Last spring, former talk show host Arsenio Hall emerged victorious from the quasi-famous-person crab bucket of Celebrity Apprentice’s fifth season, beating out Clay Aiken for the right to drink Donald Trump's pee and declare it to be the best-tasting pee ever micturated. Within days, the usual sources-close-to were stage-whispering that there might be another late-night gig in Hall's future. This past Monday night, that future finally arrived with the debut of Hall's new syndicated talk show, Arsenio.
As rumored and conjectured, Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers will indeed take over Late Night after Jimmy Fallon moves to The Tonight Show. The news was confirmed this weekend by NBC and Meyers, who told the New York Times "Working at 'SNL' requires 100 percent of your mental capacity — on easy weeks. And so I had not really spent a lot of time thinking about what I was going to do next. Obviously I can't quit Lorne [Michaels]. So this seems like a pretty good deal that I have an opportunity to keep working with him." According to Lorne — who'll now be executive producing Late Night and Tonight (plus, of course, SNL — the NBC after-hours trifecta) — the decision to hire Meyers came with "complete agreement [at NBC] the only name that kept coming up was Seth."
By now we all know that Jimmy Fallon is taking the Tonight Show to New York, and that Jay Leno, at least temporarily without a desk to call home, is facing down the prospect of spending more quality time organizing his airplane hangar full of antique steam cars and pressed denim shirts. But NBC's sudden re-reshuffling of its talk-show roster has, however momentarily, left a void at the 12:35 a.m. time slot. Yes, there have been rumors that the gig is "Weekend Update"'s Seth Meyers's to lose, but rumors are just that until a contract materializes, so the Grantland staff has taken it upon itself to give NBC a little much-needed assistance in choosing its Fallon replacement.
Bill Simmons: I’m rooting for a show called “The White Man’s Perspective With Doug Gottlieb,” but the odds aren’t looking great right now. OK, so what does NBC do? Everyone is already making Seth Meyers the 12:30 favorite while forgetting the following rules of 12:30: Don’t pick someone who might be better at hosting a late-night show than your 11:30 guy (and Seth might be better); don’t pick someone who would potentially threaten your 11:30 guy (and Seth might); don’t pick someone who overlaps with your 11:30 guy (and Seth comes from the Lorne Michaels/SNL machine, has many of the same talent/celebrity connections, and trusts all of the same people); don’t pick someone who’s the same age as your 11:30 guy (and Seth is one year older than Jimmy); and for a second time, DON’T PICK SOMEONE FOR 12:30 WHO MIGHT BE BETTER THAN YOUR 11:30 GUY. Because that could potentially be awkward.
Important note: I’m a big Seth fan (he’s a pantheon B.S. Report guest) and believe he’s destined to have a very good late-night show for someone. But this looks too easy to me. See, the consensus favorite never gets the 12:30 gig — history says they always go outside the box with someone who makes you say, “WTF????” Which is why I’m stealing an idea from my friend Connor Schell (someone who’s stolen plenty of ideas from me over the years, so I don’t feel bad) and submitting the following choice: Alec Baldwin.
Winter is coming! But, you know, not for another week. So while our hearts yearn for Westeros, Chris and I are stuck in rural Georgia with the rest of the Mensa candidates fighting zombies on The Walking Dead (8:25). It was interesting to hear how Chris, normally a defender of all things violent and brainless, has turned on the stumbling biters. I'd give him a thumbs-up, but the Governor just bit mine clean off. Besides, I was too busy crying my emo eyes out over the dissolution of My Chemical Romance (21:30), one of the best rock bands of the last decade. It's tough out there for any band, but particularly so one as ambitious as MCR, a group never afraid to play make-believe or with makeup.
After I finished taking my SNL notes but before I sat down to write this recap, I decided to take the temperature on Justin Timberlake’s fifth ride on the host pony and check in with some of the other media responses to last weekend’s show. Despite theglowingtweets and my own enjoyment of this episode, some of the reviews were lukewarmat best.
Maybe people have reached the JT hype-saturation point? That’s understandable. I think that one of the reasons I loved this episode was the fact that Timberlake is the kind of performer you don’t have to worry about. As is the case with many vets, but particularly one who’s still in the golden career bubble of relevancy, you’re able to put aside any concerns about sweat stains, stutter fumbles, and any kind of projected post-one-a.m. anxiety attack that you imagine he or she will experience when thinking back on a particularly bad sketch. You can relax.
Earlier this week, word got out that NBC was preparing for a succession plan that would move Jay Leno out of The Tonight Show (uh, once again) and replace him with Jimmy Fallon. The question, then — well, one of the questions, once all the "Do we have the strength as a culture to go through another Late-Night War?" feelings were expressed — becomes who would replace Fallon on Late Night? Linda Stasi at the New York Post says NBC is thinking Howard Stern.
Stern stepped in as a judge on NBC's America's Got Talent last summer, to much fanfare, and according to the Post, it's all part of a strategy to make Stern palatable to TV viewers, in preparation for a move to something like Late Night.
First of all: We missed you, Don Pardo, and I really hope you’re recovering from your broken hip. I’d send you an edible arrangement of candied Z-Shirts if I could. Feel better.
I am familiar with Kevin Hart, and I like him. His energy and delivery have the effect of making me slowly scoot toward the edge of the sofa until I’m basically doing a wall squat. It’s as if he’s telling a particularly engaging story at a loud party, and during his monologue I was thinking that this episode was going to be something special.
