Saturday Night Live Season Opens with Guest Hillary Clinton

Miley Cyrus Hosts Hilarious Season Premiere Episode

miley cyrus snlOn Saturday night, October 3, 2015, the forty-first season of Saturday Night Live debuted on NBC. This comedy sketch series has been running since its premiere in October 1975, originally created by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. Lorne Michaels still runs the show today, having only taken a brief hiatus from 1980 to 1985. The season is directed by Don Roy King, as it has been since 2006. In the debut episode, the host and musical guest was Miley Cyrus, the 22 year-old Disney teen idol turned avant garde, irreverent pop star. Miley was hilarious in her comedic performances, introducing the show with her husky confident voice. She also performed three musical numbers, all slow paced and accentuated by extravagant costumes. For instance, for one number she wore a gigantic blond wig of dread locks, and her mic stand was also dressed in the same hair. In another number, she played the grand piano which was dressed in as outrageous an outfit as she was. She opened the show making a self-congratulatory remark about her short-term memory problems due to drug use, fulfilling her own reputation as a wild child. However, overall she came off as ebullient and exceedingly happy, fitting right in among the comedic experts in the scenes, and performing her songs with gusto.

A Political Emphasis with Guest Appearance by Hillary Clintonhillary clinton snl

The show opened with an SNL performer playing Donald Trump, and another playing his wife Melania. They poked fun at many of Trump’s ridiculous behaviors, including his attitude towards women, his stance on immigration, and his success in the polls due to extreme statements. However, the main political guest of the evening was certainly Hillary Clinton. SNL took no pains to hide the fact that they support the candidate and believe she has an exceedingly good chance of winning the presidency. On the other hand, they made fun of all the Republican candidates through a spoof commercial on a pharmaceutical drug that gives the Republicans a dose of reality, allowing them to realize they were crazy to think they could ever be president. In Hillary’s cameo, the camera begins solely on her doppleganger, SNL regular Kate McKinnon who has been playing Hillary for a long time. Previously, Amy Poehler portrayed Hillary in a more sympathetic way. Nevertheless, the interaction between McKinnon and Clinton was more than congenial; it rang of true friendship and mutual appreciation. In the scene, McKinnon plays Clinton at a bar ready for a stiff drink. When the bartender turns around, she is none other than Hillary Clinton herself. The material barely entered controversial territory, as Clinton’s media team must have had approval over the script. Rather, the scene succeeded in portraying Clinton as very human and with a great sense of humor, at a time when her public image needs it.

Ratings at a High; Future Episodes Hosted by Amy Schumer and Tracy Morgan

For the first episode of the forty-first season, ratings were up by 13% from the premiere episode of the fortieth season one year ago, which featured Chris Pratt and Ariana Grande. This is the highest rating for an episode of SNL since last January. As for the show’s key demographic, adults aged 18 to 49, the ratings were just slightly down from last year’s premiere. Next week’s episode will be hosted by Amy Schumer, who is having an amazing year between her feature film Trainwreck and her successful Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer. The week after that will be hosted by Tracy Morgan, formerly of the television show 30 Rock. These comedians are sure to draw further ratings boosts, as the show makes efforts to maintain their audience through a more attractive timeslot, a more racially diverse cast, and a continually hilarious way of keeping their finger on the pulse of current and political events.

Trevor Noah Debuts As New Host of “The Daily Show”

South African Comedian Fairly Successful in Continuing Jon Stewart’s Legacy

trevor noahOn Monday night, September 28, 2015, Trevor Noah premiered his first episode as host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Taking over from universally beloved Jon Stewart, who had held the position for over 15 years, Trevor Noah had gigantic shoes to fill. There has been much anticipation over whether Noah would succeed as Stewart’s successor, and this cannot be completely discerned from the first episode. Still, his debut was largely positive, and most reviewers have high hopes for what is to come. Since Stewart’s last show on August 6, 2015, the month and a half hiatus has allowed fans far and wide to speculate on the merits of the network’s choice of Noah as the following host. Stewart established a very specific tone for The Daily Show, which Trevor Noah is adept at continuing. Still, credit is not completely due to Noah alone, as the machine of The Daily Show writers has remained largely intact, which is very skilled at digesting the daily news from around the world and coming up with comedic commentary to distill into the show’s segments. As an example of the machine’s ability to function independent of the host in the seat, when Jon Stewart took off time to direct a feature film, Rosewater, John Oliver took over and was able to continue unscathed. It was only when Oliver debuted his own HBO show Last Week Tonight that his own voice became distinct and separate from The Daily Show tone.

Reverence, No Fear of Racial Comedy, and Bafflement with Americatrevor noah

Though Trevor Noah largely continued Jon Stewart’s format and political material, there were some distinct differences. First of all, Noah was reverent towards Stewart as his predecessor. In the opening, he paid tribute to his mentor with almost too much sincerity for a comedy show, but then lightened the move with a very funny joke: he said that it’s like Jon Stewart was the father of late night television, and now there’s a new stepfather. “And he’s black, which is not ideal.” This joke went over very well, and also shows that Trevor Noah, as a South African born man and one of only two non-white late night hosts (the other being Larry Wilmore, formerly of The Daily Show staff), he is not afraid to address the topic of race in a comedic way. This was often a criticism of Stewart’s tenure, that he shied away from addressing racial topics head-on. However, as a black man, Noah can do so with less controversy. Another unique aspect of Noah’s demographic is his international background; he was born in South Africa. This makes him one of only two late night hosts who was not born in the United States, the other being the previously mentioned John Oliver, now with his own show Last Week Tonight, who is also formerly of The Daily Show staff. This will allow Noah to bring a global awareness to the American television watching public that is not often seen. One joke he made was that when he was a little boy in South Africa, there were two things he never expected: one was to have an indoor toilet, and the other was to be a host of The Daily Show, and that he is now very comfortable with one of them. This also received a giant laugh.

