger Games stars such as Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, and Lenny Kravitz have taken to the stage before, and soon their fellow dystopia resident Hutcherson is set to master comedy on a chilly Saturday night. While all of our Hunger Games actors might claim to have a funny bone or two, only one can come out victorious. So who will it be?
Jennifer LawrenceSome might jump the gun and announce J-Law the victor without a second thought, but unfortunately, her natural good humor might just be tricking us into believing that she is the funniest of them all. Lawrence has what it takes to tackle the media and film, but her performance on SNL in January 2013 proved that nerves can get the best of all of us. After handling her monologue with questionable capability, Lawrence exhibited a handful of sketches that were surprisingly awkward. However, she delivered her sketch dressed up as dog quite well. Lawrence is one of those actors who doesn't care if she looks silly (or so we're lead to believe), so her confidence adds 10 points to whatever she's doing.
Woody HarrelsonDon't let the resident Hunger Games sourpuss fool you — Harrelson knows how to make a crowd laugh. Not only did he host in 1989 before either Lawrence or Hutcherson were born, but he took the stage by storm once again in 1992. During his first stint, his monologue consisted of a song mostly inspired from reading a thesaurus, and in 1992 he showed that he wasn't afraid to show some skin when he whipped off his shirt in a sketch aptly titled, "Take off Your Shirt." Not to mention that he was aided by the comedy gold that is Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, and Nora Dunn.
Lenny KravitzKravitz is definitely the wildcard in the pack. The singer and actor has never hosted the late-night variety show, but he has been the musical guest twice and has cameoed in sketches. Additionally, he showed his comedy skills when he played a considerable part in Jimmy Kimmel's "Handsome Men's Club" sketch on his talk show. However, until we're able to see Kravitz take on the role of host, we're not sure that he would be able to beat out the other tributes.
Julianne MooreMoore entered the battlefield in 1998 and proved that she can hold her own up against the likes of Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, Cheri Oteri, and Darrell Hammond. Moore made her mark in "The Ladies' Man" sketch where she appeared in a sultry red dress in a bed alongside Meadows, and in the famous Gasteyer and Shannon sketch "The Delicious Dish" where she skillfully bantered on the radio as a brainwashed cult member. (Not to mention that she was paired up with musical guest Backstreet Boys, who were at their prime in the late '90s. Anyone that's deemed good enough for Backstreet Boys in 1998 must be doing something right.)
Josh HutchersonThis tribute is certainly the newest to the battle (and the youngest), but we have high hopes in his comedy skills. In his promos for SNL, he seemed like a complete natural next seasoned Bobby Moynihan. Moynihan puts him through the "SNL Initiation" to see if he's up for the challenge, and the good news is that he passes all of the tests with flying colors, which makes us think that he'll be quite the competitor.
Winner: Julianne Moore (mostly because we think she has the experience to handle anything), although we can't count out Hutcherson until this weekend when he hosts SNL alongside musical guest HAIM on Nov. 23 on NBC.
During his time on Saturday Night Live, cast member Jason Sudeikis has played everyone from Billy Ray Cyrus to Vice President Joe Biden, but there's something the 36-year-old is no longer playing anymore: coy.
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sudeikis — who has been on the fence about the possibility of returning for the upcoming 38th season of the late night show — more or less made it clear about what he wants in order to come back. (The Indecisive Exiter is an SNL sketch waiting to happen, no?)
"I'd like the opportunity to use creative muscles that... haven't been asked of me for the first nine years that I've worked there," Sudeikis said. "It could be some sort of title change. The least of the concerns is anything financial. I'm not buying a boat because of writing skits. It's more having a desire to give more to a place I really believe in."
Sudeikis, who played Presidential candidate Mitt Romney all last season ("My Mitt is a little square, a little boring, a little disconnected from the human experience," the star said of his interpretation of the Republican candidate) added, "To stay just for the juice of being in the public eye — of being Mitt Romney — is not enough."
Since Sudeikis is already a featured player, the only "title change" Sudeikis could possibly be referring to is head writer, a position still filled by Seth Meyers. (Meyers is currently tied with Al Franken for the second longest-running cast member on the show, behind Darrell Hammond.)
But why now? Sudeikis, who has more or less faded to the background over the past few seasons (though, funnily enough, his best contribution is doing nothing more than being in the background during in the surreal "What Up With That?" sketch), has an opportunity to follow suit with his fellow departed cast members Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg and leave when the time is right. With cast members like Taran Killam and the Emmy-nominated Bill Hader positioned as the show's new power players, Sudeikis (who hasn't had his own sketch take off since his "Two A-Holes" bit with Wiig) would likely wind up in the background again.
