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'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: And the winner is...

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Saturday Night Live turns 40 years old next year. The big 4-0. What does that mean, exactly? Well, to put it in perspective, that means 11 of the 21 people who hosted during SNL‘s 39th season were not even alive when the show premiered on Oct. 11, 1975 with George Carlin as host. The show has evolved slightly from one cast to the next. But at its core, it’s still the same format that Lorne Michaels and his irreverent crew established way back when, though the first few seasons relied on such a small circle of guest hosts that Buck Henry became the inaugural member of the Five-Timers Club before the end of season 3.

It would be interesting to go back to the very beginning and award a Mr. Saturday Night to the best host for every season of SNL. Elliott Gould might take the prize in season 1 for performing double duty, and perhaps Steve Martin wins in season 2 for the same feat. But who deserves the honor for season 3: Martin again, for hosting a record three times, or a tongue-in-cheek nod to Chevy Chase, who brawled with Bill Murray on his first time back after leaving the show?

At least we know who have been the best hosts of the last three years. In 2012, EW.com readers crowned the first Mr. Saturday Night, Jimmy Fallon. Last year, Justin Timberlake ran away with the trophy. This year, the two title-holders teamed up for one super-size Christmas spectacular with Fallon as host and Timberlake as musical guest. But still, Fallon has hardly been a cinch, rising and dropping in the weekly polls that eliminated one host at a time until we were left with six finalists. His former Weekend Update co-anchor Tina Fey is back in the game, and Catching Fire‘s Josh Hutcherson is the surprise dark-horse who remains in striking distance. Might he surprise everyone and accomplish what even Jennifer Lawrence could not last year — win Mr. Saturday Night?

Before we announce the victor of this year’s contest, though, there are six other non-democratic awards to present. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' poll: Who was the best host of the year? -- VOTE

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Early during this season of Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin interrupted first-time host Edward Norton to share some pointers on how to host the legendary show, a late-night institution in its 39th season. “It’s a three-wheeled bus careening towards a blown-out bridge,” he said, describing the delirious mayhem that can either terrify or thrill a novice. It’s not easy in the slightest, and honor to those who make it look so.

For the third straight year, Entertainment Weekly has asked its online readers to vote for the best Saturday Night Live host each week. And every week, we eliminated one guest host, until we were left with six of the season’s finest. Last year’s Mr. Saturday Night Justin Timberlake didn’t return this past season to defend his crown. Instead, he lent his unofficial support to BFF and fellow Mr. Saturday Night Jimmy Fallon as his musical guest and all-around secret weapon. (He even sent Fallon’s rival, his old digital-short pal Andy Samberg, a very public show of non-support.) But this final vote promises to be extremely close, with only six percentage points separating the last week’s top-3 vote-getters: Fallon, Josh Hutcherson, and Anna Kendrick. To that mix, add Samberg, who is going to be fresh in everyone’s minds, and Tina Fey, an all-timer who was granted a second chance. Hoping to make up ground is first-timer Andrew Garfield. While Timberlake won last year with nearly 50 percent of the vote, it’s entirely possible that this year’s winner takes the prize with under 30 percent. READ FULL STORY

'Turn' react: Abe duels with the devil

What’s not to love about a duel? Stand 10 paces apart from a man who’s insulted your honor. Flip a coin to see who fires first. Aim. Shoot. Kill or die. In 1804, the sitting vice-president of the United States, Aaron Burr, killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in Weehawken, N.J. American history was forever changed. In Sunday’s episode of Turn, Abraham Woodhull found himself staring down the barrel of a Captain Simcoe’s pistol after the ruthless British soldier returned to Setauket with his eyes set on Anna Strong. Abe had been led to believe that Simcoe was dead — that was the whole genesis of the Culper spy ring in the first place — but his return following a prisoner exchange pressured Abe into a deadly scenario. How could a farmer who’s never killed before possibly survive a duel with a cold-blooded professional soldier? READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' best host contest: Who deserves a second chance?

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After 20 episodes, the 39th season of Saturday Night Live draws to a close this weekend, with a very special homecoming for Andy Samberg, who returns as guest host for the first time. Expectations are understandably high for Samberg, who was an SNL all-star for seven seasons before taking his talents to Golden Globe-winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Fans of Samberg and his Lonely Island comedy group are likely counting on a new digital short, like its SNL viral hits “D-ck in a Box” and “Jack Sparrow,” and there’s always a solid chance — it being the season finale — that some other famous faces make a cameo.

