Looks like they won't be "live from New York" any longer. After a difficult, uneven season that saw an influx of new cast members, controversy and the loss of Head Writer and "Weekend Update" host Seth Meyers halfway through the year, Saturday Night Live is by cutting down its slate of featured players down to a more manageable size. Brooks Wheelan announced that he would be leaving Tuesday morning on Twitter (via a joke, natch). Later in the day, it was announced that Noël Wells and John Milhiser also wouldn't return after they failed to make an impression with audiences this year. Those announcements come about a month after Nasim Pedrad, one of the current longest-running cast members, would be leaving to work on Mulaney.
But just because they won't be on SNL any longer, that doesn't mean that it's the last we'll ever see of Wheelan, Wells, Milhiser and Pedrad. There are plenty of people who only lasted a couple of seasons on the show and then went on to become major stars: Sarah Silverman, Damon Wayans, Rob Riggle, and Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., to name just a few. With that in mind, we decided to take a look back at their tenure on SNL in order to best predict what's next for Wheelan, Wells, Milhiser and Pedrad. Although if any one of them is going to wind up playing a superhero, our money's on Heshy.
Brooks Wheelan What’s Next: Wheelan doesn’t have a lot lined up at the moment, though he does have a short film titled Lose Yourself, Save Yourself, where he plays Fighter 2. His Strengths: Possibly because he comes from a standup background rather than a sketch one, Wheelan didn’t create very many memorable characters, and his most significant moments on the show were his two appearances as himself on “Weekend Update,” where he would warn audiences against the dangers of getting terrible tattoos and binge drinking. Where We See Him: Wheelan seems to embody the same kind of “goofy, wisecracking All-American” guy that actors like Jake Johnson or fellow SNL alum Jason Sudeikis trade on. We could easily see him bringing some of the energy to a sitcom where he plays the sarcastic straight guy to a group of off-the-wall characters. Still, his weirdly funny exterminator bit with Ed Norton proves he’s capable of some truly strange characters, and so we could see him playing smaller, supporting roles in films for a while as a variety of strange, obnoxious characters. And of course, there’s always his stand up career to fall back on…
Noël Wells What’s Next: Wells has the TV series Gentleman Lobsters, which is slated for a 2014 premiere. She’s also a photographer in her spare time, and her work has been showcased in exhibitions and been printed in magazines. Her Strengths: Though they were slightly hit and miss – her Nancy Grace was four minutes of eye twitches and catchphrases – Wells made the biggest impact on the show through her impressions, most notably, playing Lena Dunham in the season premiere’s parody of Girls. Where We See Her: Though her talent with impressions and slightly offbeat characters would serve her well on another sketch show, something along the lines of Inside Amy Schumer or Key and Peele, Wells most reminds us of two other early SNL departures: Jenny Slate and Casey Wilson. Like them, Wells has a quirky charm to her that would serve her well in indie films (she actually earned solid reviews for her work in last year’s Forev) and in an ensemble sitcom, where she would be free to play up her weirder side.
John Milhiser What’s Next: Like Wheelan, Milhiser has a short film on his slate, Little Horribles, and he also starred in the indie film Camp Takota, which is available online. His Strengths: Milhiser didn’t get much of a chance to make an impression on audiences, although eh did show off a pitch-perfect Jon Cryer impression during a Family Feud sketch. He did, however, have one highlight during his tenure, a sketch where he and Lady Gaga played “encouraging” stage parents helping their child through a talent show performance, which let him show off his goofier side, and his ability to execute a high kick. Where We See Him: Milhiser strikes us as a Ben Falcone or Nat Faxon-type, someone who pops up in different things all the time, playing characters with varying levels of insanity and oddity. He’s definitely shown that he can play both weird and silly characters, but since he didn’t make that much of an impression, he’ll probably be “that guy from that thing” for a while, until he manages to find the right project to help him break out.
Nasim Pedrad What’s Next: After five years on SNL, Pedrad is leaving in order to play Jane, the roommate of John Mulaney’s character on the FOX sitcom Mulaney. Her Strengths: During her time on the show, Pedrad played a wide variety of characters, including Kim Kardashian, Arianna Huffington, Bedelia, the awkward teenager whose best friend is her mother and Shallon, the world’s most dangerous fifth grader. Though she never made the kind of impression that Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon have, she’s become a vital part of the ensemble over the past five years, thanks to her ability to inhabit both the sanest and the oddest human beings. Where We See Her: Hopefully, her role on Mulaney will be exactly what she needs to properly break out, since she never quite managed to on SNL. From there, we could see her following a similar career path to Wiig or Tina Fey, playing both broad comedy and more serious roles in both television in movies. Alternatively, she could become more of a Michaela Watkins/Ana Gasteyer- type, and becoming the go-to actress for slightly odd, scene-stealing characters.