His Legacy Remains to be Seen

With just one show under his belt, it remains to be seen exactly what type of Daily Show host Trevor Noah will turn out to be. In his interview with the actor Kevin Hart, Hart did most of the talking and Noah mostly laughed good naturedly. Still, he has plenty of time to come out of his shell. He made some jokes that might have caused Jon Stewart to cringe, such as a pun about AIDS and aides, and also a not very sensitive reference to Whitney Houston and drug use. Still, to be a successful host, he must not just give America what it wants, but also give us what we don’t know we need.

Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris Debuts on NBC

At 10PM EST on September 15, 2015, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris debuted on NBC. Best Time Ever is a live variety television show developed in the style of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, a British TV show that has been airing on the British channel ITV since 2002 where it achieved high very high ratings throughout its broadcast seasons. The new NBC show is a wacky and versatile take on the format and takes full advantage of the diverse talents of the host, Neil Patrick Harris. The show features A-list stars, performances, stunts, comedy skits, mini game shows, audience giveaways and hidden camera pranks.

Not unlike SNL’s first ever episode, Best Time Ever got off to slow start in its debut show, probably owing to tense nerves for the brand new, live, network TV show, but it wasn’t long before Neil Patrick Harris got everyone settled in and the show began ratcheting up the laughs. From this point forward, we will refer to Neil Patrick Harris as NPH and Best Time Ever as BTE, because without the acronyms, things can get a little wild, just like the show.

neil patrick harris in blue suit next to nicole scherzinger in green sparkly dressGuest Announcer Reese Witherspoon and Show Co-Host Nicole Scherzinger

Reese Witherspoon was the guest announcer for the debut show. Although it seemed that she wasn’t fully utilized, she still added some great fun moments to the show. Her announcing was hysterical and her involvement with the segments on the show were quite amusing. Unfortunately, in one segment, Witherspoon chose to do some rather lame comedy repartee bits with NPH that portrayed her as the “dumb blonde,” which seemed dated and totally missed the comedy mark. But she made up for it in her go-girl attitude when climbing up the massive American Ninja climbing frame, despite being visibly shaken by its height. Witherspoon missed many opportunites to be humorous on the show, but she is, after all, an accomplished actor and producer, not a comedian.

NPH’s official co-host was former Pussycat Doll, recording artist and dancer, Nicole Scherzinger. Nicole was dazzlingly gorgeous but her co-hosting ability took a back seat because the two-host format developed by Ant and Dec for the UK show did not take into account the powerhouse entertainer that is NPH. Harris has so much stage talent, such that he doesn’t really need anyone else to ad-lib or fill-in for him. When he can do everything on the show so well already, why divide the responsibility?

Neil Patrick Harris Provides Lots Of Entertaining Segments

In a segment called The Best Days of Your Life Neil brought up a couple from the audience as a segue from flirting with some audience members and asked some random questions (a play-off of the original British show Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway). He showed clips of stalking them across the country, even at their wedding! Because he’s the fun-loving Neil Patrick Harris, he gets away with it, with many great laughs.

Carson Daly was brought on as a guest to promote NBC’s The Voice and to talk about a hilarious skit where Neil went undercover on the TV show as an Austrian host of the Austrian version of The Voice. The hosts Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine had no idea this awkward foreign guy was actually Neil Patrick Harris in the flesh. Neil made his reveal on The Voice stage as he sang Dreamgirls’ “And I am Telling You,” in a flat, thick German accent. Hilariously, no judge turned around for him.

stunt with reese witherspoon and neil patrick harris on latter red and blue jumpsuits

Neil Patrick Harris and Reese Witherspoon

The surprise live karaoke segment, “Sing-Along Live” was clearly a total shock to the contestants, who at each reveal gave a deer-in-the-headlights look at their TV, not understanding what was going on, creating comedy gold. Kudos to the BTE production team, which managed to keep the contestants in the dark until the reveal. It’s a risky gambit for NBC to broadcast this show without a tape delay, but boy is it entertaining for the in-studio and TV audiences.

The fear during the stunt Reese and Neil pulled off together was felt both in the studio and throughout the nation. Everyone held their breaths until they both zip-lined down from that terrifying lattice, the in-studio audience cheered loudly for the champ, Neil, but were scared for the visibly shaken Witherspoon.

Gloria Gaynor Shines As First “Sing-Along Live” Surprise Guest

On BTE’s premiere night, 70’s disco queen, Gloria Gaynor was the singing star that appeared in the “Sing-Along Live” segment where some surprised viewers at home had to finish the song, where she left off. Gaynor belted out her female empowerment anthem “I Will Survive” to a raucous reception. Gaynor showed that she is still a powerhouse singer and can hit the high notes. Ricky Martin is anticipated to appear in the show’s first season.

best time ever end of the show showThe End-of-The-Show, Show

The intense stunt wasn’t the only moment where Harris showed off his brave talents. NPH ended the show with a bang, with a segment named The End-of-the-Show show. The stage was set up with Little NPH and Gloria Gaynor sitting at a bar. There were bartenders juggling bottles, then Neil popped up and started juggling along with them. Ant and Dec were also hanging out and having a beer. To up the ante, Neil brought out extreme pogo-stick riders and joined them and back flipped off his pogo-stick as Reese came downstage to join the party to the tune of Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop The Party.” But it wasn’t over! There was a huge blast of confetti while Little NPH got up on the bar and lip-synced, doing a little dance. After a parade of trumpets and drums. Scherzinger strut her stuff with dancers! This big finale was just a big giant party and had the audience on their feet dancing and screaming for more of everything! This is sure to be a very exciting season of Best Time Ever and will be a front-runner for ratings this fall, assuming that NPH can keep the momentum building.