Those possible developments will only enhance Samberg’s already solid chances for winning this year’s Mr. Saturday Night contest. After all, hosting the finale is a built-in advantage since voters will have his episode fresh in their minds when they have to chose between him and the four surviving finalists from this week’s vote (Josh Hutcherson, Jimmy Fallon, Anna Kendrick, Andrew Garfield, Charlize Theron). Then again, appearing last didn’t exactly help Ben Affleck last year. He finished last in the final vote, far behind his Runner Runner co-star and fellow SNL Five-Timer Justin Timberlake.

There will be one additional name on the final Mr. Saturday Night ballot on Monday, and once again, it’s up to you to grant a second chance to one of the season’s best hosts. Every year, some of our favorites get cut unfairly, tragic victims of the tyranny of the masses. (Hint, hint… Tina Effin’ Fey!) Last year, Seth MacFarlane was rescued by the voters, and he ultimately placed fourth in the final tally. Might Kerry Washington, Louis C.K., or two-time runner-up Melissa McCarthy shock the vote if they get a mulligan? Now is your time to be heard, to right a wrong. Vote below for the best SNL host who didn’t make the cut — but should’ve. READ FULL STORY

Seth Meyers launches 'Second Chance Theater' with 'SNL' sketch that never made it to air -- VIDEO

Will Forte has literally been waiting years for this moment.

Some background: In March, Seth Meyers revealed plans to introduce a new Late Night feature called “Second Chance Theatre.” The segment would highlight rejected SNL sketches, including a lost Jason Sudeikis vehicle called “Juggling Flyer” and Will Forte’s “Jennjamin Franklin.”

What, exactly, is Jennjamin Franklin? As Forte explained to Splitsider last year: “It’s this woman who is the spitting image of Benjamin Franklin, and this guy gets set up on this date with this woman, and she’s, like, this real sexual creature but looks exactly like Benjamin Franklin.”

Last night, in the very first installment of Second Chance Theatre, all of Forte’s weird colonial dreams finally came true. Feast your eyes on something that proved too weird for the show that brought us “Bird Bible”:

READ FULL STORY

'The West Wing' oral history: 9 things you didn't know or forgot

Since Frank Underwood became president on Netflix’s House of Cards, I’ve had this geek fantasy of him debating Josiah Bartlet, Martin Sheen’s idealistic and professorial president from The West Wing. Bartlet’s Washington, D.C., was the proverbial shining city on a hill, a place where intelligent, well-intentioned people gravitated to do the peoples’ business. Underwood’s capital is the nasty underbelly of a trough coated by man’s craven pursuit of power for power’s sake. It’s practically Kennedy’s Camelot versus Nixononian realpolitik. To paraphrase Anthony Hopkins’ Nixon in Oliver Stone’s 1995 movie, “When [people] look at The West Wing, they see what they want to be. When they look at House of Cards, they see what they are.”

The West Wing was a political world worth aspiring to, and eight years after the show went off the air, many young politicos — more liberal than conservative, of course — reference Aaron Sorkin’s show as an early influence that pointed them towards D.C. The Hollywood Reporter recently published an oral history, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the show’s premiere, with Sorkin, showrunner Tommy Schlamme, and many from the cast and crew contributing. It’s a fun, nostalgic read, one that digs into several what-ifs and reinforces my belief that Bartlet would debate “There’s No ‘U’ and ‘I’ in Education” Underwood under the table.

1. Martin Sheen was practically an accidental president

The show first offered the nation’s top job to Sidney Poitier, and Jason Robards was high on everyone’s list, but the 77-year-old was not in good health and would die in 2000. Hal Holbrook and John Cullum (ER) also read for the part. But Sheen, who’d worked with Sorkin on The American President, was a natural who made the showrunners reconsider the size of the role of their president. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' host poll: Did Charlize Theron's show sing? -- VOTE

Charlize Theron can’t sing — but that really is about the only thing she can’t do better than you. She’s beautiful, of course, has an Oscar, and has proven on Between Two Ferns and Arrested Development to be extremely funny as well. Her return to Saturday Night Live for the first time since 2000 — she was promoting The Legend of Bagger Vance then — is pegged to A Million Ways to Die in the West, her comic western with Seth MacFarlane; Hmmm, so maybe the only thing she can’t do well is believably watch Will Smith caddy for Matt Damon.

Saturday was a mixture of high and lows, as most SNLs are. Still, Theron had some fine moments that should make for an interesting vote in this week’s Mr. Saturday Night poll. With only one week to go in the season, our contest is truly wide open. Andrew Garfield made a splash last week and holds a commanding lead in the voting with 39.5 percent. That’s a solid but not spectacular debut showing, and it will be interesting to see if the Spider-Man star can hold those numbers. Jimmy Fallon was rock steady again with 22.3 percent, and he might be poised to move up again if anyone falters. Anna Kendrick had been in first place but her support was slashed in half, from 33.9 to 16.9 percent. Ditto for Josh Hutcherson, whose week-to-week numbers have been like a yo-yo; he sank to fourth place with 15.7 percent. Louis C.K. was eliminated with only 5.6 percent. READ FULL STORY

'Turn': Have we seen the death of Abraham Woodhull?