Country superstar Garth Brooks is planning to return to the charts this winter (14) with his first album of new material in 13 years. The Friends In Low Places hitmaker retired from recording and touring in 2001 to raise his family, but in a press conference on Thursday (10Jul14), he announced he will be making a big comeback thanks to a new deal with Sony Music.
He said, "The new record, I think, is what we would traditionally think of as a double album, just because there's a lot to say."
The singer is hoping to release the first single "sometime in the next two months" and is eyeing a late November (14) date for the follow-up to 2001's Scarecrow. His first ever world tour will then follow.
Brooks also revealed that for the first time, he will be going digital.
However, his music will not be heading to popular services like Apple's iTunes, because he refuses to let individual songs be purchased; instead, his full catalogue will be available as a package from his own official website and he claims it will be very affordable: "(Some people) might think I'm giving it away, but I'm not. (It'll be) at a stupid price."
During the press conference, Brooks also touched on the controversy surrounding his cancelled run of gigs in Dublin, Ireland, which had been due to take place later this month (Jul14). The shows were scrapped on Tuesday (08Jul14) after local council officials refused to grant permits for two additional dates that had been added to the original three-night stint at Croke Park.
He added, "The people of Ireland are the most loving people on the planet. However, the system needs to look at itself... Don't sell a show to people and get their hopes up and then cancel it. It just isn't fair...
"If the prime minister himself wants to speak to me, I will crawl, swim, and even fly over."
Irish parliamentary officials are currently attempting to work with Dublin council bosses and the gig promoters to salvage the mini-residency, Brooks' first shows in Ireland in 17 years.
Irish parliamentary officials have waded into the abrupt cancellation of Garth Brooks' five sold-out shows at Dublin's Croke Park in a bid to settle the highly-publicised permit dispute. The Friends in Low Places hitmaker pulled out of the concerts, which were due to take place at the end of this month (Jul14), on Tuesday (08Jul14) after Dublin City Council members rejected promoters' application to extend the original three-night run to five.
They had decided that three performances at Croke Park, a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)-owned venue in a residential area, would cause enough disruption for local neighbours and businesses, but Brooks insisted he would play all five or none at all.
The head of the Dublin City Council, Owen Keegan, refused to bow to the pressure and as a result, the string of gigs were axed.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny even stepped in to set up mediation talks between Keegan and the Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke on Thursday (10Jul14) in a bid to salvage the mini-residency and put a stop to the negative press, but the meeting was cancelled for unknown reasons, reports the BBC.
Now council officials, GAA venue executives and concert organisers at Aiken Promotions are due to appear at a parliamentary hearing to establish how the Brooks comeback run had turned into such a debacle and find any possible solution.
Local politician and council member John O'Mahony says, "Everything that can be done will be done by the government in the next few days."
Brooks has also vowed not to give up his fight and has promised Aiken Promotions chief Peter Aiken he will "go to the last second".
In a letter addressed to Aiken, the singer writes: "I cannot begin to tell you how badly my heart is breaking right now (over the axed shows).
"If there is any chance that the five planned concerts can be salvaged... then we can proceed as planned until the refunds begin... If you think for any reason that the 'powers that be' in Ireland can fix this, then I will faithfully go to the last second."
The shows had been billed as Brooks' Irish comeback after a 17-year absence.
Irish singer Shane Filan is "devastated" after losing out on the chance to share a stage with Garth Brooks following the cancellation of the country superstar's Dublin concerts. The Friends in Low Places hitmaker announced earlier this year (14) that he would kick off a comeback tour at Croke Park in the Irish capital with three shows, slated to take place at the the end of July (14).
Fans rushed to buy tickets, and promoters added two more dates, but officials at Dublin City Council refused to grant the extra permits following a backlash from local residents.
Brooks insisted he would perform all five concerts or none at all, and after failing to come to an agreement with authorities, organisers Aiken Promotions pulled the plug on the shows on Tuesday (08Jul14).
The decision has angered 400,000 ticket holders who are now awaiting refunds, as well as former Westlife star Filan, who was set to open for Brooks.