Off Camera Hi-Jinks

Off-camera, NPH made the audience feel very comfortable, joked and often took the mic away from the warm-up comedian RC Smith who was trying his best to interact with the audience. After the show ended, Neil hugged his husband, David Burtka in celebration and quickly chatted to Perez Hilton, who was also in the audience. For full disclosure, not every moment was live last night. There were a few pre-recorded portions of the show, but both the in-studio and at-home audience felt the exciting and spontaneous elements of the entire hour, which ripped through at a rapid pace.

In Studio Audience Experience Different From TV

During the taping (can you say that when it is live?), the show pace appeared to be just-too-much for the director, Glenn Weiss, to handle. Weiss has previous live TV experience with Peter Pan Live and the 67th Annual Tony Awards, but on this show he missed many on-camera jokes that the live studio audience laughed at and the at-home TV audience missed  – and were then left scratching their heads wondering what was going on. This happened with all three live Karoake contests, where the cut-away was too soon. Weiss also missed NPH’s zipline crash through the finish line banner. All these scenes were missed by the at-home viewers but seen by the studio audience who reacted accordingly with laughs and clapping. When Gloria Gaynor belted out “I Will Survive” with the background dancers and a roller-skating couple, key elements of the segment were also missed. It is anticipated that adjustments will be made to the production that allows for these comedy-gold moments to be captured more appropriately. It would have also been nice to see an unannounced audio cut to Reese Witherspoon actually singing the Gloria Gaynor song, “I Will Survive” (she sounded great to the in-studio audience, but her was audio cut) or incorporating her into the quiz show segment, where she could have mimed the answers to the contestant, which could have been hilarious.

Show Broadcast Live From Kaufman Astoria Studios ineil patrick harris in front of Kaufman Astoria Studiosn Queens, New York

Best Time Ever with NPH is taped at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria, NY. This area is a strange location for a TV show of this magnitude, but it works! If the in-studio audience is driving to the show, parking is easy to find and if they use public transportation, the subway is just a couple blocks away. The audience seemed at home in this neighborhood and after the show, although late at night, the streets were still safe. Aside from this, restaurants like UNO bar, Beer Garden and the locals’ favorite: Mama’s Empanadas are near and open, so after the show, the audience and crew found some good late night eats!

Harris recently starred on Broadway in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. He is also very well known for his television starring roles in such shows as How I Met Your Mother from 2005 to 2014, and Doogie Howser, M.D. from 1989 to 1993. He has won 5 Emmy Awards for his work hosting the Tony Awards, and for his work on “Glee.” He has also been nominated for his role on “How I Met Your Mother. In Best Time Ever, one of the many aspects of the show is song and dance, allowing Harris to demonstrate his charm in a musical fashion. Furthermore, the segments include game show bits, character impersonations, A-list celebrity appearances, stunts, performances, pranks, and audience giveaways.

Show Ratings and Demographic

For BTE’s debut episode, the preliminary ratings showed that 6.8 million viewers of adults aged 18 to 49 tuned in to see Harris’ premiere. The studio audience demographic skewed older than the at-home viewers and the curve for 18-45 years old was bottom heavy, which is a positive for advertisers.

Promotion Of NBC’s Other Shows on BTE

NBC Executives must have pushed the producers to promote other NBC shows in the debut of NPH’s BTE. The Voice featured heavily in the undercover segment featuring a fake Austrian The Voice host, Jurgen Vollmer (actually NPH) and the American Ninja host Matt Iseman. The American Ninja apparatus into which NPH and Witherspoon so courageously climbed in the second segment promoted NBC’s American Ninja TV Show. The demographic of these other shows skew quite differently to BTE, as does the lead-in to the show, America’s Got Talent, whose demographic is wildly different. NBC’s current stable of shows seem to be all over the shop, in terms of demographic.

Comparison To Fox’s Knock Knock Live:

Best Time Ever is the live TV show format that the upstart-challenger on the Fox channel, in the form of Ryan Seacrest’s Knock Knock Live, tried to achieve in July 2015. In a bid to steal the format from NBC, Seacrest’s show failed miserably and was cancelled after only two shows due to low ratings, even with the endorsement and participation of big celebrities and large amounts of money being given away. The problem with that format was that there was no real entertainment value, other than rather boring back-stories, that Seacrest gambled on and lost. BTE, on the other hand, was entertaining from start to finish. No need for back-stories here, this is fun!

Tuesday Live Shows For The Next 8 weeks

Neil Patrick Harris’ Best Time Ever is scheduled to broadcast on NBC for the next seven weeks and they will try to raise the ante on each show. The out-of-the-gate momentum is strong, and the show will move to an earlier time slot at 8PM beginning on 9/29. The new time slot will change the viewer demographic considerably and may mean an increase in the market penetration, for this funny and irreverent vehicle for Neil Patrick Harris’ talents.

