Are three crucial cast members splitting for the movies?
"Saturday Night Live" may be deadening next season, if there is truth to an US Weekly report that has Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis splitting for the movies. Two sources told the magazine that the three won't be back after their contracts expire at the end of this season.
"It will be a huge blow to the show," one source said. "Without Andy's video shorts and Kristen saving every skit, they'll need help."
The news comes a week after the announcement that the show plans to try out a new female cast member, Kate McKinnon, as a possible Wiig replacement.
In the wake of her "Bridesmaids" fame, Wiig's departure would hardly be shocking. But Samberg and Sudeikis still seem early boarders for the runaway-success train. (Samberg will next be seen playing second fiddle to Adam Sandler in "That's My Boy," coming out June 15; Sudeikis will be third-billed behind Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in "The Campaign," coming out Aug. 10.)
A "Saturday Night Live" rep told TVLine that "no decisions have been made and won't be until the end of summer."
"Saturday Night Live" airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Salem veterans return to take the reigns
Bing: More on "Days of Our Lives" | Watch full episodes and clips
"Thank you DOOL fans," Marlene McPherson tweeted Wednesday, April 4. "U r the best and we love you! NBC never let us tell our stories. They kept stopping us and changing our direction. Sad."
NBC hasn't responded to MSN TV's queries or released an official statement, but word is Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell have been tapped to assume the reigns, according to Soap Opera Network.
Tomlin and Whitesell, who were both with "Days of Our Lives" a year ago, are no strangers to Salem nor the soap world, and they've got the Daytime Emmys to prove it.
Tomlin got his start in daytime as an actor on "Search for Tomorrow" in 1973 and went on to write, producer and direct several soaps, winning a 2002 Best Drama Emmy for his executive producer stint at "One Life To Live." Most recently, he served as co-executive producer at "Days of Our Lives" from September, 2008 to June, 2011. In spite of being a fave among actors and having the rep of being a cost cutting pro, he was ousted as part of head honcho Ken Corday's overhaul last year. Tomlin also did time as "Days of our Lives" co-headwriter from 1980 to 1981, but his last stint as a headwriter was just a few months during the 2007-2008 WGA writers' strike, when he crossed the picket lines at “One Life to Live."
Like Tomlin, Whitesell has long history in soaps and was part of last year's Salem shakeup. He was fired from the position of co-headwriter a few months before Tomlin was let go. Whitesell got his start as a writer on "Guiding Light" and has gone on to serve as co-headwriter six times, earning four Daytime Emmys for his writing. For the last year, he's been writing breakdowns for “The Young and The Restless."
The early ratings are in, and it's a draw
Last week, "Good Morning America" and "Today" tied in overnight ratings. Monday's metered market results weren't much different. "Good Morning America" eked out a win with Couric at the table, but just barely. The lead over Vieira's return to "Today" was a mere one-tenth of a rating point and one share point in households (3.7 rating/13 share versus 3.6/12). The fast national ratings report tells a different story, however, with "Today" beating "GMA" by 333,000 viewers (5.113 versus 4.780 million) and 20 percent among key adults 25-54 (1.8 versus 1.5 rating).
In other words, neither "Good Morning America" nor "Today" can call Monday a clear win. "CBS this Morning" saw a small ratings bump with Oprah in the house, but was still left in the dust to take third.
Tuesday was the much-hyped Couric versus Palin match. Palin (above) took the win for "Today," but again, it was a ridiculously close race. This time, "Today" took the one-tenth of a household rating point lead, as well as the extra share point in households (4.0 rating/14 share to 3.9/13.0). The dueling divas tied in key women 25-54, each banking a 2.2/14.
"CBS this Morning" trailed again, with a 1.7/ 6 in households, a 0.4/ 3 in women 18-49 and a 0.6/ 4 among adults 25-54.
While it's clear "CBS this Morning" still isn't in this game, folks are also saying Couric and Palin didn't make a difference. One has to consider, however, whether those last minute host changes at "Today" accomplished the goal of killing Couric's mojo. Cancelling out a potential "GMA" power week would certainly constitute a win for "Today."
It also bares mention that Ryan Seacrest played a part in Tuesday's hype, but as MSN suspected, his big "Today" show announcement was not all that exciting: He'll be joining NBC's prime-time coverage of the Olympics in London.
Ratings source: TV Media Insights
"Today," "Good Morning America" and "CBS This Morning" air weekday mornings on NBC, ABC and CBS respectively.
Comedy icon returns with senior pranksters to deliver big laughs
Recently named the most liked Hollywood celebrity for the second straight year, seven-time Emmy Award winner Betty White brings her inimitable wit and charm to “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” which airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Fearless seniors target unsuspecting young “marks” with their irreverent behavior, from pouring a late spouse’s ashes on a favorite park bench or writing up tickets for absurd, made-up violations, to asking strangers to watch a runaway motorized scooter or pretending to see a dead person who appears all too real. Other pranks include asking strangers to text shockingly inappropriate messages, a man taking matters into his own hands when he needs a tooth extracted and a hung-over woman with a surprising occupation sharing far too much about her weekend in Las Vegas.
“Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Company to replace eco-network with patriotic-themed (i.e. food and travel) alternative
Veteran of 'St. Elsewhere,' 'Knight Rider' and 'Boy Meets World' to re-enter the emergency room
Nucky now thoroughly yucky
It looks like the Atlantic City branch of the Women's Temperance League won't be inviting Nucky Thompson to give another speech anytime soon. In a teaser for Season 3 of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," which opens fire this fall, Steve Buscemi's character seems to have broken completely bad.