The actor, who has had a rather successful run in mainstream comedies like Going the Distance, Horrible Bosses, and this weekend's The Campaign, could very well be concerned that he's being pigeonholed as the straight man (he'll do it again opposite Jennifer Aniston in the upcoming We're The Millers) on the big screen, but it's hard to imagine that he'll feel less creatively stifled going through the necessary motions on SNL. For Sudeikis not to want to play Romney during an election year seems like a possibly huge missed opportunity, considering how much that type of thing can elevate a career to new heights. (See: Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.)
While the star has repeatedly said in interviews that he has a hard time with goodbyes (something quite apparent when he all but disappeared during Wiig's tearful farewell back in May) playing this apparent hardball with Lorne Michaels and the rest of SNL cast and crew might not make for the most welcome welcome back. If Sudeikis feels like he has an arsenal of comedy gold up his sleeve, perhaps instead of coming back to SNL, he should pen his own show or script (a move that proved incredibly well for Wiig with Bridesmaids) and re-write the course of his career. That might just give Sudeikis the last laugh he seems to be looking for.
[Photo credit: Dana Edelson/NBC]
Jason Sudeikis Hints at SNL Departure
Andy Samberg: Yes, I'm Leaving SNL
SNL: How Will They Tackle the Election?
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Now that Mitt Romney has shored up his spot as the presumptive GOP nominee, he has to start tackling the really tough questions — such as whether or not he'll appear on Saturday Night Live. In a New York Times column published this weekend, Maureen Dowd reveals, "Lorne Michaels, the show’s executive producer, has offered a guest spot to Romney, who is considering it." While it sounds like the kind of thing that could convince America that the former governor isn't a stuffed shirt, at this point appearing on the show is likely to do more harm than good.
In the past few elections, nearly every presidential candidate has made a guest appearance on SNL. It's become almost mandatory for politicians to appear on the show, since they need to prove that they're still good sports even after being skewered mercilessly for months. Four years ago Sarah Palin made the world think she was laughing along with Tina Fey's wildly popular impersonation, though if you believe Game Change, she actually found it devestating. John McCain also appeared in a sketch in an attempt to show that he was still quick-witted scamp, not a cantankerous old man. Though his sketch with Tina fey was funny, it wasn't enough to sway the election.
One of Romney's biggest problems is his inability to connect with average Americans, and theoretically a great SNL skit should help his cause. Unfortunately for him, his chances of comedy success are extremely thin. When Romney read David Letterman's Top 10 List he turned in a decent performance, for a politician. However, while he read the lines well, his movements were still awkward.
In recent sketches Jason Sudeikis has played Romney as a square, robotic flip-flopper. In order for Romney to counter that image he'd have to be exceedingly smooth and charismatic in his SNL appearance. That's a tall order for any non-performer, and Romney has yet to prove that he can be relaxed and relatable when he's talking to people in a town hall meeting. To actually change people's opinions of him on SNL, Romney would have to do a hilarious and memorable skit, and it seems unlikely that he'd be able to pull off a Rudy Giuliani drag performance.
Though Tina Fey's Palin impersonation demanded a response from the Alaska governor, in the current election SNL has yet to do a sketch that's become culturally relevant. As show insiders explain to Dowd, both Romney and President Obama lack "handles," or quirks impersonators can exploit. That's why much like Fred Armisen's Obama, Sudeikis' Romney is amusing, but not devestatingly accurate like Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton.
While SNL writers are tearing their hair out at the prospect of an election without any wild characters like Newt Gingrich or Michelle Bachmann, that might be great for Romney. However, it's very possible that SNL will sharpen its aim in the next few months. There are rumors that Sudeikis is leaving the show at the end of the season, and that would give another performer an opportunity to step in with a more biting Romney parody. In the fall, Romney may be pressured into guest starring on the show, whether he's ready for prime time or not.
[Huffington Post, NYT]
Who Can Replace Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, & Jason Sudeikis on 'SNL'?
Is 'SNL' Facing a Funny Lady Shortage?
Paula Deen Tries To Butter Up 'Saturday Night Live' For A Visit
Late-night comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live will debut on Sept. 30 without five key castmembers.
In addition to the previously announced departures of Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch, who are working on the prime time comedy 30 Rock, eight-year veterans Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz have been sacked, as well as Finesse Mitchell.
The cast for the upcoming season will be made up of Fred Armisen, Will Forte, Bill Hader, Darrell Hammond, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, Kenan Thompson and Kristen Wiig.
The show will begin its 32nd season with just 11 regular players--down nearly one-third from last year's cast of 16 and one of the smallest ensembles in recent memory.
Rumors swirled in the media about who might be leaving the show after creator Lorne Michaels told reporters that budget cuts had forced him to make tough choices about the upcoming season.
Comedian Dane Cook will host the first show in the new season with The Killers appearing as guests.
