Since not even NBC is crazy enough to stay out of the Tina Fey business for too long, the Peacock has ordered 13 episodes of a sitcom that Fey and her 30 Rock co-executive producer Robert Carlock will write and produce together. Ellie Kemper will star as a woman who “escapes from a doomsday cult and starts life over in New York City.” On the one hand, it's NYC again. Buuuttt ... Erin from The Office blundering into the big city could be fun! The show will debut next fall, right around the time people are celebrating the eight-month anniversary of Fey's second time nailing the Golden Globes alongside Amy Poehler.
Finally, a trilogy everyone actually wants to see. (If this doesn't sound like you, please locate the X on your browser and click it. Or just grab a Sharpie and mark a fat X over your screen — that will also work.) Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, humor empresses and superlative Neil Patrick Harris hecklers ("Yo, NPH, take those pants off, America wants to see what you're workin' with!"), will return to host the Golden Globe Awards not just next year, but even the year after. The BFFs, who totally need their own celebrity portmanteau (is there one already going around? Is it Tinamy? Fehler? Amina Poehley?), brought 19.7 million viewers to the NBC telecast this past January, a six-year high for the show; there was also a 28 percent increase in the 18-to-49 demo. Meaning that, yes, signing Poehler and Fey for two more years was what they in the biz call "a no-brainer." (Surprisingly rare, though. Ricky Gervais hosted three straight years starting in 2010, but each uncomfortable performance was followed by waves of "he probably won't be back"/"I'm not coming back" chatter.) Folks — millions of 'em — will tune in for the next two Januarys with purpose, vigor, and high, boozy expectations.
Saturday Night Live has died and been reborn more than a handful of times over the ages, and there's no doubt that this season is a "rebuilding year," as the premiere's spirit guide and host, Tina Fey, suggested. Over the past two seasons, the show has bid good-bye to Andy Samberg, Kristin Wiig, Abby Elliott, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen (plus last year's newbie Tim Robinson, who has been bumped from featured player to staff writer, and Seth Meyers, who exits in February). The amount of concern this causes you is probably largely based on how familiar you are with the results of past recasting adventures and how dedicated you are to staying up to speed on fake commercials. We have witnessed disastrous eras over the course of SNL’s long history: This vintage New York magazine feature paints a very severe and depressing portrait of the 1994-95 period, another transitional year, which player Janeane Garofalo called "the most miserable experience of [her] life."
The announcement of this season's six new cast members was met with some frustration — again, SNL had shied away from plugging any diversity into its universe, adding five white men and one lone white woman to its roster. Maybe this was an honest assessment of the talent base (somehow I doubt it), maybe it has to do with Lorne Michaels's mysterious star radar, or maybe it's just plain lame. To be fair, the rookies performed well (when they were allowed to), with a negligible amount of visible jangled nerves. When an episode decides to highlight Michelle Obama or Kim Jong-un in a skit, though, I'm going to shred it. J-Pop America Funtime is over.
There is an indie act called Islands; they just put out an album Pitchfork finds kind of OK. Commemorating the occasion, though, is an improv-heavy YouTube clip about Islands' dubious rock-and-roll legend status. Michael Cera says things like, "They're all basically conductors, electrical conductors, and sometimes you can't even give those guys a high five without getting a little zap." Bill Hader, in top Bill Hader form, comes up with material like, "You've got a guy with a voice, who's saying lyrics, out to you." Alia Shawkat and Joe Lo Truglio also jump in, to delightful effect. Still haven't listened to Islands, but if Ski Mask is half as funny as this clip, I'm giving it a spin.
Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones Split Up: Michael Douglas and his children Dylan and Carys were spotted at the Quebec resort town Mont Temblant. "It looked like another picture-perfect vacation for the Douglas clan — except one person was missing: Michael's wife and Dylan and Carys's mom, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones." CZJ was "seen grocery shopping and browsing a nearby consignment boutique with her mom" back in Bedford, New York. "She seemed a little down." The reasons for the split remain secret so far. "Only the couple's closest friends know exactly why they weren't together. After nearly 13 years of marriage, Douglas, 68, and Zeta-Jones, 43, one of Hollywood's most powerful and admired couples, have decided to spend time apart," as confirmed to People magazine. "Michael and Catherine love each other very much, but they're taking a break. Neither has made a move towards a legal separation or divorce. No legal people are involved whatsoever."
Yesterday, we began our links by chastising the Internet for all it's done to impair our enjoyment of all other sacred media, so today let's kiss and make nice. Go ahead and adjust your VCR tracking so as best to enjoy this guide to the Internet for kids, a nice 1997 vintage with a fizzy body and notes of apple and those deliciously long '90s mom-skirts. Your trusty guides, the Jamison family, have just discovered the Web and its "whole world of exciting new possibilities," like e-mailing President Clinton and futzing around with Netscape Navigator. Check out those sick "chat lines"! A/S/L? Actually, '97 kids, maybe just go back to watching Kenan & Kel for the next few years and check back when you're not so abductable.
Or, in less histrionic terms, B.J. Novak got a book deal.
As the New York Times reports, Novak has signed a two-book deal with Knopf worth seven figures, with the first book — a collection of stories — due in 2014. NBD, though, cause it's already been written. Says Novak's agent Richard Abate, "The closest analogy for me is Woody Allen. Underneath these stories is a real intellectual curiosity. I think their appeal is that they’re incredibly accessible and comic, but at the same time they’re exploring the modern condition." And if you've caught Novak live, you may have gotten yourself a sneak preview. THR says the stories will be adapted from "a series of live shows he performed at Upright Citizens Brigade." They also point out that Novak's deal gives a masculine spin to the recent trend of high-profile book projects from funny people, which includes Abate's clients Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey, plus upcoming joints from Amy Poehler and Lena "The $3.5 Million Woman" Dunham.
I remember hearing Tina Fey say something along the lines that the reason she didn't stand on camera side-by-side with Sarah Palin when the esteemed former governor appeared on Saturday Night Live was that she knew that one photo — Tina as Palin, with Palin as Palin — would be the one they'd use for her obituary. But in the nearly five years since she was trotting out the impersonation on the regs, the Tina/Sarah connection has died down to the point where, when James Lipton asked her on Inside the Actors Studio to revive the ol' gal, Fey was actually down. Lipton interviewed Fey in character for a few minutes, and almost got aggy a couple of times. (Let it be known that James Lipton does not abide Sarah Palin-via-Tina Fey's political opinions!) Meanwhile, Fey played ball superbly, improv-ing perfectly daffy answers. On gun control: "I believe that if everybody had guns, then there would be fewer guns in the stores." On same-sex marriage: "Well, the Bible says it's gross." Yeah, Tina Fey probably just opened herself up to six more months of people coming up to her at parties and asking for a "You betcha!" But it was worth it.
This is the full text of an article that was posted by E! Online today. It was accompanied by a picture of Taylor Swift making her way out of a vehicle. (Interpretive annotations are my own.)
Taylor Swift was spotted in Los Angeles on Wednesday as she made her way out of a vehicle. [Tell me more!]
Casually dressed [in a transparent effort to spite her tormentors], the country cutie stepped out on the same day [coincidence!?!?!?!?] that Tina Fey told a photographer to “go f--k yourself" [So not casual of her!] when asked about Swift's remark that she and Amy Poehler are destined for Hades. [Do you like how relevant these details are to Taylor getting out of that car?]
Here is a crowd-sourced Dunder Mifflin ad that will air during the Super Bowl in Scranton, and only in Scranton.