Filan writes in a post on his official Facebook.com page, "I am so devastated that Garth Brooks has had to cancel his shows in Ireland. I am a huge fan and couldn't wait to see him perform. It was a dream come true when I was asked to support him. Its (sic) a sad day for everyone in Ireland who had been looking forward to these concerts for so long."
Five historic Garth Brooks concerts at Ireland's Croke Park have been cancelled following a dispute with local council authorities. The Friends in Low Places hitmaker was originally scheduled to play three shows from 25 to 27 July (14), but added two more shows on 28 and 29 July (14) due to popular demand.
All five dates sold out within minutes, but promoters' plans were thrown into jeopardy last week (ends04Jul14) when Dublin City Council officials refused to grant them permits for the two additional concerts.
Brooks responded to the action by threatening to cancel all of the performances, insisting he plays all five gigs or none at all, but authorities refused to bow to the pressure and on Tuesday (08Jul14), concert organisers at Aiken Promotions announced the shows were off.
They revealed they had "exhausted all avenues" in trying to coordinate the shows, but it was with "great regret" that Brooks' performances would no longer be taking place.
The Croke Park shows would have marked Brooks' first performances in Dublin since 1997.
British actress Billie Piper will star in a new London play inspired by the U.K. phone-hacking scandal. The satirical drama, titled Great Britain, focuses on the country's press and politics, drawing inspiration from high-profile stories such as the furore over now-defunct tabloid the News of The World, as well as a public battle over politicians' expenses and the disappearance of British youngster Madeleine McCann in 2007.
Piper plays Paige Britain, a young news editor at a tabloid struggling to increase readership.
However, the play's director, Sir Nicholas Hytner, is adamant the character is not based on Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of British newspapers The Sun and the News of the World, who was sensationally cleared of all charges relating to the phone-hacking scandal in court in London on Tuesday (24Jun14).
He says, "She (the character) is not an editor. She is not based on Rebekah Brooks. There is no character in this play that is identifiable as any living protagonist... As satire always is, it is an exaggeration and grotesque distortion of current events. But I hope it throws a critical light on current events through a fictional treatment of them."
Hytner chose to wait until the phone hacking trial was over before announcing the play, which will open on Monday (30Jun14) at the National Theatre's Lyttelton venue. It will run until 23 August (14).
Brooks walked free from court in London on Tuesday following the lengthy trial. Another former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, was found guilty on a charge of conspiracy to intercept communications.
The jury was unable to reach a majority verdict on two further charges against Coulson on Wednesday (25Jun14) and was discharged.
Publishing tycoon Rupert Murdoch is wanted for questioning by British police as part of an inquiry into alleged criminal activity at his newspapers. The news comes after Murdoch's former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was found guilty on a charge of conspiracy to intercept communications at the Old Bailey in London on Tuesday (24Jun14).
Rebekah Brooks, the ex-News International chief executive and former editor of Murdoch's British newspapers The Sun and the News of the World, was cleared of all charges relating to the sensational phone-hacking trial.
According to reports, Murdoch was contacted by officers at Scotland Yard last year (13) but they agreed to his lawyer's request to wait until the trial was over to quiz the media mogul.
He is expected to be questioned "under caution" as part of their probe into alleged criminal activities at his British newspapers, and his son James, who was executive chairman of News International in the U.K., may also be interviewed.
In 2011, Murdoch and his son attended a British Parliament inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal, during which the tycoon was attacked by an interloper wielding a cream pie.
Stars including Hugh Grant, Jude Law, Sienna Miller and Steve Coogan were among the high-profile victims of the News of the World's hacking scandal. The publication was closed by Murdoch in 2011.
A jury is still deliberating further charges against Coulson, who denies allegations of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.
Soul stars Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole are all set to grace the Broadway stage as guest performers this summer (14) in Tony Award-nominated show After Midnight. The musical, which celebrates jazz icon Duke Ellington's years at Harlem, New York's famous Cotton Club, has already featured the likes of k.d. lang, Toni Braxton and Vanessa Williams as guest vocalists, and now another trio of music veterans will be delighting audiences at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
LaBelle, who first saw the show in January (14), will take over from singer Fantasia Barrino from 10 to 29 June (14), while Knight will pick up the mic from 8 July to 3 August, and Cole will appear from 5 to 31 August (14).
After Midnight has proved to be a big hit with fans and critics alike - it scored seven Tony nominations, including a nod for Best Musical, when the shortlist was announced on Tuesday (29Apr14).
