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Author: Hillary Busis (1-10 of 1348)

Every 'Simpsons' 'Treehouse of Horror' short, ranked

Update: The list has been amended to include the three segments from “Treehouse of Horror XXV.”

That’s right: In honor of The Simpsons‘ 25th (!) annual Halloween special, EW didn’t just rank the top 25 “Treehouse of Horror” segments. We took things a step further by ranking every single “Treehouse” segment ever seen on the show—and you’ll find entries 72 through 26 in the list below.

Even when longtime fans sniff that The Simpsons‘ Golden Age is long past, they can agree that late-period Simpsons Halloween shows still pack a punch. Why? Because “Treehouse” segments give the series’ writers a break in two ways: First of all, they’re short, which means that they can explore plot threads that are amusing but too flimsy to support an entire half-hour. And secondly, they’re not bound by the laws of canon (or taste), giving the show’s staff an opportunity to follow their wildest whims—transforming Springfield into a town as drawn by Dr. Seuss, or putting a gremlin on the side of Bart’s schoolbus, or transforming Homer’s head into a giant doughnut.

What makes a good “Treehouse” short? Punchy one-liners and visual gags help, but the best of the bunch have two more things in common: Novel premises (which, admittedly, get increasingly difficult as the show ages) and a genuine stab at including a few real scares. (In other words: The recent trend toward parodies of random movies that have little or nothing to do with horror as a broad category just doesn’t do it.) You’ll find what made the cut in the list below, as well as what maybe should have been left on the cutting-room floor.

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Bill Hader hosts 'Saturday Night Live' this week-talk about it here!

Tonight’s episode of SNL will have everything.

Okay, maybe not. But after a shaky start, a visit from a beloved former cast member might be just what season 40 needs to get back on track. And Bill Hader isn’t just one of the show’s best-known recent alumni—he’s among the most skillful, versatile players in SNL history. Some would even call him the show’s best cast member ever; no less an authority than Bill Murray is one of those people. READ FULL STORY

Sarah Silverman hosts 'Saturday Night Live' this week: Talk about it here!

SUNDAY UPDATE: Click over to read Hillary Busis’ full recap of Sarah Silverman’s episode as SNL host.

ORIGINAL POST: The perfect way to wind down after Yom Kippur? By watching an episode of SNL that features two famous Members of the Tribe, of course. (And, you know, the other guys in Maroon 5.)

Count on host Sarah Silverman to bring up her Jewish heritage early and often when she takes the stage for the first time as host tonight. You can also expect her to focus her monologue on two facts: One, that Silverman was a writer and featured player on this very show during the 1993-1994 season, and two, that she had a fairly terrible time on SNL. Silverman barely got any sketches on the air, had to wear an ape mask for 12 hours for a Planet of the Apes sketchstabbed Al Franken in the head with a pencil one time, and reportedly found out that she was being let go from the show via fax. She’s not even mentioned in Live from New York, James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales’ exhaustive oral history of SNL.

However! A lot has changed since 1994. SNL, which was famously dysfunctional and hostile (especially for its female cast members) in the mid-’90s, has become a kinder, gentler, more lady-friendly place. And Silverman, whose SNL run was over in the blink of an eye, has spent the past 20 years becoming one of the world’s most notorious and beloved comedians. From her standup specials to The Sarah Silverman Program to “I’m F–king Matt Damon” (man, remember “I’m F–king Matt Damon”?), Silverman has carved out a niche for herself: She’s outrageous, edgy, and unapologetic, but she says the crazy things she says with the voice of a precocious 10-year-old and the face of the quiet girl in your Hebrew School class. READ FULL STORY

'Law & Order: SVU': Every issue shoehorned into the Jay Z/Solange/Donald Sterling episode

Yep, you read that headline right: There was a lot going on in SVU last night.

Just how much? About as much as was stuffed into 2013’s biggest kitchen-sink episode, “American Tragedy”—a smorgasbord that included takes on Paula Deen, Trayvon Martin, stop-and-frisk, and even “Blurred Lines.” The latest entry in the SVU canon—which aired almost exactly one year after “American Tragedy”—was a similarly chock-full affair, complete with an analogous title (“American Disgrace”), another big-name guest star (Stacy Keach as a Donald Sterling-esque billionaire), and the same disingenuous opening title card: “The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event.”

Mmmhmmm. Check out this list of issues crammed into the episode, then judge for yourself. READ FULL STORY

You need to watch 'The Simpsons' premiere's insane opening sequence

Shout all you want that The Simpsons hasn’t been good for the past [insert number less than or equal to 16] years; either way, you can’t deny that the show’s recent spate of elaborate, extended couch gags has led to some dazzling, audaciously creative stuff.

