Kenan Thompson took the stage in an oversized three-piece suit and an awkward wig bursting with Jheri curls. He looked, objectively speaking, completely and utterly ridiculous.
Seconds before, a BET logo flashed across the screen as SNL cast member Will Forte, playing a talk show announcer, introduced the sketch: “It’s ‘What’s Up With That!’ Tackling the issues of today with soul,” Forte bellowed. “Now, here’s your host: Diondre Cole!”
It was October 17, 2009, and unlikely as it seemed, Thompson was finally about to have his moment with the debut of a Saturday Night Live skit that would define him.
He boogied in with a silly zip to each step. Perfectly in time, perfectly in tune and perfectly in control, Thompson began to sing, “Ooo―eee! What up with that? What up with that?” along with his two go-go dancers, played by Nasim Pedrad and Jenny Slate.
What, exactly, was happening? Almost no one seemed to know, most especially the bewildered guests of the fictional show, which included James Franco played by James Franco, Abby Elliott as a famous environmentalist and, inexplicably, the Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham performed by Bill Hader.
Eventually, the music stopped, and Thompson took a seat next to his guests. Behind him rested a candelabrum with three unlit candles. Nothing about what was happening made sense, but Thompson looked calm. “All right!” he yelled. “This is ‘What’s Up With That.’ We’ve got three wonderful guests here joining me. We’re going to talk about people.”
Before he could get in another word, a high-hat started playing in four-four time. Suddenly, Thompson’s eyes widened. He turned to his guests with a mischievous smile and a boyish excitement. His words took to the rhythm of the beat.
“We’re going to talk about places,” he continued. “We’re going to talk fingers. We’re going to talk about faces.” Then, he worked with the horns, which had also joined in. “We’re going to talk about things pertaining to you, and you, and you, and you, and you. You too! Not you, but you and you. Everybody sing!”
Just like that, a gyrating Thompson was in the audience ― leaving behind his bewildered guests ― the go-go girls were back at it, and a dancing Jason Sudeikis had appeared on stage in a red Adidas jumpsuit with an enormous gold chain around his neck. Fred Armisen was there, too, with a curly Kenny G-style wig on his head and a saxophone in his hands.
It was a hypnotic, confusing mess. Why was a Fleetwood Mac guitar player appearing on BET with James Franco and an environmentalist? Why weren’t they talking? Had we missed something ― a previous version of the sketch, perhaps? What was the point? But for some unexplainable reason, it was funny.
To many viewers, SNL is most memorable in seasons like the current one, when national elections lead us back to the show on NBC to make sense of the world around us. But to the people on stage at that moment, this was the show at its best ― a sketch based around the absurd outer reaches of their collective imagination, not the political windings of the week. And Thompson was the maestro orchestrating it all.
After almost a lifetime on television, Kenan Thompson might be on a first-name basis with the general public, but he doesn’t come close to registering as one of the most famous people to walk through the doors of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. His time on the show has never translated into Hollywood stardom or his own TV show. Even at SNL, there has always been someone else who took the title of favorite ― a Tina Fey, or an Andy Samberg, or a Kristen Wiig, or a Kate McKinnon.
But quietly, Thompson, who joined the cast in 2003, has strung together a run at SNL that will soon be without precedent.
Should he return next fall for another season, Thompson will make SNL history, becoming the single longest-running cast member ever at 15 seasons.
The Huffington Post spoke with a dozen current and former SNL writers and cast members for this story. What emerged is a portrait of excellence, and of a man who has mastered a set of skills that many of his peers feel have not gotten enough recognition.
What makes Thompson special is not best utilized in movies, or on a pre-recorded sitcom, or behind a desk ― but right there, live on air at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
“If you were designing the person perfect for SNL, most of the components would look like Kenan,” Lorne Michaels told me in a phone interview earlier this year.
Thompson makes everything at SNL better. The writers can rely on him to bring them back a laugh. The cast members know that he’ll set them up for their own moment. And the crew members know that they’ll have someone who will act as an on-stage director, controlling the tempo of the sketch and the people around him.
Back in 2009, however, when he walked on stage as Diondre Cole for the first time, Thompson felt anything but perfect. By then, it had already been six long years since he had joined the show, and many of his peers had long ago established themselves with signature characters. Hader had Vinny Vedecci. Kristen Wiig had the Target Lady. Andy Samberg had his pop star persona in his digital shorts.
