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Why we're pumped to see Drake host 'SNL' -- VIDEO

degrassi-drake.jpg

Two words, guys: Wheelchair Jimmy.

Fine, a few more words: This weekend, Saturday Night Live announced that 2014′s first show will be helmed entirely by Drake, playing the role of both host and musical guest. Pulling double duty on SNL is a big deal for any artist, but it’s especially notable for a rapper; only a handful in SNL history have done so before, including M.C. Hammer (in 1991), Queen Latifah (in 2004), and Ludacris (in 2006).

All three of these rappers have one thing in common: previous acting experience. Ludacris hosted after receiving good notice for his work in films like Crash and Hustle & Flow. Queen Latifah had 117 episodes of Living Single under her belt, not to mention an Oscar-nominated turn in Chicago. Hammer had… the short-lived Saturday morning cartoon Hammerman, which starred its namesake as a mild-mannered “guy named Stanley” who transforms into a superhero when he puts on a pair of magical dancing shoes. Seriously. (I didn’t say they all had good acting experience.)

And Drake, of course, also fits this mold. Long before he started going by his middle name, Drake was known as Aubrey Graham — one of the original stars of Degrassi: The Next Generation, a.k.a. the greatest Canadian export since The Kids in the Hall. Drake played Jimmy Brooks, a basketball star who’s one of the most popular kids in school. He’s also a bit of an amateur rapper himself:
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'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Can anyone beat Jimmy Fallon?

When Jimmy Fallon aced the Christmas 2011 episode of Saturday Night Live, yours truly suggested that his hosting become an annual holiday event. The former cast member and future Tonight Show host has all the skills to be one of show’s best guests, and he was in top form when he stepped back in to Studio 8H over the weekend to spread some more Christmas cheer. He sang, he did impressions, he broke character — it was the full-on Fallon treatment. Admittedly, he had some assistance from Justin Timberlake — Bing Crosby to Fallon’s Bob Hope — but you can’t penalize a guy for having funny, charismatic friends.

Safe to say that Fallon is about to make a huge impression on our Mr. Saturday Night poll. In fact, with none of the other four contenders with more than 26 percent of the vote, the field is wide open for Fallon to set a first-week record for support. Last week, John Goodman eked out a win, but it wasn’t a margin of victory that promises him a long life in our season-long contest. Paul Rudd was right behind, while Kerry Washington slipped to a close third, despite an encouraging six-point bump. Josh Hutcherson rallied support, eliminating Tina Fey, who’d been hanging precariously since hosting the season premiere. Blerg.
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'SNL' recap: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake's Christmas bro-down

Now that’s what I call a Christmas show!

Saturday’s Jimberlake joint wasn’t perfect. It certainly wasn’t as consistently wonderful as Jimmy Fallon’s last Christmas episode, which set the standard for SNL holiday cheer two years ago. And it did contain one sketch offensively bad enough to almost ruin the whole night’s effect. Pound for pound, though, Fallon and his unofficial cohost Justin Timberlake did present one of this season’s best overall episodes — thanks largely to their unflagging energy and enthusiasm, which gave a jolt of joy to even the night’s less inspired bits. (We’re making fun of Paul Ryan? Still? Now?) Last week’s holiday-themed John Goodman episode was a letdown; this week’s holiday show felt like a pleasant corrective.

But interestingly enough, the night’s biggest triumph actually didn’t rely on Fallon and Timberlake’s chemistry at all. I’m talking, of course, about the episode’s…

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Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake rule 'Saturday Night Live' tonight: Talk about it here!

#JimmyFallon. #JustinTimberlake. #SaturdayNightLive. #BestEpisodeEver?

Let’s not take things too far. We should, however, be prepared for an SNL episode where everyone’s at the top of their game. Fallon (the episode’s host) and Timberlake (its nominal musical guest, though you know he’s basically co-hosting) tend to bring out the best in everyone around them whenever they stop by SNL individually. And with their powers combined, TimberFal can reach all kinds of heights.

Surprises, of course, will be in store. But given what we already know about this dynamic duo, it’s safe to make a few predictions about what to expect as well. Such as:

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Jimmy Fallon comes home for Christmas in 'Saturday Night Live' promos -- VIDEO

Jimmy Fallon: What a nice guy! So nice, in fact, that he’s totally cool spending most of his SNL promos ceding the spotlight to somebody who isn’t even present — Justin Timberlake, who will join his pal Fallon on this weekend’s show.