Jimmy Kimmel to Broadcast from Brooklyn for One Week

Taking New York By Storm While Competitors Are On Hiatus

jimmy kimmel liveIn the week of October 19, 2015, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! will produce five episodes from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in Brooklyn, New York. The show generally films in Hollywood, California at the Hollywood Masonic Temple. However, Jimmy Kimmel is taking his show on the road in order to compete with his major rivals, who both shoot their late night shows in New York: Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon. The former, Stephen Colbert, recently debuted his new job as David Letterman’s successor in The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS, and Jimmy Fallon is always a viewer favorite on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on NBC. However, ABC’s late night offering, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, is losing some of the spotlight with all of the happenings in New York. It is for this reason that Jimmy Kimmel has decided to come to New York for a week of shows. Whereas the show usually films just four episodes in a week, this special on the road series will feature five episodes. The timing of the week of October 19th was specifically chosen because both Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon will be on hiatus, allowing the entire focus of viewership to be centered on Jimmy Kimmel’s New York sojourn.

Jimmy Kimmel Does Well With On the Road Segmentsjimmy kimmel live

The last time Jimmy Kimmel did a major on the road piece was in March in Austin during the SXSW Festival. During that time, Kimmel saw a major increase in ratings compared to the previous weeks. Specifically, he brought in 2.830 million viewers in comparison to 2.744 million the week before that. Furthermore, his demographic statistics also increased from 0.73 the week before to 0.76 during the Austin special. Those numbers were his best statistics since the previous November. Simultaneously, Kimmel was then featured in Esquire Magazine as “Mr. James Kimmel, Troublemaker,” which added to the positive buzz around him at the time. Still, it can be said that Jimmy Kimmel does very well while on the road, with viewers tuning in for the change of scenery for his show. Therefore, the upcoming Brooklyn week is sure to attract a lot of attention, especially as both Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon will be on a break. However, the last time Jimmy Kimmel came to Brooklyn, Hurricane Sandy hit and he had to cancel his first show. So this time hold onto your hats.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Not Actually Live, But Still Great Fun

The name Jimmy Kimmel Live! is misleading. In its normal airing schedule, the show is taped at 4:30pm Pacific Standard Time on the day of the broadcast. There are rare occasions when the show does in fact air special live versions, such as after the Academy Awards or the NBA Finals leading into the ABC coverage of the event. Nevertheless, the show is a late night favorite among viewers. Since 2013, the show has been airing in the 11:35pm time slot in order to directly compete with Late Night with David Letterman, and now Late Night with Stephen Colbert, as well as what was once The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which is now The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Since both Letterman and Leno have since retired, Jimmy Kimmel is the longest running late night host. Jimmy Kimmel is 47 years old, which still makes him one of the new generation along with Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon. In fact, 47 years ago, Kimmel was born in Brooklyn, where he will return next month for his week long special.


Colbert Late Show To Do Battle With Fallon’s Tonight Show

Both Air in Same Time Slot: Weeknights at 11:30pm

jimmy fallon stephen colbertWith Stephen Colbert having taken over David Letterman’s longtime tenure as host of the Late Show on CBS, he is now is the same time slot as one of his colleagues and competitors: Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show on NBC. Whereas David Letterman traditionally catered to an older demographic than Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert stepping into the Late Show shoes mean that he and Jimmy Fallon are now competing for the same younger demographic. Though Colbert is 51, which is significantly older than Fallon at age 40, he generally caters to the same younger demographic, at least to a younger demographic than Letterman did in his time. This is the first time that the two late night shows are very different in both style and content; whereas Colbert presents a funny look at serious subject matter, Fallon has taken his show more to irreverent interviews along with hilarious Saturday Night Live style sketches. Though there are no clear ratings comparisons at this time, as Colbert has only just begun his new tenure, it is clear that the competition will be fierce and the networks will need to consider the matter from a different angle than they are used to. The format of the traditional late night hosts such as David Letterman and Jay Leno now seems so long ago, and we have entered a new era of late night television

The Battle for Viral Videos as Much as Traditional Ratingsjimmy fallon stephen colbert

When Stephen Colbert led his Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, 43 percent of his regular audience was under age 30 (according to a survey by Pew). However, in having abandoned his conservation character Stephen Colbert from The Colbert Report, he will need to work to hold onto his younger fan base. On the other hand, he has a much stronger hold on that demographic than his predecessor, David Letterman. Both Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon are renowned not only for captivating audiences in their traditional television time slots, but also for cultivating a strong following from people watching recap videos online, on sites such as youtube as well as the networks’ own websites. Therefore, the battle between Colbert and Fallon to captivate viewers will not only depend on the simultaneity of their television airings, but also on their ability to retain viewership on the viral video channels. When Fallon got his start in 2009, he significantly lowered the average age for late night viewers as a whole, and a great part of his strategy was focusing on viral videos. To this point, Colbert has already begun to capitalize on that strategy as well, through creating a podcast and website in anticipation of the launch of his reign on the Late Show, and by launching memorable moments such as shaving his “Colbeard” that he grew during his time off from appearing on television.

The Implications for Advertiser Revenue

As of now, there is a $100 million advertising gap between Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show on NBC and the Late Show on CBS. In taking over from David Letterman, Stephen Colbert has his work cut out for him in terms of closing that gap. In 2014, of the $412.1 million that advertisers spent on the 11:30pm timeslot on the networks CBS, NBC, and ABC, Jimmy Fallon’s show snagged 47.6 percent of that, at $196.3 million. Furthermore, that number increased throughout the four quarters of 2014, with Fallon earning 46.4 percent in the 2nd quarter, 51.5 percent in the 3rd quarter, and the finishing out the year with 55 percent in the final quarter. On the other hand, David Letterman’s numbers decreased each quarter, culminating in just 22.5 percent in the final quarter of 2014. Of course, these numbers do not take into account the viral video viewership. Nevertheless, Stephen Colbert will need to work hard to cultivate viewership that will warrant competitive advertising revenue for the network, which from a business perspective, is exactly what he was hired to do.