Thompson had a few minor hits here and there, like “Deep House Dish” and “Scared Straight.” But by and large, he had yet to find a niche on the show. A couple of times early on, he even “donuted,” a phrase used by SNL cast members to describe when someone doesn’t appear on camera a single time in an episode.
In person, Thompson is soft-spoken, polite and reluctant to talk about himself. When we met at a restaurant near 30 Rock one afternoon in January, he wouldn’t even eat his chicken wings until the official interview had ended for fear of seeming rude. During our conversation, he admitted that he quietly struggled with himself during those early years at SNL.
He couldn’t find his voice, and the situation led to panic and uncertainty. He had difficulty watching himself on screen. In a moment of frustration, Thompson said, he asked his manager, “Why you even got me on this fucking show?”
Later, he would realize “donuting” is rather normal for young players. But for a while, it left him feeling self-conscious, especially considering an awkward truth: He was different from the people around him. He hadn’t arrived by way of the improv world of Second City or The Groundlings, nor as an up-and-coming comedian in the stand-up scene, like most other cast members. He was Kenan Thompson, former child star of Nickelodeon’s “Kenan & Kel” and “All That.”
His time at the children’s network had helped get him to SNL, but it also led to insecurity once he was there. He had trouble getting work after leaving the network, and privately started to fear people would never see him as anything more than one part of a comedy duo.
“People made it seem at first like we couldn’t do anything without each other, like we weren’t funny individually,” Thompson said. “Kel and I, we both decided that we wanted the world to know that there was a Kel Mitchell and a Kenan Thompson.”
At SNL, Thompson did what he could to reshape his image. He became close friends with Bryan Tucker, who joined the show as a writer in 2005. Once, Tucker, who is now a co-head writer on the show, asked Thompson if he would be willing to pair up with another cast member for a sketch. Thompson agreed, but in a moment of vulnerability, he admitted to Tucker that he wanted to do something by himself.
“I think he was just trying to forge his own road,” Tucker said. “Especially early, he hoped to make his mark as an SNL star, not as a guy who you used to watch on cable.”
It would take time. To other people at SNL, Thompson clearly possessed a knack not only for memorizing his written parts, but calmly delivering them so consistently that he would become a safeguard for the writers on the show. He also enjoyed a comfort onstage that he had been building since his Nickelodeon days, and an ability to play any number of small parts on short notice. But what, exactly, did he do better than anyone else? Even he wasn’t sure.
“The first couple years, [I was] just panic-stricken, not knowing if I’m doing good or not knowing if I’m making an impression or the right impression,” Thompson said.
So he made himself essential in other ways. Behind the scenes, his kindness became a calming presence. “It’s a real hard job,” former cast member Darrell Hammond admitted. “I looked for him every day just to talk, just to shoot the shit about something. He made me feel good.”
But after six years of working at SNL without ever quite thriving in it, Thompson finally found something in “What Up With That.” It was bizarre and disorganized and unlike anything else on the show. And it was a hit ― and his hit to boot.
“Once it happened once, I was like, ‘Oh, this is a great formula,” Thompson said. “Then when we did it the second time, I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this.’”
“What Up With That” gave Thompson confidence, and it gave SNL writers an understanding of his greatest strength: his ability to act as an on-stage director, calmly and selflessly pulling the most out of the people around him amid confusion.
“He’d make me look funny,” said Hader, who would return as the always-silent Buckingham many more times. It was a generosity multiple cast members mentioned.
But Thompson, Hader said, had another weapon. Unlike most of the show’s actors who might have pre-performance jitters, Thompson was never nervous. Instead he’d mess with other actors seconds before they went on air, sending them onstage with a laugh and an air of confidence. He watched sketches when he had free time, offering words of encouragement when something fell flat. And onstage, Thompson didn’t compete. He facilitated.
When I told Thompson how often his peers brought up “What Up With That” as being one of their favorite skits, he brushed it off with a joke. “I love a good party!” he laughed. But later on, his willingness to put the sketch above himself became clearer.
“I just love for the sketch to go right,” he said. “If I’m involved in it and it’s my thing, it has to be right.”