At 27 seconds, it's even a tease for a teaser. But we see enough to learn that, along with his onetime protege (Michael Pitt's James Darmody), Thompson apparently also killed off his good side in last season's finale.
The teaser depicts Thompson's bootlegging colleagues (Arnold Rothstein, Chalky White, Lucky Luciano) in stark black-and-white. And this is apparently how Thompson -- now freed from pretending to be a public official -- sees them when ordering a bullet placed in someone's head. (It's a good bet it's not Rothstein or Luciano, since the show respects the rule of not rewriting history by killing off real-life characters.)
Check it out yourself:Season 3 of "Boardwalk Empire" returns this fall on HBO.
Jessica St. Clair, Lennon Parham and Fred Savage take on the original love triangle
By Deanna Barnert
Special to MSN TV
NBC's new comedy "Best Friends Forever" takes on the oldest love triangle in history: A woman, her man and her BFF. MSN TV has the early online premiere of the series about a couple and two fresbians trying to exist in the same Brooklyn apartment; along with dish from creators Jessica St. Clair (“Bridesmaids") and Lennon Parham (“Accidentally on Purpose') and their director, Fred Savage.
"'Best Friends Forever' is about the romantic relationship women have with their best friends," sets up St. Clair. "Someone gave us the word 'Fresbians': Friends so close that they should be having sex, but they're not. These two lived together since college. Then three years ago, I met a man nobody cared for, married him and moved to San Francisco. The pilot begins with me getting FedExed divorce papers."
Jessica (St. Clair) is shell-shocked by the delivery, so her BFF Lennon (Parham) immediately flies her back to the Brooklyn apartment they used to share. It's not, however, the bachelorette pad Jessica remembers: Lennon has finally landed herself a man (Luka Jones).
"Probably because she is no longer having to take care of Jess," Parham reflects. "She had room in her life and he swooped in."
Jessica's arrival shakes up the rhythm Lennon and Joe have found together, while thrusting Lennon into a precarious balancing act. "Usually, by the time you're living with a man, your best friend is not in your business," Parham pans.
The adjustment won't be easy for Joe, either. Not only does he have to share his girl and his home, but the video game designer is suddenly privy to a world he never knew existed. With the BFF's breaking out into "Steel Magnolias" reenactments, "It's Raining Men" dance routines and surprisingly dirty sex talk, he's being exposed to what St. Clair calls "girl porn."
"Joe is like a Jane Goodall watching the primates," St. Clair laughs. "One of our guy friends was like, 'Is this what you guys are really like behind closed doors? It's like you're aliens!'"
Single guys who've never played the monogamy game may not recognize the dynamics at play here, but director/exec producer Fred Savage immediately responded to it. "I understand Joe and relate to the friendship between the girls and how the guy has to find his place in there," Savage shared. "It speaks to my experiences. My wife has a best friend, who I joke is my second wife. It's the three of us in this relationship, has been since we started dating and will be forever."
"Best Friends Forever" may start with the girls, but offers something for male viewers, beyond the busty heroine in Joe's video game.
"We have Fred and a writers' room that is almost exclusively men, besides our showrunner (Alexa Junge)," St. Clair reveals. "We did that on purpose, because we knew there would be no end of female stuff coming from us, but we need [the guy stuff too]. We wrote some romantic scenes and a couple of our guy writers said, 'Absolutely not. A guy would never be so vulnerable. He would never say it first.' Is this why you guys all die younger than us?"
"There's a lot of cooks, but the collaboration is very organic," Savage adds. "The girls will tell me to eff of as often as I'll tell them. It's a very comfortable relationship. But at the end of the day, it's their show and their vision. The crew, the exec producers and everyone else is here to help service that."
St. Clair and Parham have a very specific vision. The duo, who met at the Upright Citizen's Brigade ten years ago, hasn't had trouble landing roles. They've been frustrated, however, by the stereotypes and unreal friendship scenarios they've found themselves playing.
"The bitch, the weirdo and the nice girl are not usually friends," notes St. Clair, who's played plenty of bitches. "I wanted to do a show about two real friends who stick up for each other. That doesn't have to be cheesy. It can just be wildly funny. It doesn't have to be snippy, either. We get in fights in the show, because girlfriends get in fights, but at the end of the day, it's all about love."
"Best Friends Forever" aims to bring viewers real, funny moments -- or rather, St. Clair and Parham's improv sessions about real moments, which are taped, transcribed and turned into scripts. "That means Lennon has to be all the men in my life," St. Clair says. "She has to play my ex husband and my current love interest. It gets really heated and steamy. She says things to me that no man has ever said to me, but I wish in my dreams they had."
Those things don't always make it into the final cut, of course. Remember, there's a team of guys making sure of that.
The collaborative vibe at "Best Friends Forever" is reflective of the cast's UCB background, but also stems from the show being NBC's little engine that could. They only had $500,000 to shoot their pilot, as opposed to millions, and haven't gotten the press push of, for example, a series like "Smash."
"We feel like the indie stepchild at NBC," Parham quipped, but she's not complaining. In fact, she still cries in production meetings over the opportunity they've been given.
Savage adds that the low budget helped them create the look and feel they wanted for the show. While he's not prone to tears, the child actor turned prolific TV director is clearly in love with his new show. "The fact that we were able to take this underdog, off-the-radar pilot from nothing and now we're on-air is incredible exciting," he says.
"We just hope people find it, especially women," St. Clair concludes.
"Best Friends Forever" premieres Wednesday, April 4, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.