Nominally, Fallon is hosting the show, while Timberlake is just there to sing. But knowing these guys, it’s safe to guess that Timberlake is going to play a bigger role than most musical guests. And given Fallon’s improvised promos song — featuring an adorably serious Kate McKinnon, channeling Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig’s Garth and Kat — perhaps we can expect the future Tonight Show host to crash SNL‘s musical stage as well.

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'SNL' recap: John Goodman returns for a 13th gig, solidly hosting a shaky episode

Thirteen times; seriously, John Goodman has now hosted Saturday Night Live 13 times. I can’t think of anything significant I’ve ever done 13 times. And I was really looking forward to maybe rubbing Goodman’s episode in the faces of those who are just holding on until Fallon/Timberlake next week. It’s not that those two aren’t great; they are, and all of my fingers are crossed for them. But Goodman has been just as good in the past, an SNL champion if ever there was one.

It was 2001 when Goodman last hosted and, for reference, Ja Rule was the musical guest. We have a tendency to glamorize the past and I know that there were stinkers back then like there were last night. But there were also huge successes, like Goodman’s Wilford Brimley “diabeetus” commercial or anytime he was conniving as Linda Tripp. I don’t think we got anything like that from SNL last night.

The episode certainly had its moments, but those moments were more, “oh yes, that is a true and funny thing,” than laugh out loud. If next week’s turn with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake is supposed to be like going to the most outrageous Saturday night party, then John Goodman is usually like deciding to stay in with delivery and not feeling guilty about it: As a host, he’s joyous and reliable, a return to a level playing field. It’s been 12 years without the jovial host since his last turn, and I was glad to have him back, even if last night’s episode hovered around a B. It wasn’t mind-altering, but it was better in Goodman’s hands than it would have been in anyone else’s.

If you gave up after Weekend Update, I would understand, but then you missed some of the more redeeming sketches of the night. This was no outright chuckle-fest, but the cast got down to business trying to make a series of one-joke sketches into something more.
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PopWatch Planner: 'Anchorman 2' in theaters, 'The X Factor' finale, and more

As we head into the holiday season, this week has a little bit of everything. From Beyoncé’s surprise album — which you should download now — to Ron Burgundy’s return in Anchorman 2 and every fall finale in between, here’s what we recommend you put on your schedule:

SUNDAY 12/15
Homeland season finale AND Beyoncé on iTunes

Homeland wraps up its third season this week — what’s in store for Brody and Carrie? Other than an hour of twists and turns, we can’t be sure!

Plus: Queen B’s newest album was secretly released on iTunes and is the perfect soundtrack for any weekend activity.


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John Goodman hosts 'Saturday Night Live' for the 13th time: Talk about it here!

With all the hubbub surrounding Saturday Night Live‘s imminent cast addition, it could be easy to forget that there will be a new episode of the show tonight. But SNL does indeed have 90 minutes of new material (minus commercials and wailing from Kings of Leon) to present for our viewing pleasure this evening — and it’s going to be good.

Why do I predict that? Because of this:

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Get to know 11 black women who just auditioned for 'SNL' -- VIDEO

It’s official: Come January, SNL will be adding a black woman to its cast. (And possibly two, though Lorne Michaels is reportedly wary of having too many broads on set. Sigh.)

That woman could be one of the 11 comedians who apparently auditioned for SNL in a special showcase at L.A.’s Groundlings Theater. Comedian Simone Shepherd tagged them all in an Instagram photo that has since been taken down — and after looking into each one, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of talent here. So much for black women not being ready for the Not Ready for Primetime Players.

Learn more about all 11 — and see some of their best work — below. (NBC and Shepherd haven’t yet responded to our request for comment.)

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This week's 'SNL' promos: Welcome home, John Goodman -- VIDEO

John Goodman will host Saturday Night Live for an astonishing 13th time this weekend. (Note for trivia hounds: This makes Goodman SNL‘s third most frequent host, close on the heels of Alec Baldwin, who’s hosted 16 times, and Steve Martin, who’s hosted 15 times.)

Somehow, though, it’s been 150 12 long years since the last time Goodman helmed the show — and in the promos below, you’ll see precisely why that’s ridiculous. Whether he’s skewering Clinton-era “celebrity” Linda Tripp during his ’90s SNL heyday or goofing around with current cast member Taran Killam outside of Rockefeller Center, Goodman and SNL just make sense together. In other words: EW’s Saturday Night Live host poll is about to get interesting. Especially if Goodman inspires a cameo from his TV wife Roseanne.

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