Inside SNL, Thompson’s innate understanding of sketch comedy, built over a lifetime of practice, has become an anchor for the show, providing a steadiness that can be hard to come by, even among the world’s best comic actors.
In January, Tina Fey, dressed as Princess Leia during a guest appearance, told host Felicity Jones, “If all else fails, you should know that back in Season 35, I put a fatal flaw in the system: If you take out Kenan Thompson, the studio will explode.”
The ability and willingness to adapt on the fly to the writers’ desires is one of the most important skills a cast member can acquire, and it’s what makes Thompson indispensable, Hammond told me. And boy can he adapt. According to the SNL fan site SNLarchives.net, he has already impersonated well over 100 people during his time on the show, more than any other cast member in the show’s history. He’s played Al Roker, David Ortiz and Cee Lo Green, as well as Tyler Perry, Whoopi Goldberg and Sway. He has also played Sir Mix-a-Lot, Maya Angelou and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
“He’s a thing that almost doesn’t exist anymore, which is: He’s a variety performer,” Lorne Michaels said. “He can sing. He can move. He can do comedy, and he knows who he is in front of an audience.”
“If you were designing the person perfect for SNL, most of the components would look like Kenan,” said SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels.
SNL is currently enjoying its most successful season in more than two decades, thanks in large part to the near-constant material provided by the election of President Donald Trump. But James Andrew Miller, author of “Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live,” noted that SNL needs to survive in years when political news is slow, too.
That’s where Thompson comes in, he said. While many others have made their name with political impressions, Thompson began to make his through what Miller described as “the blocking and tackling of the show — bringing memorable characters to life who aren’t connected with topical news, but are flat out funny,” with spectacular moments like this year’s David S. Pumpkins bit, or driving a Family Feud sketch as Steve Harvey.
Then, there is that look. You know the one: A wide-eyed Thompson turns toward the camera as it zooms in ― the closest thing humans have produced to a real-life cartoon character. “He’s the person who can steal a sketch with not even a word ― a cock of the eyebrow,” said Will Forte, who joined the show one year before Thompson.
SNL writers would also come to understand the power of that look. When they expected a sketch to lean a tad weak, the writers learned to tuck in a “KENAN REACTS” line to the script. It can easily wrap up a joke, but it also does something else: It allows the audience to feel as if they have a friend onstage, someone they can relate to even if they’re alone on Saturday night.
As Forte explained it, “I would imagine people watching must feel like he’s one of their buddies, or family members.”
Thompson’s understanding of what makes a great sketch, and his ability to improve it on the fly, slowly became a source of amazement among writers and cast members alike.
“There are times when the director will have the wrong shot and Kenan, in real time, will be pointing to the other camera just instinctively knowing how shots should go,” said Colin Jost, a current co-host of “Weekend Update.”
Thompson has found a unique niche onstage in the bizarre, silly world where “What Up With That” lives. But when the camera stops rolling, he plays a role on the show that runs almost counter to his on-screen persona: that of the mentor.
He tells new insecure writers when they wrote a good joke. He watches new cast members from the side of the stage to give them a vote of confidence. “He’s so supportive,” said former SNL writer Tim Robinson. “He’s always the first to give it up.”
When Leslie Jones arrived in 2014, she was already a fully formed stand-up comedian. “I thought I was the funniest motherfucker that lived and nobody could tell me different,” she said. But Jones found herself feeling frustrated by the the show’s rules and more laborious requests.
The time-consuming pre-taped segments, in particular, bothered her. Eventually, Jones told Thompson she didn’t want to do them anymore. “How are you going to sit here and say you aren’t going to do pre-tapes anymore?” Jones recalled him asking her. “You’re part of the cast. Yes, you are, and don’t come in here telling me that you’re not.”
Jones credits Thompson’s insistence that she take all aspects of the job seriously, from the pre-taped segments to the table reads, as one of the main reasons for her success on the show. “I don’t think I would have took the place the way I was supposed to take it if it wasn’t for him,” she said.
Jones owes her career at SNL to Thompson in more ways than one. On Oct. 14, 2013, TV Guide published an interview with him in which he announced that he would no longer play black female characters on SNL, which had lacked a black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left in 2007. When asked why the show hadn’t hired a black female member since Rudolph, Thompson replied, “They just never find ones that are ready.”
TV Guide took the soundbite and ran with it, entitling the piece, “Kenan Thompson Blames SNL’s Diversity Issue on Lack of Talented Black Comediennes.”