• Oh, and hey guys, got any hot sexy plans this weekend? Maybe gonna eat some poached veal with Larry King? Wear something trampy on your date with a pickup artist skeeve in a rape van? No? You could always try this online dating service that uses humans instead of algorithms if you’re interested in capturing the sensation of being set up by your “fabulous, drunk aunt.” Or you could save the $99 and just ask your own fabulous, drunk aunt for the hookup. Fabulous, drunk aunts have been making it happen since two-thousand-never.
The cult of TV brilliance, like a runner on third with less than two outs, demands sacrifice. What unites classic, obsessed-over shows like Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, and Arrested Development isn't just their sparkling dialogue; it's their martyrdom. All three were shows that had plenty of time to be great but not nearly enough to disappoint. The unrealized promise of all the jokes and seasons we, as fans, were denied helps prop up the legend and maintain the purity of the sect. It's not enough to love the episodes we did get; one must also burn with resentment for all the ones we were denied. Like James Dean, Kurt Cobain, or Four Loko, the most fiercely beloved TV shows tend to be the ones that died too soon.
But not 30 Rock. Despite ticking all the boxes for early cancellation — too smart, too funny, too New York (at least it wasn't burdened with Justin Bartha) — 30 Rock is the rare cult show that survived. No — it thrived. For seven seasons it churned out brilliant jokes with the efficacy and precision of a finely calibrated fart machine. It invented holidays and catchphrases. It tangled bravely with race and ludicrously with celebrity. Snakes were tamed and sharks were loosed. Ghostface Killah rapped about muffins. Muppets sang at a funeral. At its worst it was good. At its best it was transcendent. It's not enough to say that 30 Rock didn't die. Its whole life was thunder.
In this golden age of television, there sometimes enters a character who shifts all former expectations; a small-screen presence who shines through the flimsy edifice we call a human body to reveal the truth: that we are just wriggling brain stems driven by our insane lusts. Television has long been supplanting the novel as the medium we turn to for long-form narrative investigations into public personas and true selves, and among its gallery of modern antiheroes, one complex yet subtle figure stands alone: Jenna Maroney. Jenna (pronounced Jenn-ahh) was 30 Rock's secret weapon in a show stocked with them. Jane Krakowski, formerly known best for playing ditzy Elaine on Ally McBeal, summoned everything from her lifetime walking the boards for her portrayal of Jenna: the ultimate actress.
On Sunday night, the Screen Actors Guild gathered its members at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium for its annual celebration of their shared craft, a delightful ceremony free of the annoying focus-pulling that plagues awards shows that insist on handing out statuettes to the unwashed masses who scratch out a living on the wrong side of the camera. Unfortunately, not every SAG Awards nominee gets to take home the coveted Actor, the highest honor thespians can receive from their brothers- and sisters-in-arms; for every five stars receiving the validation of a nomination, four will find themselves confronted with the challenge of making gritted teeth seem like a smile, and white-hot jealousy like warm magnanimity as the cameras mercilessly probe their reactions for any sign of disappointment. And so here we are, the morning after the Saggies (they don't call them the Saggies, but they should), to relive last night's victories through the faces of the defeated. When you're this good at your job, you can make misery look a lot like triumph. Well, most of the time.
After seven years, several serious-ish boyfriends, and countless offscreen episodes of TGS, Liz Lemon is a married woman. Last week's 30 Rock saw Liz making it legal with handsome slacker boyfriend Criss Chros (James Marsden). Liz eschewed her original plan to elope in sweats at City Hall in favor of a more formal event, replete with Tony Bennett and a Princess Leia bridal gown. You'll have to forgive me for replicating the famous Lemon eye-roll when I learned that Liz had secret white-wedding fantasies concealed under all her anti-romance bluster. It was somewhat trying to watch Liz realize that her tireless hatred of the culturally enforced marriage-industrial complex was a defensive reaction to her true heart's deepest wish, which just happened to be a ceremony like the ones on Bravo's Wedding Bitches. I found myself rooting for witness Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters) to pound on some glass and break up the wedding, The Graduate–style.