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'SNL' recap: Jim Parsons tries to prove he's 'not that guy,' while new 'Update' anchor debuts -- VIDEO

Now that the Olympics are over, NBC has finally returned to its normal programming, which means that Saturday Night Live is back…with a bazinga! Emmy winner Jim Parsons, best known for playing practical jokes on The Big Bang Theory, tried to trade away his nerdy persona to host the show for the first time with musical guest Beck returning for his seventh time on the SNL stage. The show’s return also marked the debut of new Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost, who replaces current Late Night host Seth Meyers.

Well, actually I guess NBC is still obsessed with winter sports, because a hockey game delayed the start of the show. Rude. Anyway, the opening featured Kate McKinnon as this year’s Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres and made some uncomfortably dark jokes about her constant dancing and 12 Years a Slave. And that was just the first reference to the film of the night. Actually, there were a lot, maybe too many, sketches and jokes about the Oscars and this year’s nominated films (mocking Barkhad Abdi’s Captain Phillips character twice in one episode is a little much). Also, why are more and more hosts appearing in the opening now? Melissa McCarthy did in her latest outing as host, and Parsons’ first appearance of the night was as flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir. Is it just me or is something lost in seeing the host before the monologue? It seemed like a weird sketch to open with anyway. READ FULL STORY

Jim Parsons hosts 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend: Talk about it here!

Jim Parsons is delightful. He’s cute, charming, good with a punchline, and unfailingly humble, even when being nominated for (and winning) yet another Best Actor trophy for his work on The Big Bang Theory.

That said, Parsons faces one major roadblock as an actor: He’s so closely associated with theoretical physicist/brilliant jerk Sheldon Cooper, whom he’s been playing for seven seasons on CBS, that it’s a little jarring to see him inhabit another role. And maybe more importantly, Sheldon Cooper is so beloved that a lot of people might not want to watch Parsons experiment with a different character.

Think of Parsons’ debut episode of SNL, then, as a sort of fresh start — an easy way for him to quickly play a bunch of different sorts of people, proving his range and getting folks used to the idea that he and Sheldon are, in fact, different people. READ FULL STORY

Jim Parsons shows off dancing skills in 'SNL' promo

There’s a time and place to say “bazinga,” and Jim Parsons isn’t above policing when that time and place is. The Big Bang Theory star is hosting Saturday Night Live for the first time this Saturday, and he has to deal with an overexcited Bobby Moynihan in the promos for the show. “Hi, I’m Jim Parsons and I’m hosting SNL with Beck,” Parsons starts one clip, with Moynihan replying, “Bazinga!” “No, Bobby, you’re supposed to say that after some sort of prank.” Moynihan doesn’t exactly understand.

Most of the promos revolve around Big Bang Theory, including the show’s alleged laugh track and Parsons’ nerdy character, but the highlight is when Parsons and Moynihan awkwardly “ice dance” around the studio. Watch the full clip below: READ FULL STORY

'Late Night With Seth Meyers' premieres tonight: 5 things we want to see

Each iteration of The Tonight Show‘s mischievous younger brother has had its own unique flavor. David Letterman’s pioneering version was cutting-edge and unpredictable; Conan O’Brien’s was cerebral and absurd; Jimmy Fallon’s was goofy and YouTubey, and “wait, you remember the ’90s TOO?!”-y.

Late Night‘s latest host, ex-SNL head writer Seth Meyers, will obviously try to forge his own path. That said, he also has a few things in common with each of his predecessors — and it’s easy to see a scenario in which he synthesizes the strengths of all three previous hosts (Letterman’s innovation, Conan’s surreality, Fallon’s knack for viral content) to create some sort of ultimate Late Night Frankenshow.

Something like that, of course, would only come with time. For now, let’s focus on what we’d like to see from Meyers’ very first Late Night, which airs tonight on NBC at 12:35 a.m. ET. First and foremost: READ FULL STORY

'SNL' made Seth Meyers a heartwarming goodbye video: Watch it here

With less than a week to go before his big Late Night debut, Seth Meyers must be freaking out just the teensiest bit right about now. It’s the perfect time, then, for his old show to release a video guaranteed to put a smile on his face — a surprisingly earnest montage of current SNL cast members and writers all telling Meyers how great he is and how much they’re going to miss him.

Even if you don’t happen to be Seth Meyers — a condition that unfortunately affects the vast majority of the world’s population — the video is pretty delightful. Bobby Moynihan does his segments while clutching a gigantic Hulk fist. Nasim Pedrad remembers how nice Meyers always was to her dad, even when he was giving Seth unnecessary notes. Kenan Thompson shows a display of emotion that’s somewhere between “just for laughs” and “genuine.” Vanessa Bayer reveals that she was in an all-female sketch group in college called “Bloomers,” and that Meyers wore the Bloomers shirt she gave him to his very last table read. Cecily Strong… is conspicuously absent, but maybe that’s just because she wanted to save her feelings for Seth’s last Weekend Update. READ FULL STORY

Stefon on 'Late Night'? Seth Meyers says...

Could Seth Meyers’s Late Night feature a guest appearance by the comedian’s significant other? By that, of course, I don’t mean his real-life wife Alexi Ashe — I’m talking about his fake-life husband Stefon, a.k.a. Bill Hader’s best-loved SNL character.

The answer? “Bill and I spoke during my last SNL, and we do think he’ll turn up eventually,” Meyers told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live Wednesday.