Just weeks earlier, fellow SNL cast member Jay Pharoah had told a reporter for the black news site The Grio that he was unhappy that the show lacked a black female cast member. The two events together led to the largest controversy of Thompson’s career.
Black female comedians created a video entitled “WE ARE READY!” to protest his comments. Color of Change, a racial justice organization, demanded Lorne Michaels address his show’s lack of diversity. Jones, who didn’t know Thompson at the time, made her anger known too at a Los Angeles comedy club called Inside Jokes.
“He should come battle me,” Jones reportedly said. “Give me ten minutes and I’ll ruin his life.”
The situation upset Thompson. Non-confrontational almost to a fault, he continues to insist that he was quoted out of context, and that he did not mean to imply there were no adequate black female comedians at that time. But as a result of the TV Guide article, Michaels held a special audition for black female comedians less than two months later, which led Michaels to hire Sasheer Zamata as a featured player and LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones as writers. (Jones would later make the transition to cast member.)
Thompson’s comments briefly hurt his reputation, but ultimately they helped to diversify the racial makeup of the show. He’s fine with that tradeoff. “If I was the villain of that whole thing, I don’t really care,” he says now. “Because at the end of the day, Leslie is my homie, and Sasheer is my homie, one of the sweetest people I know, and LaKendra got her shine.”
SNL remains largely white and male. But with Thompson, Jones, Zamata and Michael Che all on board in Season 42, and Melissa Villaseñor joining as the show’s first Latina featured player, there’s reason to feel optimistic that Michaels is getting serious about diversifying the cast.
“It’s just cool to see walls getting kicked down while I’m there,” Thompson said, adding jokingly, “It’s an epic time for black people on the show.”
He dismissed the idea that he had a role in the show’s increasing diversity, instead pointing out that Che is the first black man to host “Weekend Update.” “He broke down real barriers,” he said. “He should be on the cover of Ebony like almost every week!”
But in his own way, Thompson has done what he can at SNL to make sure black Americans are better represented on the show. Bryan Tucker said Thompson has taken the time to patiently explain that diversifying the show isn’t beneficial because it silences public pressure but because “making these hires and doing this allows us to have this whole new perspective on things ― opens up new doors of the show.”
Kenan Thompson has quietly advocated for “Saturday Night Live” to become more racially inclusive during his time on the show.
That was clear last last October, when host Tom Hanks joined Zamata, Jones and Thompson onstage as a rural Trump supporter for a sketch called “Black Jeopardy.” The sketch connected the political concerns of white Trump supporters and African Americans in a way that few journalists or politicians could do in the months leading up to Trump’s election, and it quickly became one of the most talked about moments of the season.
When will Thompson decide to leave SNL? Darrell Hammond, who is tied with him for longest run on the show, decided that his time was nearing after he didn’t win a role portraying anyone in the Obama administration. Tim Meadows, who held the record before Hammond, said that after a decade, “I kind of felt like at a certain point, you have to sort of give somebody else a shot.”
Should Thompson want to return next season for a record 15th season ― and he says he does ― he’ll be welcomed back. “I dread the day when he actually leaves,” Michaels said. “I would have him back for the next 20 years if I could figure out a way to keep him.”
It sounds like he will. Thompson has thought about leaving at times, but famous as he is, he knows he isn’t a movie star, and he isn’t a stand-up comic, either. He’s a sketch comic actor ― one that has finally distinguished himself as the singular comedic force he wanted to be.
This season, only Kate McKinnon is more popular than Thompson among regular viewers of SNL, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in December and January.
“I thought that SNL was just going to be that bridge into being an adult actor,” he said. “They’ve not only been a bridge. They’ve been a fucking highway for me.”
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by huffingtonpost.com
Jason Alexander is returning to scripted television.
The multiple Emmy-nominee is set to star and exec produce Audience Network’s straight-to-series comedy Hit the Road, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
From Primary Wave Entertainment and Fabrik Entertainment, the 10-episode comedy is about a dysfunctional family of would-be rock stars who travel the country in a cramped tour bus searching for fame and fortune. Alexander will star as Ken Swallow, the patriarch of the family.