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The Simpson blame game: It was acid reflux
Rather than fading away quietly, Ashlee Simpson's lip-synching debacle on Saturday Night Live is gaining momentum, thanks in part to the plethora of excuses the pop sibling's given about her not-so-live performance. First she claimed it was the band's blunder. Then it was NBC's mix-up. Now, Simpson's manager father is blaming the 19-year-old singer's SNL snafu on ... gas? According to Joe Simpson, it was his decision to use the tapes after acid reflux disease had swollen Ashlee's vocal chords and made her voice hoarse. "Just like any artist in America, she has a backing track that she pushes so you don't have to hear her croak through a song on national television. No one wants to hear that," Joe Simpson told Ryan Seacrest Monday on Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM. He also insisted she's never used the extra help onstage before. "Every artist that I know in this business has had vocal problems at some time--from Celine on down," he added. Simpson had performed her hit single "Pieces of Me" without incident earlier on SNL, but when she came back for her second performance, her band started playing and the first lines of her singing "Pieces of Me" could be heard again. The band plowed ahead with the song while a visibly confused Simpson made some clownish dance moves before walking off the stage. SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels told The Associated Press the incident wasn't a big deal. "She was mortified and in her dressing room, but (producer) Marci (Klein) got her to come out for goodnights and explained that it wasn't the end of the world. It wasn't her fault," he said. "If she were a more seasoned performer then I think that she would've taken charge and said, 'No, let's start this over again.'"
SNL creator Lorne Michaels honored
Lip-synching debacles aside, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels was awarded the 2004 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Reuters reports. Guests included Not Ready for Prime Time stars Steve Martin, Tim Meadows, Darrell Hammond, Chevy Chase, Molly Shannon, Dan Aykroyd and Tina Fey. Also present were singer Paul Simon, actress Candice Bergen, talk show host Conan O'Brien and U.S. Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). Guests praised and occasionally embarrassed the 59-year-old Canadian-born Michaels, who described SNL as "always being stuck in adolescence." The ceremony will air on PBS early next year.
Feverish Lohan hospitalized
Lindsay Lohan has been hospitalized in Los Angeles for treatment of a high fever, a spokeswoman for the teen actress told Reuters Monday. "She's undergoing some tests," her publicist Leslie Sloane Zelnik said, adding the actress may be suffering from the flu. "She's doing well and resting." The Mean Girls star was admitted to the hospital over the weekend after being ill for several days and running a temperature as high as 103 degrees, Zelnik said. The illness has forced Lohan, 18, to miss several days of filming on her upcoming movie, Herbie: Fully Loaded, and a guest spot opposite real-life boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama on the Fox sitcom That '70s Show.
Usher, Linkin Park dominate Radio Music Awards
Usher and Linkin Park dominated the Radio Music Awards Monday night at the Aladdin hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Usher took home Hip-Hop Artist of the Year and Hip-Hop Song of the Year for "Yeah!" while Linkin Park won the Rock Artist of the Year and Alternative Rock Song of the Year for "Numb." The Legend Award was given to Janet Jackson. Performers included Elton John, Chingy, Tim McGraw, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Train and Alanis Morissette. The two-hour event was telecast on NBC. Nominees in each category are based on radio's top-playing songs and are voted on by radio program and music directors nationwide.
Dave Matthews Band donates money
The Dave Matthews Band has donated $50,000 to the Friends of the Chicago River and the Chicago Park District amid an investigation into the dumping of human waste from the group's tour bus into the Chicago River that also doused a tour boat, Rolling Stone.com reports. In August, the city filed suit against the band and its driver, charging them with violating water pollution and public nuisance laws. But the band maintains the driver, whom the group has since suspended, was the only person on the bus. "What happened to the people on the boat is awful and it goes against so many principles we hold dear: environmentalism, accountability, and, mostly, principles of humanity," the band said in a statement. "We will continue to fight for these principles, and seek to live up to the values they represent…we simply want to begin the healing process."
Ovitz set to take stand
Former Mouse House prexy Michael Ovitz will take the stand today in a Georgetown, Del. Court, facing charges by angry Walt Disney Co. shareholders that he cheated them when he left the company with a $140 million severance package, Reuters reports. The suit, filed by Disney shareholders seven years ago against the company's board of directors, claims Disney chief Michael Eisner engineered the deal in 1995 to hire his friend Ovitz, one of Hollywood's most powerful talent agents and co-founder of Creative Artists Agency, as president. But when things didn't work out, Disney's board awarded Ovitz a $140 million severance package rather than firing him--a major faux pas in the eyes of the shareholders. Ovitz is expected to argue that he was entitled to the hefty pay package.
Hamptons honors Most High
The 12th annual Hamptons Film Festival gave its highest honor, the Golden Starfish award, to Marty Sader's drama Most High, about a young man's descent into crystal meth addiction, Variety reports. The audience favorite award went to Vincent Rubino's romantic comedy The Breakup Artist and Leslie Sullivan's A Touch of Greatness was awarded best documentary.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.