Late Show with Stephen Colbert Announces First Week Line Up

George Clooney and Jeb Bush Joined By Great List of Guests

On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, Late Show with Stephen Colbert will have its premiere broadcast episode on CBS. Stephen Colbert took over from David Letterman, who retired after hosting the Late Show since 1992; Letterman’s final episode aired on May 20, 2015.

Late Show with Stephen Colbert Marquee

Late Show with Stephen Colbert Marquee

Continuing the franchise, Colbert takes over after completing his highly successful run on Comedy Central with The Colbert Report, which ran from 2005 to his final episode on December 18, 2014. In the time since completing The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert grew a beard, appeared in some television shows such as House of Cards and The Mindy Project, and has been preparing for his Late Night debut. The first episode of Late Night with Stephen Colbert has thus been anticipated by his wide array of fans for a long time. The first week of guests has just been announced. On the first episode on September 8, 2015, it was previously announced that Colbert’s guests will include the presidential Republican candidate Jeb Bush, who is offering his supporters a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to view the premiere taping; the winner will be chosen from those who contribute at least $3 on the campaign’s website, but presumably higher donations have a higher probability of being chosen. In addition, the first episode guests will include the movie star George Clooney. Clooney may talk about his recent film projects, but he is just as likely to discuss his liberal causes, such as Darfur, the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, or his political views.

An Excellent Week of Guests to Follow

stay human jon batiste

Jon Batiste and Stay Human

On the first episode on Tuesday, Colbert will also introduce his bandleader and Late Show band, Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human. A group of young musicians who recently graduated from Juilliard, Stay Human is modern day New Orleans big band soul music, with a tuba, drums, saxophone and Jon Batiste with his magic fingers on keys. The music is sure to also include some special guests throughout the week. On the second episode, Wednesday September 9, 2015, the guests will include the actress Scarlett Johansson, whose recent films credits include Lucy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Under the Skin, and the voice in Her. In addition, that episode will feature Elon Musk, the business magnate and entrepreneur who invented Tesla Motors and has envisioned the high speed form of transport known as the Hyperloop. There will also be an interview and performance by Kendrick Lamar, the rapper and hip hop artist from California. On Wednesday, September 10, 2015, another transportation business leader will take the stage, this time the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick. Uber is the car-sharing service that has been disrupting the taxi industry all over the world, allowing customers to request a car to their doorstep with the tap of an iPhone, and to pay seamlessly with the use of technology. That episode will also feature a performance by Toby Keith, the country music singer and songwriter.

Final Announced Guests So Far on Thursday, September 11th

Thus far, the last day of announced guests is for the third episode: Thursday, September 11, 2015. One guest will be the comedienne Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer, whose own show airs on Comedy Central, where The Colbert Report aired until recently. Schumer also has a wide release movie out now in theatres, Trainwreck, and is reportedly co-writing and co-starring in another feature film with her good friend Jennifer Lawrence. After Schumer, Colbert will be joined by Stephen King, the famous author of horror and suspense novels, whose books have sold over 350 million copies. In total he has published 54 novels, which includes seven under his pseudonym Richard Bachman as well as six non-ficiton books, in addition to almost 200 short stories. There will also be an interview and performance by Troubled Waters. As for the Friday show, the guests have not yet been announced, but some fantasy casting reports suggest that Bill Cosby may be among the guests.  Overall, this is an exciting first week of episodes, with many more sure to come.

Jon Stewart Hosts Final Episode of “The Daily Show”

Last Week Countdown to Finale Episode on Thursday, August 6th

jon stewart the daily showOn January 11, 1999, Jon Stewart became the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. At the time, he took over the position from Craig Kilborn, who had been the show’s inaugural host since it first aired on July 22, 1996. Jon Stewart’s tenure has far outlasted his predecessor’s, as he wraps up his 16-year stint as host this week. The show will continue on in his legacy, as Trevor Noah has been tapped to begin hosting the new era on September 28, 2015. The final episode ever of Jon Stewart hosting The Daily Show took place last night on Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 11:00pm. The show ran 52 minutes, which is 22 minutes longer than the usual half-hour format. Furthermore, Comedy Central played a Daily Show marathon all day on August 6th leading up to the final episode. The week leading up to the final show featured some of Stewart’s most favored comedians as guests, including Amy Schumer, Denis Leary, and Louis C.K. In the remarkable number of seasons that Stewart has held this position, he has interviewed guests ranging from Barack Obama to Philip Seymour Hoffman to Kurt Vonnegut to George Clooney. As for the final episode, the guests were not revealed ahead of time, but were instead a surprise for viewers tuning in.

A Slam Dunk Final Show Paying Tribute to Top Talentsjon stewart the daily show

The finale was indeed a huge surprise, with a slew of heavy hitting talents from comedy to politics stopping in to pay tribute to Jon Stewart. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band bid adieu with a musical performance, singing two songs: “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “Born to Run.” Many individuals who were formerly correspondents on The Daily Show made appearances, including Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Larry Wilmore, Rob Corddry, and Rob Riggle. Other comedians came through as well, such as Kristen Schaal, John Hodgman, Lewis Black, Mo Rocca, and Samantha Bee. In particular, Larry Wilmore made the joke that he stopped by because he had nothing else to do; his show, The Nightly Show, was moved to make way for Jon Stewart’s extended finale. A video was also made with the collaboration of many politicians including Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Chuck Schumer, Chris Christie, and John McCain, some of them more gracious than others (McCain called Stewart a “jackass,” all in good fun of course). Darth Vadar even popped in, proclaiming that he was compared to Dick Cheney in an unfair moment.