“I am so honored by the faith and support we’ve been given by AT&T Audience Network and our producing partners,” Alexander said. “We are so excited to bring this funny, fearless, chaotic musical family to life. And we are so grateful for the opportunity.”
Created by Peter Tilden, Hit the Road serves as a reunion for the writer with Alexander as the duo previously teamed for ABC’s short-lived comedy Bob Patterson. Tilden will pen the script alongside British screenwriter Dean Craig (Death at a Funeral). Both will exec produce alongside Alexander, Audience Network’s Christopher Long, Primary Wave’s Bart Peters, David Guillod, Mark Burg and Fabrik’s Melissa Aouate and Henrik Bastin. Primary Wave will co-finance the series.
“Working with a comedic genius like Jason Alexander is truly an honor and we know our viewers are going to fall in love with their quirky and hysterical twist on the modern-day Partridge Family,” said Audience Network head Chris Long. “Jason has been responsible for some of the most memorable comedic moments in TV history and we are thrilled that they are joining the Audience Network family as we continue to develop and grow our original programming platform.”
Hit the Road becomes Audience Network’s latest scripted foray following Rogue, Kingdom, Mr. Mercedes, Ice, Loudermilk and Condor. It’s the second series Primary Wave will produce for the former DirecTV, joining Peter Farrelly and Bobby Mort’s Ron Livingston comedy Loudermilk.
For Fabrik, it joins a list of originals including Amazon’s Bosch and TNT drama pilot Deep Mad Dark. The company’s credits include The Killing, Burn Notice, The Comedians and American Odyssey.
Alexander, meanwhile, earned seven Emmy noms for Seinfeld and most recently earned a Tony for best musical actor for his multiple role performance in Jerome Robbins’ musical revue Broadway, which he wrote and starred in. He’s repped by Innovative.
Presented by Elliott Cowan
Written by hollywoodreporter
Erin Moran, the former child star who played Joanie Cunningham in the sitcoms “Happy Days” and “Joanie Loves Chachi,” died Saturday at age 56.
A statement from the Sheriff’s Department in Harrison County, Indiana, said the dispatcher “received a 911 call about an unresponsive female. Upon arrival of first responders, it was determined that Erin Moran Fleischmann was deceased. An autopsy is pending.”
The dispatcher confirmed to The Associated Press that the woman was the actress, who had been married to Steven Fleischmann.
A Burbank native, Moran began acting in TV and movies before she was 10 years old. She had several years of experience when she was cast in 1974 in “Happy Days” as Joanie Cunningham, the kid sister to high school student Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard. Other cast members included Tom Bosley and Marion Ross as Joanie’s parents and Henry Winkler as the lovable tough guy Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli.
“What happened with all of us was like we were this family,” she told Xfinity in 2009. “It was so surreal with all the cast members. They were my family, get it?”
Debuting at a time of nostalgia for the seemingly innocent 1950s, the sitcom was set in Milwaukee and became a long-running hit. Howard and Winkler were the show’s biggest stars, but the smiling, freckle-faced Moran also became popular. In 1982, she was paired off with fellow “Happy Days” performer Scott Baio in the short-lived “Joanie Loves Chachi.” Moran returned to “Happy Days” in 1984, the show’s final season.
“I would love to do a feature (film), I’d love to do a play,” she told CNN in 1981 when asked what she’d like to do after “Happy Days.”
Her more recent credits included “The Love Boat” and “Murder, She Wrote,” but she never approached the success of “Happy Days” and was more often in the news for her numerous personal and financial struggles and was reportedly homeless at times.
In 2011, she and Ross and former “Happy Days” actors Anson Williams and Donnie Most sued CBS, saying they were owed money for merchandising related to the show. The lawsuit was settled the following year.
Moran told Xfinity that she had been working on a memoir, called “Happy Days, Depressing Nights.”
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by latimes.com
Kurt Russell can sum up his 55-year acting career in one word: “Brandy.”
Not the alcoholic beverage. Russell makes his own wine. He’s not going to betray his beloved Pinot with another drink. No, “Brandy,” the 1972 hit song, the one with the parenthetical (“You’re a Fine Girl”) in the title, the song about the whiskey-and-wine-serving barmaid, a “fine girl,” who makes the mistake of falling in love with a sailor whose life and lover and lady is the sea.