My excitement for Christoph Waltz hosting SNL was tempered with some measure of fear because, as we all know, this season has been a little slumpy. Waltz is such a likable and accomplished performer that I felt concerned that the writing would fail him, that we’d watch him flailing around in a jokeless DJ Booth or helplessly stranded in The Situation Room, maybe wearing a large hat with a pair of deelyboppers on it. I would want to reach into my television and save him if it wasn’t working out. But that wasn’t the case. Maybe because of Djesus Uncrossed, maybe because of Waltz pulling off a jaunty dance while begging “Mama let me fly,” or just maybe because of seeing one of my former SNL character nemeses, Regine, get accidentally doused with a glass of what I hope was SUPER chilly white wine, this episode was probably my favorite of the season.
A bunch of pre-teenagers and pre-teenagers-at-heart got to stay up past their bedtimes on Saturday to scream swoonily for Justin Bieber. I know this because I could hear them in the audience. Fans waited in line in the blizzard to get tickets for the show, attempting (and failing) to complete their homework, only vacating their spots in queue if their lives were endangered by frostbite (“We weren’t going to die for Bieber,” said one. “We’re not die-hard fans, literally.”) Justin ordered them pizzas and SNL doled out hot soup so that they might live to see the legal drinking age. I guess that’s pretttty cool, it’s pretttttty cool. The host was a good sport and, despite its lackluster cold open, I liked this episode overall. The best sketch may have only featured Bieber peripherally (The Moroccans of Mulholland Drive), but from singing about searching for sweater puppies (the live kind) to taking on a Californian, the 18-year-old pulled double duty better than I anticipated.
Look: This past SNL might not be one for the books or anything, but it beat the daylights out of the previous one, so let’s just drink to that for now. Adam Levine co-hosted with a set of cue cards that — when they weren’t being reflected in windows during a Catfish parody or casting distracting shadows while Train and Maroon 5 faced off — sent the script waltzing across the limpid pools of Levine’s eyes as he read (a fellow Grantlander called it “Phelpsian”). That’s OK with me, though, because the energy was up and the material was pretty decent. I was sort of into it! Do you disagree? You probably disagree. But see here: “The Sopranos Diaries” could have been written in Swahili and I still would have laughed at Moynihan’s teenage Tony and Armisen’s Paulie Walnuts (even though I’d probably have cast him as Silvio Dante).
OK. You know when you’re having a really brutal week at work — you’re up late like a little tension fossil at night, you’re phoning it in a little bit in the office, you’re clean out of ideas — and then Friday comes and you slay it? You really make Friday your bitch, you punch it right in the eye? And that weekend you congratulate yourself by slamming margaritas and thinking, “I needed this vacation! I’m totally invigorated! I’m going to go into the office on Monday and punch my job in both eyes, then spit in my job’s eye! I’m back, baby!” But then Monday morning arrives and you have a hangover and you realize that you should have spent your vacation sleeping in a bathtub filled with restorative sea salts and drinking $45 pressed juices because last Friday was but a hiccup in your existential rut? Well. Here we are. It’s Monday.
I couldn’t write hilarious sketches week after week, and so I hate to criticize people or group entities whose jobs are more difficult than mine. But my job involves being honest about laughing or not laughing at Saturday Night Live, and I do it somewhat reluctantly when I am stonily wondering if a Starbucks Verismo parody is racist, or repeatedly saying to no one “That’s it?” at a strangely brief "Weekend Update" or the stalled car “Top Dog Chef.” Jennifer Lawrence: Girl, it wasn’t you.
I don’t know where this phrase came from, but along the lines of family nicknames for pacifiers and variations on spaghetti with leftovers in it, I grew up with the line “lose your bones.” It didn’t mean osteoporosis; that would have been sad. It was used as a sort of catchall for a mixture of punchy and silly feelings, like when you’re stuck in a stalled elevator and “Muskrat Love” comes on twice in a row, or when you’re eating dinner and you can hear someone’s dentures clicking and you look down and your slippery shrimp suddenly seems way too slippery and almost grotesque. You get the giggles against your will. In an SNL context it’s a pleasurable sensation: Stefon’s visits are bone thieves, and so was Louis C.K.’s “Last Call” and many of the assorted oddities (thanks, Twitter, for reminding me) of the past 38 seasons. I had big hopes for Jamie Foxx’s gig this past weekend, I really did. I wanted to hold on to my bones as they became long, white, quivery milkshakes; unfortunately, the first half of the show was a disappointment, and I was kind of considering calling in sleepy on this recap because things weren’t looking too good. It wasn’t Foxx’s fault, and I was actually impressed by the fact that he was featured so prominently (in "Weekend Update" and pre-recorded shorts as well as sketches): The fault lies somewhere between “Bitch, What’s the Answer?” and Mrs. Claus on "Update." I know a lot of you liked Mrs. Claus, but I got stuck on “milkfarts” and my face got stuck like this. I’m glad I kept watching, though, because there were some good sketches late in the game (“Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney,” Swarovski crystals hawked by hard-living former porn stars, and the bizarre Maine bayou courtroom hybrid). Plus Foxx as an angry Ding Dong (“you can call me Dong”). Djing Djong unchained!
Since SNL announced that it will occasionally be crowd-sourcing host and musical guest suggestions — and since the first Host of the People (if you don’t count the Betty White campaign), Louis CK, had such a good turn — I’ve been brainstorming my short list of candidates for 2013. Jamie Foxx will host next week with Ne-Yo, and Martin Short and Paul McCartney are up on the 15th; after that, it’s up to America (well, sometimes). And I don’t trust America. America is too hung up on ska right now, and I see a lone wolf in the pack of commenters calling out for Eric Dane to host. What if that person has a high Klout score? I’m afraid of Americans. I’m afraid of the world. Trust no one. Except me. Trust me. Here is my SNL host/musical guest omakase: