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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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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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'Saturday Night Live': Tim Meadows lashes out after Bill Brasky sketch

Not all Saturday Night Live fans embraced the return of Bill Brasky. But while most probably changed the channel after a few seconds or so of the final sketch (see below) from the Paul Rudd-helmed episode, Tim Meadows decided to post his feelings on the Internet. 

The former SNL cast member took to his Facebook page to air his grievances, writing, “They did Brasky with out me” — the first in a string of posts about his disappointment at not being invited to the show.

Meadows’ followers responded immediately, sending their condolences and asking what happened. The actor and comedian answered in a series of comments, explaining his displeasure at not being asked to come back for the skit, which he usually took part in (the Brasky sketch used Kenan Thompson in his place as the last Brasky Buddy to join the others), and for missing the chance to take his kids to see musical guest One Direction — er, “5 directions,” according to Meadows.

“Not even a ‘hey would you want to come to do one line and bring your kids to see the 5 directions…?’ Nothing… Wow,” Meadows wrote. “I guess it just dawned on me that I mean NOTHING to them… It doesn’t matter in the long run. I’m grateful for what they did for me. But everyone in a while as a fan and a alumni, it stings a little to not even be considered as someone they would like to come back around… I’m not Anchor Man and I’m not promoting a show so who would want to pay for me to fly to NYC. I’m nobody… NOBODY!!”
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'SNL' recap: Paul Rudd brings a parade of surprise guest stars -- VIDEO

SHRIEEEEK! OH. MY. GOD. You guys, it’s… One Direction! No, Paul Rudd! Wait, no, Kristen Wiig! Fred Armisen?! Will Ferrell! David Koechner! Steve Carell! … Bill Brasky?!?!?!

Deep breaths, dear SNL-watching, squee-happy readers, because even though last night’s show paraded out surprise guests like Captain von Trapp did his children in The Sound of Music Live & Condensed, the strong sketches that opened the evening quickly led to lackluster ones with diminishing returns that didn’t effectively showcase host Paul Rudd nor had any particularly inspired ideas (there are exceptions, of course — more on those below). READ FULL STORY

Paul Rudd and One Direction take on 'Saturday Night Live': Talk about it here!

In this corner: Charming, charismatic, boyishly handsome Paul Rudd, a potential vampire who successfully made the transition from rom-coms to quirkier comedies long before tonight’s musical guests had anything approaching fame. In this corner: The charming, charismatic, boyishly handsome members of One Direction, a lad band with an army of tweenage fans and the power to make even curmudgeons admit that its songs sure are catchy.

Which of these two will rule the roost at Saturday Night Live tonight? The obvious answer is Rudd. He’s a veteran SNL host with two other stints under his belt already, a talented improviser who’s won membership into a number of exclusive comedic fraternities, and, oh yeah, a lead in one of winter’s biggest movies: Anchorman 2, of which you may be ignorant only if you’ve somehow stayed away from the Internet and television and movie theaters and well-traveled roads for the past few months. Given the film’s nonstop promotional campaign and the backgrounds of Rudd’s co-stars — one starred on an NBC sitcom for seven season, another was a cast member on SNL for just as long, and the third both played the first one’s best buddy on said sitcom and had a brief stint on SNL as well – it’s also almost inevitable that Rudd’s hosting gig will come complete with cameos from Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Dave Koechner. (In my dream world, Christina Applegate is there too.) A lineup like that would certainly push the night in Rudd’s favor.

But don’t discount Simon Cowell’s most successful pet project. The boys were the stealth stars of Rudd’s promos earlier this week, and they too have SNL experience. Last time they were on the show, they even threw on history’s worst wigs and fake mustaches to play a quintet of visitors to the Manuel Ortiz Show:

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Paul Rudd gets ready to host 'SNL' with ONE DIRECTION OMG OMG -- VIDEO

Paul-Rudd-SNL.jpg

The sixth lead of 200 Cigarettes is hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend? Who cares — because the show’s musical guest is ONE DIRECTION! EEEEEE!

That’s the general gist of Paul Rudd and Vanessa Bayer’s delightful new SNL promos, which also feature Rudd polishing off his old, petulant Wet Hot American Summer schtick (always nice to see) and a surprising paucity of Anchorman 2 talk — which is kind of a breath of fresh air, considering that movie’s utterly relentless marketing campaign. (Kind of a big deal glass case of emotion 60 percent of the time stay classy etc.) Fade into American flag:

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PopWatch Planner: 'The Walking Dead,' 'Out of the Furnace,' 'The Sound of Music Live!' and more

What’s worthy of PopWatching this week? The first week of December means holiday programming is in full cheery swing with an SNL special, a CMA caroling fest, and a Sound of Music live reboot. But it’s still early, so don’t let the Christmas fever get out of hand. Casey Affleck fights to the bone in Out of the Furnace, in theaters this Friday. And you’ve got zombies to deal with in the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead tonight.

All times listed are Eastern.

SUNDAY 12/01

The Walking Dead, 9 p.m.,  AMC mid-season finale

Will slow and steady win the zombie race for TWD‘s mid-season finale? Will a Governor/Rick prison face-off give fans a thrilling (albeit familiar) end? Be sure to catch up on all of this season’s slow-growing action with Maricela Gonzalez’ recaps.

MONDAY 12/02

CMA Country Christmas, 9 p.m., ABC

Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles hosts this holiday special featuring country stars performing treasured Christmas tunes. The lineup includes Sheryl Crow, Trace Adkins, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, and more.

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