The final scene of the fifth season of Justified ended as it began: at night, with a Crowder on the Harlan County bridge that has played home to so many illicit activities. This time, it was Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), and she was there for an task that surely ate at her soul — being a CI for Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant). It was Givens who was able to pull her out of her predicament at the penitentiary and he wanted her to show her gratitude by gathering information to help the Marshal's Office put away Boyd for at least the next 50 years.
With that sequence of events, the show left us no room for error for what will transpire in the final season. Boyd, who has already had a number of bad guys out gunning for him, is going to be feeling the squeeze of the law. And that group will be led by Givens, who used to work in the mines with Boyd a lifetime ago, before the two went on very, very divergent paths. This would likely put an end to the occasional alliance that exists between the two and will probably have Boyd reconsidering his decision in the second season to save Raylan from being whacked open like a pinata by Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies).
If they are smart (and Graham Yost and his crew have proven themselves to be near Mensa-level geniuses at crafting some of the most compelling television out there), the showrunners will spend the final season of Justified back in the hands of the Core 3: Givens, Ava and Boyd — the meat of the show from its early days.
There have overarching villains in nearly every season of Justified but the first. The only villain needed for this final go-'round is Boyd. That way, the focus can be on those central characters, relegating some other favorites to satellite roles (like Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson), the likes of Wynn Duffy and Katherine Hale to occasional components of the story, and the newly retired Art Mullen to a cameo appearance or two.
We might even go so far as to predict (or hope) that the final scene of the show somehow emulates the last moments of the pilot, with Raylan shooting Boyd, but this time, with no reprieve. (For those who don't know, Boyd was supposed to die in that pilot, like he did in the short story "Fire In The Hole." However, Walton Goggins blew everyone away with his performance and was granted a starring part.) However the series ends, it needs to come right down to the relationship that made the program so compelling in the first place. This is a show about Raylan and his toxic roots, and nobody better exemplifies those roots than Boyd.
In a big change of pace, Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) didn't have to kill any major bad guys this season on Justified. The villains still met their end as the heroin business took its toll before sales even started. And like always, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) somehow survived it all.
Season 5 of Justified leaned heavily on the dysfunction of the Crowe family. The arrival of Daryl Crowe (Michael Rapaport) and his crew caused a lot of headaches for Raylan. Daryl even joined forces with Boyd to smuggle heroin from Mexico. The newest Justified villain proved that he can't be trusted as he turned on Boyd, which made the Mexican cartel that provided the drugs angry, and worst of all, convinced nephew Kendal Crowe (Jacob Lofland) to confess to shooting Chief Deputy Art Mullen (Nick Searcy). Daryl was the man holding the smoking gun, but he'll let Kendal — a minor — rot in lockup, even if it meant he gets tried as an adult. Even for a bad guy, Daryl is a world-class lowlife.
Justified is never short on antagonists. Many criminals are up to no good, but this season underutilized some baddies. In the beginning of the season, Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) and Boyd teamed up to move heroin. It appeared that Mr. Duffy would play a big part in the criminal underworld, but then he stayed in hiding where it was safe. He probably didn't want to get tortured by the Mexican cartel, fuming because of all the trouble Boyd and Daryl caused getting the product across the border.
Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) spent the entire season locked up for trying to dispose of a dead body in season four. Although she was no use to the outside world, her prison adventures were an interesting side story this season. However, the presence of the cartel was completely wasted. Yes, the three members played a prominent role in the finale, but they could have evolved to be the main antagonists. And only three members? Certainly they could have brought more backup. If there had been more members, Boyd wouldn’t have outsmarted them by luring Marshals Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) and Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) to Ava's house. The cartel members all died on the front porch after a shootout.
Raylan Never Got His Hands Dirty
Rough outlaws such as the Crowes usually meet their maker after Raylan pulls the trigger. Not so this season. Danny Crowe (A.J. Buckley) actually faced off against Raylan, but accidentally killed himself when he misstepped and pierced his neck with his own knife. The big showdown between Raylan and Darryl never materialized as Wendy Crowe (Alicia Witt) shot her own brother. Raylan wasn't even there to take down the cartel members. Kind of anti-climactic.
Boyd’s Big Brain and Big File
Finally, Boyd will be brought to justice. Or killed. Next season, Justified hits the home stretch. In the final season, we know the marshals plan to nab Boyd for his crimes. Miraculously, Boyd's intellect has saved him from death numerous times, most notably in wiggling his way out of the cartel's grasp. But the case against Boyd, represented by a thick file full of paperwork, is strong. Murder, drugs, prostitution, and other crimes will stick when Raylan and the other marshals pin all their evidence on Boyd. Anything less than a shootout or standoff with Raylan will be a disappointment.