Russell sings “Brandy” in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” as a way of explaining why his character, Ego the Living Planet (more on that name later), hasn’t been around much for his son, Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord. Ego calls “Brandy” Earth’s greatest composition, a line that, thinking about it, makes Russell laugh (and Russell is a man given to great laughter) loud and hard.
And then he relates the song to his career. And because this is Russell talking, the explanation is insanely detailed and delivered with enthusiasm and takes more than a few left turns. But here’s the gist:
“A lot of the movies I did, that were misunderstood at the time, live in that world of ‘Brandy.’ That level of humor. ‘Is this cruel but funny? Or not cruel at all but kind of cool? No, they don’t seriously think “Brandy” is the greatest song ever written, do they? Nooooooo!’
“Well, I want all those feelings in there. I want to run the gamut of having people say, ‘Oh my God, yes! Finally somebody realizes that “Brandy” is the greatest … song ever recorded’ to snickering, ‘Oh, that’s funny. “Brandy.”’
“And I’ve spent my whole career making movies that run that fine line. And sometimes they’re out of whack with what’s going on out in the world. If you’re doing ‘The Thing’ the same year ‘E.T.’s’ coming out, you are not in step. ‘Big Trouble in Little China.’ We did so many things in that movie that had not been done at the time. That’s ‘Brandy.’ It all falls into the ‘Brandy’ world. Can you make them laugh but also have them say at the same time, ‘But I kind of love that song.’ And not let the fact that it may not be the most successful commercial venture at the moment stop you from saying, ‘Do it.’ Because eventually people will get it and say, ‘Oh, there was a method to this guy’s madness.’”
“Guardians of the Galaxy” writer-director James Gunn describes Russell as the “most famous cult actor in the world,” which, for Gunn and many of his contemporaries, gives the 66-year-old a supreme coolness and cachet. Russell’s movies usually turn a profit, but few have been huge hits and fewer still earned Oscar nominations. (Russell himself has never been recognized by the academy. He’s not even a member. His awards rap sheet is criminally small: A Golden Globe nod for “Silkwood” and an Emmy nomination for his title turn in “Elvis.”) But forget all that, Gunn says. Russell’s films — “Escape from New York,” “Death Proof,” “Hateful Eight,” “Stargate,” “Tombstone” (it’s a long list) — remain more relevant today than those of many of his peers.
“I just think he really loves acting and that’s what makes him different,” Gunn adds. “He’s not interested in the accolades and money isn’t the most important thing. He loves the craft and the fact that he’s able to wake up every morning and do this for a living. He just might have more integrity than any actor I’ve ever met, and I love him for it.”
Russell’s enthusiasm for his job is indeed boundless. The word “lucky” comes up often over the course of a 90-minute conversation in Santa Monica, and he measures a movie’s effectiveness, both as a participant and an audience member, based on whether he senses the actors are having a ball. (By his reckoning, both the recent “Moonlight” and “La La Land” passed with flying colors.)
“There’s a lot of criteria that needs to be addressed before you sign on,” Russell says, giving some weight to Gunn’s likening of working with the actor to “wrestling a playful bear.”
“With sequels, it’s like: ‘Rocky I, III and V,’ ‘Star Wars 2, 4 and 7.’ I don’t know. I probably have the numbers off. But what I do know is that you don’t want to be in the one they didn’t like.”
Which means he needed to understand the motivations behind a character named Ego the Living Planet, a shape-shifting mass that gained sentience and assumes human form when it suits his purpose.
“First, you have to consider his name. Now, I’ve seen some people with some pretty huge egos,” Russell says, again laughing with great pleasure, “so putting that self-assurance across was easy. But you have to downplay the power because, for him, that’s nothing. He’s done it for millions of years. What needed to be there was the sincerity in the father-son relationship. Because that’s what an audience can understand.”
There are limits though to catering to the audience. Russell has been adamant in his disdain toward career tribute offers from film festivals and organizations (“That’s really dangerous … I don’t want to get lost in that”) and has long told the Hollywood Walk of Fame that he wouldn’t accept a star before his longtime partner and love, Goldie Hawn, received one. Then, to his horror, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce invited them to a star ceremony together.