We can expect other SNL stars to stop by as well; after all, Meyers’s new studio is just down the hall from the sketch show’s. Just don’t expect a reunion to happen every night; the host added that he doesn’t want to crowd his new show with too many reminders of his old job.

Watch Meyers talk shop in our late-night highlight video below.

READ FULL STORY

Fred Armisen's music career: A pre-'Late Night' primer -- VIDEO

It’s no joke: Comedian Fred Armisen really has joined Seth Meyers’ Late Night as bandleader-slash-music-“curator.” He’ll be helming the talk show’s house band — a talented group that also includes guitarist Seth Jabour of Les Savy Fav, bassist Syd Butler of Les Savy Fav, keyboardist Eli Janney of Girls Against Boys, and drummer Kim Thompson of Beyoncé’s touring band — even when he’s busy with other projects, like IFC’s Portlandia.

For those who know Armisen only as “that weird guy from SNL,” this news may seem more than a little random. But Armisen’s actually got plenty of music industry bona fides — his showbiz career began with a gig as a punk rock drummer, he made his first steady paycheck as a drummer for the Blue Man Group in Chicago, and he’s frequently showed off his multi-instrumental skills on both SNL and Portlandia. So before Armisen picks up his Late Show guitar — he’ll be both strumming and singing for Meyers’ 8G Band — let’s take a look back at his second, slightly more obscure career… which frequently bleeds over into his comedy.

READ FULL STORY

Spend a year with 'SNL' rookie Brooks Wheelan (in less than 10 minutes) -- VIDEO

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Back in September, Brooks Wheelan was announced as one of the six new cast members who would be joining Saturday Night Live for its 39th season. But for months before that, Wheelan was already in the middle of creating a “second a day” video for 2013.

The Iowa native was living as a stand-up comic in Los Angeles at the beginning of the year, surfing and skateboarding included. Wheelan chronicled his travels across the country performing before moving to New York at the end of August, providing a fun and unique perspective behind the scenes with his fellow cast members at SNL.

Check out a year in his life below: READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Can Melissa McCarthy crash the boys' club? -- VOTE

Melissa McCarthy is on a roll. Not only did she star in two of last year’s biggest comedies, but she’s also hosted Saturday Night Live in each of the last three seasons — the only performer to achieve that feat in that span. This past weekend, she didn’t even have a project to plug — a detail that became a funny gag in her opening monologue — but she’s one of those guests who clearly loves the show’s comedy environment. In fact, no one throws him or herself into characters more than McCarthy, who craves physical comedy perhaps more than any female comedian since Molly Shannon.

McCarthy had to share the limelight on Saturday, what with Seth Meyers’ touching farewell, but she delivered some great moments, including the return of aggressive coach-turned-congresswoman Sheila Kelly. It seems certain that she’ll be a major contender for Mr. Saturday Night after finishing second in the past two years, and she enters a race that is wide open. Jimmy Fallon holds a narrow lead, with 26.5 percent, while Drake slipped from first to a close second, with 24.3 percent. Josh Hutcherson saw his support nearly double from last week, and his fans have him right near the top, with 21.4 percent. Jonah Hill had a disappointing debut, with only 17.9 percent, but that was enough to eliminate Kerry Washington.

A quick rundown on our objective: To identify the funniest, most memorable SNL host, the person who best fit in with the cast and put on a performance that you, your mom, and your co-worker were all chuckling about on Sunday afternoon. It’s subjective, of course, but let’s reward the guest hosts who brought something special to the table. My own personal bottom line: Do you want to see this host back on the show next season?

So far, Bruce Willis, Miley Cyrus, Edward Norton, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey (Blerg), John Goodman, Paul Rudd, and Kerry Washington have been eliminated.

Below, I’ve embedded one representative clip for each of the five hosts currently in the race. After the poll closes, the host with the least support will be eliminated, and the surviving four will face off against the next host — still unannounced — on March 1, after the Winter Olympics are finished.

Watch the clips, refresh your memories, and vote. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' recap: Seth Meyers (and old friends!) steal Melissa McCarthy's show

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Melissa McCarthy will do anything for a laugh.

Fans have known that since Bridesmaids (or, really, Gilmore Girls), and over the past few years she’s become a box-office star who is known for her intense, all-in characters that dominate both the screen and the discussion following the movie. So it was no surprise she’s been a reliably great SNL host the previous two times she hosted, and last night was no exception. If the episode as a whole felt underwhelming, it was only because expectations were sky-high — and laughs-wise, there was an emotional goodbye full of favorite friends to contend with as well.

McCarthy caught viewers off guard right off the bat, appearing in the cold opener as a Broadway performer tapped to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. I’m guessing this skit will be among the most divisive of the night. I personally liked it simply because it wasn’t yet another stale political opener, and, not for nothing, if Broadway wanted to start having a Super Bowl halftime routine, I certainly wouldn’t complain. (Of course, performers like Beyoncé and Prince already bring a level of spectacle to the proceedings that no musical could hope to contend with.) It wasn’t the funniest opener of the season, but it beat last week’s ice-skating Olympics sketch, and it was nice to at least see a couple silly original characters — the most random being Kenan Thompson’s Ben Vereen.

But the cold opener was merely an appetizer for trademark McCarthy. In her monologue, the host pointed out she really didn’t have anything to promote, and that she simply enjoys being on the program. Perhaps the randomness of it all led to the most WTF monologue of the year, with McCarthy and Bobby Moynihan in a feud that needed to be resolved by an onstage fight – in the air, on wires. Check out the results (So many in-air summersaults!) below: READ FULL STORY

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