An Outpouring of Gratitude for Stewart’s Impact on Comedy

On Monday evening, kicking off the final week, Amy Schumer was the guest of honor. This 34 year-old comedian has recently shot to fame with her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer and more recently her feature film Trainwreck presently in theaters. In fact, Schumer reportedly turned down the opportunity to succeed Stewart in the hosting position of The Daily Show. Their interview began on a somber note, discussing a shooting that took place at a recent screening of Trainwreck. However, the conversation then became lighter, as Schumer discussed the havoc she and her friends (including Jennifer Lawrence) wreaked in a recent weekend in the Hamptons. On Wednesday evening, the penultimate episode and the last before the special finale, Louis C.K. was the guest of honor. He told Stewart that he was thrilled to be his “last dude,” and thanked him on behalf of comedy. Louis C.K. disclosed that watching Stewart perform standup long ago at the Comedy Cellar in New York was one of the reasons he decided to go into the comedy profession. Just last week, Stewart returned to that same venue to try his hand again at standup for the first time in many years. In a show of mutual love and respect, he told Louis that he was likewise inspired by him in deciding to return to the standup mic. Overall, it is clear the Jon Stewart will be sorely missed by the comedy community and far beyond. The next phase of his career is as yet unknown, but it will surely be interesting to watch.

Ryan Seacrest’s “Knock Knock Live” Fails To Ignite

FOX TV’s Knock Knock Live Show Review

knock knock liveAt 9PM on July 21 2015, Ryan Seacrest’s new TV show Knock Knock Live beamed out , live, over the Fox broadcast airways for the very first time and now it all seems a blur. Knock Knock Live is Seacrest’s bid to remain on the broadcast air long after American Idol has died and gone to heaven, which will be in early 2016. The format of the show is basically a feel-good, let’s give away lots of sponsors prizes to people who are deserving by knocking on their doors and surprising them. The show roped in a couple of stars like the rapper Common and soccer star David Beckham. Kellie Pickler (from American Idol fame) co-hosted. The show consisted of hearing sappy back-stories of deserving families and then showing them being surprised by one of the celebrities with a easy challenge and then a big prize. Some of the people who nominated the families also got prizes. In a bid to keep the in-studio audience entertained, one of the families in the TV studio was also surprised.

Sponsors Galore

Knock Knock Live had an amazing slew of major sponsors that included Ford, Sprint and Meineke who gave away cars, iPhones and buses for teachers to pick up their students. The show often felt akin to when Oprah gave out all those cars (but later turned out that it was Chevy the gave away the cars). The same format played off here, with Seacrest giving away over half a million dollars worth of prizes of OPM (other peoples money). One such money giveaway was hilarious with Seacrest’s team spraying money into the street using a fan out the back of a truck and having the winner get on their hands and knees in the street to pick up the money in the dirt and grime and whatever else was there. The use of an armored truck is also hysterical, especially when the cash amount is only $25,000. Homeowners all over America will now be using armored trucks to take them to their condo closings as their bank checks are worth way more than $25k

ryan seacrest at knock knock liveThe Twitter Sphere Reacts

Twitter sphere was quick to react to the show with claims that all the “surprised” fans at home were all remarkably well dressed. Each man had on a shirt and tie and the women were wearing their Sunday best with full makeup – not one person was in their boxer shirts or covered with paint or sweat, indicating that all the families were tipped-off in some way prior to the “surprise”. Fox probably didn’t want anything to go wrong on the debut of a live show. With the sheen off the surprise, the show lacked any genuine surprises and many questionable moments appeared in the show. One obvious fake surprise came when one of the hosts came to the door of the neighbor who nominated someone else. That neighbor acted totally surprised, yet a veritable riot had been happening outside their house for the last thirty minutes with over 50 TV crew, 100 neighbors, four TV trucks and an armored truck. Every neighbors in the street had seen the show on TV or heard the noise and came out, how did the nominated neighbor not know anything? Clearly they did. It was the most obvious fake of all.

Seacrest is Charming Host But Lacks Comedic Skills

Ryan Seacrest is no stranger to fake-ality TV shows, especially given his mastermind of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Knock Knock Live may have landed in that genre given its less-than-honest surprises. There were many moments in the show that a more talented host could have used to comedic effect, but Seacrest is just not-that-kind-of-host and the show often came over as bland, if not banal. Kellie Pickler shone brightly in this show that gave her an outlet for her upbeat and winning personality. It was clear to all that while this show may not last, she just passed the interview for something bigger and better. Pickler had talked about doing The View with Whoopi Goldberg, but that seems a step down for this bright and talented star on the rise.

In-Studio Audience Experience

The In-Studio audience did not have much fun on this show as anticipated as all the action was either pre-recorded or shown live on the giant screens in the studio. Only Seacrest was in the TV studio with the audience, and he is not exactly an electric personality in person. The audience members described the experience as only slightly better than America’s Funniest Home Video’s, but at least each audience member was paid $40 for their six hour experience on the show debut. The audience was gathered by OnSet productions, who are considering raising the pay rate for the audience, as it was a stretch to get five hundred people to come to this show in the first place, where very little live-action happens. Even with the extra money, they do not anticipate on making the show any more interesting for the in-studio audience, so the whole project is difficult.

Back Story Format Lifted From American Idol

david beckhamThe “feel good” format of the show is unlikely to sustain good viewership over time as there was very little raw entertainment in the show, just one family back story after another – with each family getting a bunch of money at the end. The over-the-top attention on the back-story format grew so large on American Idol that many feel that is what ultimately did the show in. Other major networks have made the same mistake, with NBC and their prime time show AGT (America’s Got Talent).

If you cast your mind back to 2012, NBC’s Olympics coverage also has way too much back-story and they managed to make the Olympics slow-paced and bland. It’s amazing that NBC was able to add huge amounts of back-story and not even show the sports events live. They also cut out of opening ceremonies to, you guessed it, show some more back story, this time a
a Ryan Seacrest interview with Michael Phelps. Seacrest is certainly no stranger to messing up good formulas.

During the initial TV show pitch meeting for Knock Knock Live, it is reported that Fox executives often heard the terms “low brow bonanza” and ” feel good format” and they thoroughly bought into the concept. If the plan was to aim the show at individuals who think that “investing in your future” means buying a lottery ticket, then they hit that demographic perfectly. The problem is that advertisers do not necessarily want that demographic and once the sheen is off this show, they will depart, especially given that Neil Patrick Harris’s similar TV show, Best Time Ever is just around the corner and that is being produced by the masters in this genre,  ITV America who have had ten years of experience of developing a show like this.

Simon Cowell’s Suggestions Ignored

Simon Cowell had been asked for his informal input on the show and had been vocal about significant changes that would need to be made to make this show a long-term success. An insider indicated that Cowell stated that Seacrest just wants to be Mr Nice Guy, which after a little while, becomes boring and not edgy or interesting in any way. Cowell suggested that an additional character be introduced (perhaps he was referring to himself) who would arbitrarily decide whether or not the family could keep the money they just won. The reality would be that the family would get the money anyway, but on TV they would be denied just to see the reaction in some macabre They Shoot Horses Don’t They kind of way. “Seacrest needs a bad guy to counter his Mr Nice Guy persona, otherwise, he can be a bit boring” Cowell is quoted as saying. Cowell added “Where is Brian Dunkelman when you need him?”

Show Update: Show Cancelled

On July 29, 2015 Fox executives pulled the plug on this show directly after the ratings for the 2nd show were announced. Ratings that were already low in the 18-50 range for the premiere show, went down by another 17% in the 2nd show. The producers  pulled out all the stops on the 2nd show by bringing in singing sensation Justin Bieber to give a 16 year old girl a surprise. Executives figured that If Bieber was unable to turn this show around then nothing would. A summer launch of a new show is always risky, but this show ended up being a real doozy. The 2nd show was aired Jul 28 2015 and the show was cancelled on July 29 after the audience viewing figures were released.

New York TV Show Pilots On The Rise

Hollywood loves to add its own level of fanfare to its latest TV shows that are in the Pilot stage, but in the New York area, TV production companies like to keep the new TV shows in pilot-stage on the down-low. Sometimes the reasoning for the secrecy is because they do not want to the show to go off half-cocked if the show is picked up. Other times it is because the celebrity is doing something that is off-contract, or may be embarrassing (or damage) their e-score rating if it flops. It seems that well known celebrities do not like to advertise what projects they are working on when on the East Coast, but the second they are in LA, their PR people cannot wait to tell the world via their social media accounts.


al roker in black and white suit on red carpetAl Roker has been uber-busy. He has been working on a new show for NBC Universal, in between the gig he has at NBC on Today and the Wake Up With Al show, Roker has been developing The Al Roker Show that has filmed a number of episodes in the Stamford Media Center at 307 Atlantic Street in Stamford, CT. Al Roker’s self-titled new TV show uses a game show format and is similar to the likes of The Newlywed Game, The Pyramid Game  and Clue (All Born back in the 1970’s in Hollywood) in which couples ask questions and test their spouses knowledge about each other. Al Roker and his PR group has been tight lipped about the show that is under development but it is being exec-produced by Terence Gray (The creator of the New York Television Festival) The PR is being handled by Jon Harris at Jon Harris and Associates and the show producer is Tiffany Trigg. Audience management was provided by the LA based OnSet productions, that have scant New York TV shows to their credit. They had to resort to pay $60 to each audience member to make them go out to the Connecticut studios to watch them tape the show. Lord knows how cheap it is to tape a show in Stamford, CT – but when you have to bus-in a paid audience, all the economical value goes out of the window. Also the quality of a paid audience shifts the dynamic of the show. Now they are being paid to laugh, which, everyone knows, comes over the TV tube as closer to canned laughter than natural audience reaction.

Roker first made his name as a weather anchor in 1974, working for a CBS affiliate WHEN-TV in Syracuse, New York. Since 1996, he has been the weekday weather forecaster on NBC’s The Today Show, and since 2009 he has hosted an early morning show every weekday on The Weather Channel called Wake Up With Al. Al is beloved for his creative approaches to forecasting the weather, often done outside the studio, as well as his success as an actor and as book author.