Abraham Woodhull is the American’s lone productive spy in 1777 New York, but did we see a glimpse of his bloody fate? In the episode’s opening moments, he meets with an undercover British officer in a tavern teeming with Redcoats. After a quick exchange of passwords, Abe leaves with a special coded egg, marked with the intentions of the British troops — Philadelphia By Land. But outside, he’s harassed by a hungry British soldier, and in their haggling, the egg breaks, Abe’s ruse is discovered, and he’s shot in the gut. The Brit yells, “Traitor! Traitor! I’ve killed a traitor!” while Abe bleeds to death in the gutter.

This can’t be happening now — but is this somehow foreshadowing something in the future? Or is this just a worst-case scenario of Nathaniel Sackett, the American spymaster (Stephen Root) who later chastises Benjamin Tallmadge for his sloppy — but fortuitous — intelligence operation in Setauket? Or, perhaps, is this what actually awaited Abe in Manhattan if hadn’t been sidetracked by a desperate American patriot on his way to the city — and if newly free Captain Simcoe hadn’t stabbed Sackett’s undercover agent in the neck during dinner at John André’s? Had Abe been scheduled to meet the same American agent clumsily trying to pass himself off to André as a captured British officer? READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' host poll: Was Andrew Garfield an 'SNL' superhero?

Andrew Garfield had a pretty great weekend. His Spider-Man sequel grossed more than $92 million and he delivered a promising debut as host of Saturday Night Live. Credit the writers or his celebrity helpers — who included girlfriend Emma Stone, Jack Bauer, and Chris Martin — if you must, but Garfield more than held his own. He was bold, imitating his Social Network adversary and SNL all-star Justin Timberlake during a “Celebrity Family Feud” sketch; he was a brilliant man-on-the-run in a fake trailer for The Beygency; and he even had some fun anti-kissing his real-life girlfriend in a Spider-Man sketch. Combine that with some very funny Weekend Update bits — bravo Leslie Jones! — a great twist on Oliver, and a decent cold open about disgraced basketball owner Donald Sterling, and you get what I thought was one of the finest episodes SNL has had all season.

But in our third annual Mr. Saturday Night contest, my vote counts as much as yours — and the competition is tight. The most recent host before Garfield, Seth Rogen, landed with a thud, garnering only 3 percent of the vote and a quick elimination. Anna Kendrick retained her lead, but just barely, with 33.9 percent. Apparently, Josh Hutcherson‘s fans came back from spring break to vote, as his support more than tripled, from 10 percent to 33.8 percent. Jimmy Fallon held steady with 22 percent, but he’s not necessarily the one to beat anymore, despite his status as a former champion. Louis C.K. finished fourth again, with only 7.3 percent, and he’ll be tested to hold off Garfield this week. READ FULL STORY

'Turn' react: George Washington gives the revolution new life

It’s Christmas in 1776. The British are celebrating in New York — drinking, hammering George Washington pinatas, diddling ladies of the theatre — while waiting for the inevitable news that the rebellion has been crushed. In Setauket, Long Island, the fury over the dismantled gravestones hasn’t passed, especially in the mind of Abraham, who hasn’t forgiven his Tory father for digging up his brother’s resting place to defend the British artillery. Perhaps hard feelings can’t be warmed over a glass of sherry, but it’s still the holidays for the relatively secure and well-off Woodhull family.

But what of the American slaves? Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? After an earlier episode of Turn, I expressed concern that the black characters might be shortchanged, especially since the inconvenient facts of American history reveal that their interests are served best by a British victory, which would, in most cases, secure their freedom. Last night, to the show’s credit, it veered right into that storm, with Judge Woodhull’s legal confiscation of imprisoned patriot Selah Strong’s property liberating his slaves on Christmas Eve. The slaves rejoiced, but Anna appealed the decision to the unsympathetic Major Hewlett, who is so paranoid of rebel attack that his horse is now quartered inside the former church. “It’s cruel, this business of freeing slaves of suspected patriots,” she said, and it was important, I think, to hear a colonial slaveholder express that widespread sentiment, because of all its ironic complexities and ramifications. Cruel to the slaveholders — boo-hoo! — but Anna seemed to also imply that it was cruel to the slaves as well. How will they possibly survive without their benevolent mistress? READ FULL STORY

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