SNL alums might actually be taking over television.
It used to be that a position on Saturday Night Live would launch you to film—that’s how it worked from Bill Murray to Will Ferrell…but things are beginning to take a different turn. Television is growing as a medium, broadening its artistic spectrum and attracting creative forces. As such, a lot of the comedic geniuses of the SNL stage are finding powerful projects on the small screen, such as the kingpin of “nice guy” deadpan, Will Forte.
It was announced March 9 that Forte, who immortalized the character of MacGruber, will be starring in a new television series: Rebounding, a single-camera comedy on the Fox network about a man whose pickup basketball games serve to help him through the death of his fiancée. The series comes from Steven Levitan, creator of Modern Family and Just Shoot Me!.
Forte is among many former (and some current) SNL stars who are, or will soon be, starring on original series on TV:
Tina Fey is likely the first example that comes to mind. Fey not only stars in but created 30 Rock: the sitcom created as a means to chronicle her experiences as the head writer on SNL, whose sixth season is airing on NBC. One of NBC’s most celebrated comedies running is Parks and Recreation, starring the unstoppable Amy Poehler as the even less stoppable Leslie Knope, head of the Parks Department in Pawnee, Indiana, and candidate for city council.
A third NBC entry is Up All Night, which features Maya Rudolph as the vapid but good-hearted Ava, a talk show host and best friend to central characters and new parents, Reagan (Christina Applegate) and Chris (Will Arnett). And finally, the network offers Late Night viewers a host in Jimmy Fallon, who, although still honing his skills as an interviewer, has brought his knack for impressions and sketch comedy to the show.
In development, also for NBC, is a new comedy for Sarah Silverman who was famously fired from the sketch show by fax. The new series is produced by Ron Howard and explores the life of a newly-single woman just getting out of a decade-long romantic relationship (the show is based on Silverman’s real life experiences dating and breaking up with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel).
Leaving the SNL home network, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose stint on the variety show helped launch her Seinfeld career, will be starring in a new HBO comedy series titled Veep. On the show, Louis-Dreyfus will play the harried vice president to an incapacitated presidential figure (mirroring the oft deliberated “what if”s of the McCain/Palin presidency). Veep will premiere Sunday, Apr. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Finally, current cast member Fred Armisen acts as co-creator and co-star on IFC’s sketch comedy series Portlandia, which serves as a clever send-up of contemporary “hipster” culture.