knock knock liveLike a modern-day version of the Mad TV vs SNL ratings war in the 1990’s, Ryan Seacrest’s Knock Knock Live, currently in production in LA appears to be a straight copy of Neil Patrick Harris’s, yet to be shot, Best Time Ever on NBCSeacrest’s Knock Knock Live show debuts on Fox on July 21, 2015. This TV show dodged the whole pilot phase and went straight into production, beating Patrick-Harris and NBC by a solid eight weeks, which, in TV terms, can be an eternity. It is not clear how Fox got to use the trademark format owned by ITV productions for its British show Saturday Night Takeaway, but if the initial Knock Knock Live tapings are anything to go by, it uses exactly the same formula including the “live from your living room” format to surprise viewers at home. At this point it will be a surprise for some, but after a while, as both shows become established, the surprise may wear off and one of the shows will ultimately fail. With Seacrest lacking any on-stage talent other than show hosting and losing his American Idol gig in 2016, he will be desperate to make this work as he cannot live off Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s money (a show where he is the exec producer) for very long. Patrick Harris, on the other hand, may be coming to the party rather late, but he brings tremendous talent to his show, but with NBC calling the shots, they may over-produce the show and sabotage him with the content constraints they have put on other shows (Americas Got Talent being a great example of how they mess things up). If the NBC execs can keep their hands off the show, they may well have an SNL style winner. best time ever with neil patrick harrisFox’s TV ratings will be boosted tomorrow night by the amount of ITV and NBC executives who will be tuning in to see how good the show is and how many bits have been lifted from Patrick Harris’s show. It remains to be seen if anyone else will watch in the notoriously soft summer of viewership. Lacking creative originality, Seacrest has used some of the household names he helped create on the American Idol show namely Kellie Pickler and Adrienne Bailon, as co-hosts. Seacrest gets to be first on TV, Patrick Harris brings his stage talent later.TV viewers may tire quickly if Seacrest’s show just gives  Let the battle royale commence.

Knock Knock Live is produced by Dick Clark Productions and Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment. Seacrest, Fuller, Michael Herwick, Allen Shapiro, Mike Mahan, Mark Bracco, Stijn Bakkers and Nicolle Yaron serve as executive producers. The new show series will premiere on Tuesday, July 21 at 9:00 p.m. on Fox and will be broadcast on the same night each week. Best Time Ever is produced by ITV Studios America and NBC Entertainment. Executive Producers on the show are Neil Patrick Harris, Orly Adelson, Siobhan Greene, Anthony McPartlin, Declan Donnelly and David A. Hurwitz. The latter three individuals are all producers of the British version of the show: Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.Glenn Weiss is directing the show.

ABC’s The View in Slow Motion Crash

Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace to Step Down

the view cohostsIn the eighteenth season of The View on ABC, the original creator and co-host Barbara Walters had stepped down, and it was new territory to test whether the remaining co-hosts would bring in as high ratings and overall support from audiences and the network. Along with Walters’ departure, her co executive producer and co-creator Bill Geddie also stepped down, and he was replaced with Bill Wolff, the former executive producer of The Rachel Maddow Show and vice president of primetime programming at MSNBC. In addition, Season 18 had a new filming location, now taking place at the former studios of the now cancelled talk show Katie, which is located in the ABC Broadcast Center in New York City. As for the most interesting personnel on the show for the majority of audiences, the co-host positions also underwent significant transitions in the eighteenth season. The lone incumbent was Whoopi Goldberg, who was joined by former co-host Rosie O’Donnell. In addition, actress Rosie Perez and former Republic correspondent Nicolle Wallace were the remaining co-hosts. However, O’Donnell cited health reasons in announcing she would not return for the 19th season of The View. In addition, both Perez and Wallace will be stepping down. Therefore, for the 19th season, which will commence in mid-September 2015, Whoopi Goldberg will be joined by an additional group of co-hosts.

Wallace Asked to Resign, Raven-Symoné and Michelle Collins Will Joinrosie perez nicolle wallace

For the 19th Season of The View, Rosie Perez chose to step down in order to pursue acting opportunities. Nicolle Wallace, on the other hand, was asked to step down. She was offered the position of rotating co-host for a contributor slot, and she is currently thinking that over. However, she was reportedly offended to be refused the permanent co-host slot on the new season. As for the new co-hosts, it has been announced that former child star Raven-Symoné (from the Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven) will be joining the panel. This is sure to rile up the discussion topics, as Raven has already caused some controversy. During a guest host appearance, Raven contributed to a discussion on politicians feeling obliged to take selfies by saying that she gets a cramp in her hand now when she tries to sign autographs. Nicolle Wallace responded with a rare burst of aggressiveness by quickly asking if she was that famous. However, the ratings must have shown more of an appreciation for Raven’s self interested-ness than with Wallace’s witty instincts because Wallace has been axed, whereas Raven has been offered a permanent position. In addition, comedian Michelle Collins has been offered a co-hosting position for the 19th season. Collins has appeared as a guest host on several occasions, and is excited to join the permanent panel.

“The View” in Slow Motion Crash

Since Barbara Walters retired from The View in May 2014, the ratings have taken a significant dip. In the second quarter of 2015, the ratings were down 16% from last year, reaching 2.48 million viewers. As for the key demographic of women aged 18 to 49, the ratings were down 18% to only 386,000 women viewers. With the relative failure of the 18th season, the producers are aiming for a five co-host format again in the 19th season. This will include Whoopi Goldberg, Raven-Symoné, Michelle Collins, and two co-hosts to be announced. One of these will possibly be a rotating co-host slot, and it remains to be seen whether Nicolle Wallace will accept the offer to be an occasional rotating co-host in this slot. The show cannot seem to decide whether if it wants to focus on news-worthy items or just cover the frivolous pieces, like who has the best looking pooch. Without Walters and Geddie, the show now appears rudderless, but instead of running in small circles, The View is running like a full speed, out of control, speedboat with an imminent crash in sight as soon as it hits land. Expect more firings to come until they can turn it around.