“Already, I’m going, ‘Uuuuugh, geez,’” Russell says. “I’m fully prepared for it to be the most embarrassing moment of my life,” and to illustrate the point, he gets up and hides behind a chair. “That’s what I used to do when I was a kid. I’d see the publicity guy come on the set and I’d go hide in the rafters. The crew would be like, ‘I haven’t seen him.’ And then they’d leave and I’d go back to work. Because that’s what’s fun, the doing, not the talking.”
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by latimes.com
It’s official! Fox has ordered a second installment of “The X – Files” event series, meaning it will return for season 11. On April 20, the network announced that 10 more episodes are coming and now fans are super pumped.
The X-Files fans, rejoice! The hit science fiction series will be returning to Fox for a 10-episode second installment, according to a press release from the network on April 20. More than three years after the last revival was announced, it was revealed that stars David Duchovny, 56, and Gillian Anderson, 48, will be returning in their roles as FBI Agents. Production is set to begin this summer and the highly anticipated event series will air during the 2017-2018 season. Viewers couldn’t be more excited about the show’s renewal, with many taking to social media!
Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan
Written by hollywoodlife.com
I’m raising two people and [I’m seeing] their interest in cell phones and YouTube and how different it is for them ― and my navigating having gadgets around and trying to be there for my kids,” she said. “So there were just topics that could not not be present on the record by virtue of the fact that they were an immediate influence on my life.”
Crow also couldn’t avoid the current political and social climate when writing songs for the new set, her first since 2013’s “Feels Like Home.”
“This record felt like all the emotions and topics were in the ether. There was no escaping them,” she said.
The album, produced by Jeff Trott, harkens back to the vibe felt on Crow’s earlier records. In fact, Crow says it has the same “spirit” as her self-titled 1996 sophomore album, which featured the hits “A Change Would Do You Good,” “Everyday Is a Winding Road” and “If It Makes You Happy.” She was coming off the success of her debut, “Tuesday Music Night Club,” and the runaway hit, “All I Wanna Do.” It was around that time, though, when Crow felt as though people were just “over” her.
“It’s human nature. People were excited to be in on the discovery bandwagon and that emotional ownership of someone who was just starting and word of mouth … but then when it became a giant commercial product, it lost its kind of punkiness and when you start showing up on every cover people feel like you’re not that same person that you were. I mean, I understand it,” said Crow. “I’ve seen it happen with so many celebrities and now it’s different because it’s to your advantage to be on the cover of everything, but back then it didn’t help your art at all.”
She also felt pressure to snag single after single following all of the early success. Not to mention some of the pushback she received after being, well, what felt like practically everywhere.
“It was an unbelievable blessing, but I just didn’t know how to handle that. How could people not be happy with me? I’m such a people pleaser, or I was back then until I got breast cancer and then I quit being a people pleaser,” Crow said about being diagnosed with the disease in 2006.
Now, two decades later, Crow says she feels comfortable with where she’s at in her professional career and personal life. She’s not writing music for “pop culture” or for Top 40 radio ― or even for a particular age group. And Crow’s still having fun, she says.
Sheryl Crow’s life today doesn’t look exactly how she imagined it would ― and the singer-songwriter is completely OK with that.
The Grammy winner, who releases her new album, “Be Myself,” on Friday, says she feels more liberated and fearless than ever.
“I thought things were going to look different in my life with regard to getting married and having babies and all that,” Crow, 55, told The Huffington Post. “And I would not change a single thing. I’ve traveled all over the world and I’ve had other jobs, which have definitely informed who I am and how I look at this part of my life. I wouldn’t trade it.”
Crow, who worked as a teacher before pursuing music, adopted two boys (now ages 10 and 7) and says that being a mom has been one of the best experiences she’s ever had.
“I’m enjoying being present for my kids and being able to experience life through people who are going through it for the first time,” said the Missouri native, who now calls Nashville home.
Her sons, Wyatt and Levi, are part of what inspired the new music. There’s a song, for example, called “Alone in the Dark,” in which she sings about turning off devices and technological distractions.
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by huffingtonpost.com
After being fired from Fox News after a series of sexual harassment allegations were made public, the veteran TV host is lashing out at the “unfounded claims” against him.
O’Reilly, 67, released a stinging statement where he slammed the accusations that he sexually harassed multiple women and that the network paid out over $13 million in settlements.
“It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” he said in the release.
Besieged with complaints about his conduct, the Murdochs announced they were letting him go on Wednesday.