This is especially true when The Simpsons turns over its opening to famous animators and filmmakers like Michal SochaGuillermo del Toro—and, most recently, indie idol Don Hertzfeldt, beloved for absurdist fare like the Oscar-nominated short film Rejected. (Contrary to semi-popular belief, he has nothing to do with those lookalike Pop Tart commercials from 2011; as the F.A.Q. section of his website states, “Unfortunately it seems to be the vogue these days for creatively bankrupt corporate types to copy his work, which is why you may be noticing an abundance of vaguely familiar, cowardly lifeless parrots parading around selling Pop Tarts or mobile phones.”) READ FULL STORY

Chris Pratt hosts tonight's 'Saturday Night Live' premiere: Talk about it here!

Saturday Night Live comes back tonight? Honestly, thanks to a hiatus filled with casting announcements and Update shakeups and meticulous analysis of the show’s history (not to mention Live from New York‘s rerelease), it sort of feels like it never left. (Just me?)

Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be champing at the bit for tonight’s 40th season premiere—a sure-to-be splashy episode featuring a leaner, meaner cast, an all-new pair at the Weekend Update desk, and a host with potential to immediately join the list of greats. Maybe it’d be best to go over topics of discussion point by point: READ FULL STORY

A history of the ever-changing 'Saturday Night Live' cast

Ever since its second season, when Chevy Chase decided to ditch Saturday Night Live for Hollywood—he was replaced by some guy named Bill Murray—the only constant on NBC’s long-running sketch series has been change.

Some cast members leave to make movies or TV series or joke-punk albums nominally written by their British alter egos. Others quit in protest. Still more are forced out, not because they want to leave but because the show is going through a fraught series of retoolings (see: the ’80s). Or because it has to make room for a new crop of bright young things (see: Chris Parnell, the first time he was let go from SNL). Or because budget cuts mean an across-the-board belt-tightening (see: Chris Parnell, the second time he was let go from SNL). Or because the previous year’s cast was simply too damn big (see: the four featured players from season 39 who won’t be returning when the show does Sept. 27). And every time cast members go, either gently or kicking and screaming, there’s a fresh crop of untested talent waiting to take their places. Just call SNL the hydra of comedy.

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See The Rembrandts perform the 'Friends' theme live at 'Central Perk'

Thought Manhattan’s Central Perk pop-up coffeeshop couldn’t get any cooler? Think again. (I should note right up top that I’m using the word “cool” relatively.)

Last night, a preview of the temporary space—which officially opened Wednesday—featured a very special musical guest. Nope, it wasn’t Lisa Kudrow as Central Perk mainstay Phoebe Buffay, or David Schwimmer’s Ross showing off his “sound”: It was the pop-rock duo of Phil Solem and Danny Wilde, better known as The Rembrandts. Really, though, they’re best known as the guys who sing Friends‘ clap-happy earworm of a theme song.

After strumming through three of their original compositions, The ‘Brandts gave the people what they wanted: a tuneful, energetic rendition of “I’ll Be There For You.” Click below to find EW‘s admittedly amateur video of the performance, guest-starring a professional cameraman who blocks our view of Wilde for much of the song and some very enthusiastic audience singing.

(If you’re listening closely during the second verse, you’ll also hear one of those superfans ask an immortal question: Who takes time to make breakfast when they’re already two hours late for work?)

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Miss America 2015: 'Jane Austin,' terrifying frogs, and more of what you missed

On the night of Sept. 14, some Americans expressed their patriotism by cheering as the Chicago Bears mauled the San Francisco 49ers. More refined types took in the first episode of Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: An Intimate History on PBS. The classiest nationalists of all forewent TV entirely, choosing instead to read the Constitution by candlelight while listening to the collected works of John Philip Sousa and supping on a freshly roasted bald eagle.

But those of us who really know what these United States are all about spent the evening watching the unique ridiculosity that is the Miss America pageant on ABC. And while this year’s telecast suffered from a notable absence of butt glue, generally speaking, it didn’t disappoint: The smiles were unnaturally wide and white, the gowns were cheesy, and, most of all, the facts that popped onscreen during the talent portion were fun. (And weirdly focused on animal encounters.)

In the end, it all came down to two American paragons: Miss Virginia Paige Garrett, a Liberty University graduate who performed opera in a gown inspired by her favorite Holiday Barbie, and Miss New York Kira Kazantsev, a first-generation Russian-American who really, really loves Pitch Perfect. Kazantzev was victorious, becoming the 88th Miss America and the third consecutive winner from New York—but these alternate-category winners also deserve some recognition.

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Remembering Michael Che's too-brief 'Daily Show' run

DAILY-SHOW-MICHAEL-CHE.jpg

When word broke late Thursday that Saturday Night Live will shake up the Weekend Update desk once again this season, fan reaction was swift and decisive. The consensus: Lorne Michaels was replacing the wrong anchor.

Specifically: Cecily Strong, who took her seat at the Update desk last fall—and earned generally positive reviews for her work there—is out. SNL head writer Colin Jost, who joined Update in March after Seth Meyers’ departure—and has received, er, slightly less encouraging feedback—is staying put.  READ FULL STORY

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