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations against him, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Mr. O’Reilly will not return to the Fox News Channel,” Rupert, James and Lachlan all wrote in a letter to employees.
O’Reilly attributed the “unfounded claims” to his celebrity status stating that such allegations are “the unfortunate reality many of us in the public … must live with today.”
“Over the past 20 years at Fox news, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television,” he continued.
Without naming the Murdochs or any co-workers, O’Reilly thanked his fans.
“I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”
Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan
Written by radaronline.com
Days of Our Lives vet Alison Sweeny is returning to the NBC soap opera to reprise her famous role for an extended visit.
Thrilled to be coming home, Sweeney, 40, told Soap Opera Digest exclusively about her return to the show where she played the iconic character for 21 years.
The former Biggest Loser host admitted that she had a rough time getting back on set.
“And unfortunately, this year’s been hard for me because of my knee injury, so I had to push some stuff back. So, I figured out a schedule, blocked out some time that I had available and we figured it out!” she said.
Sweeney told Digest that she’s bringing back the drama in the summer: “I’ll be shooting in Salem in May and June.”
Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan
Written by radaronline.com
There is something about using actors posthumously in movies they never shot that just doesn’t sit right.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy dropped a bombshell on Star Wars fans Friday when she announced Carrie Fisher would not appear in Episode IX.
Todd Fisher, the brother of the late actress, previously suggested his sister’s image would used in the 2019 Star Wars installment, but Kennedy said he was “confused.” It’s a no-go.
There is something about using actors posthumously through CGI that just doesn’t sit right with me.
I know this is not a new debate. The issue was brought up when Rogue One was released, and viewers discovered Peter Cushing had been brought back to life onscreen in his role as Grand Moff Tarkin using visual effects.
It was scary how good the character looked. Too scary. And I think that is the issue.
There is just something about it that seems disrespectful to me. Now, I know the Cushing estate gave Disney its permission and blessing to move forward, but it felt off. And because it felt off, it took me out of the movie when he was onscreen.
Even if recent, never-used footage of Fisher were cobbled together for Episode IX — as Todd Fisher seemed to be suggesting was the case — there’s still no way that could do the character, or the actress, justice. Kennedy and director Rian Johnson have been praising Carrie Fisher’s performance in The Last Jedi, and it seems only fitting that this movie should stand as her final appearance as the character.
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Written by hollywoodreporter.com
Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show is undergoing a revamp for season two.
Chelsea, which formerly aired three nights a week on the streaming giant, will now air once a week on Fridays at 12:01 a.m., starting April 14.
The new episodes will each run an hour long, an increase from season-one episodes, which ran between 20 and 40 minutes. Season two will feature more in-depth interviews, bigger field pieces and dinner parties. The format change will also see Handler venture outside the studio more, with travel planned to India, Europe, Montana and Washington, D.C., among other locations.
Season two will stream for 30 weeks, meaning 30 hours of content has been produced for Chelsea — a fall from the original 45 hours (90 half-hour episodes) Netflix ordered when the series was renewed in July.
Handler made the announcement Thursday on her Twitter account.
The changes follow a rough first season for Chelsea, the first show of its kind for Netflix. Despite big buzz for the former E! talk-show host, Handler’s show quietly launched last May to lackluster reviews. Showrunner Bill Wolff (The View) exited just three weeks in, with Handler announcing she would run the series alone.
Handler opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about the “rocky start” for Chelsea in July at the Democratic National Convention. “There were a couple weeks where I was like, ‘What the f-— am I doing?'” she said. “Then I made the adjustment and was up and running and got the train on the track. And now it’s great. It’s exactly what I wanted to do. I get to talk about all different topics. I get to interview people I’m interested in.”
The format change is reminiscent of the docuseries Handler produced for Netflix before her eponymous talk show launched. Titled Chelsea Does, the four-part series saw her tackling subjects such as drugs, racism and marriage in-depth.
Netflix has recently pushed further into the talk-show genre. Bill Nye is set to launch his own science-themed talk show, Bill Nye saves the World, on April 21. Other unscripted projects for the streamer include its first reality competition series, The Ultimate Beastmaster, which will be released worldwide on Feb. 24.
Handler joins a growing group of late-night hosts who have embraced a weekly format, among them Samantha Bee on TBS and John Oliver for HBO.
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by hollywoodreporter.com