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.

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.

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.

Silvercup Studios to Open New Bronx Location

New Hub for New York Based Television Shows and Films

silvercupSilvercup Studios, the largest film and television production center in New York City, has been based in Long Island City, Queens since 1983, when it took over from the former Silvercup Bakery in the building. Founded by brothers Stuart and Alan Suna, Silvercup was originally used primarily as a site to film music videos and commercials, but it has become much more predominantly used for television production in recent years. For example, Silvercup is famously the site where HBO’s Sex and the City filmed their six seasons, as well as the primary site for ABC’s Hope & Faith as well as FX’s Rescue Me. Other television shows to use the space over the years include Girls, Madam Secretary, 30 Rock, Gossip Girl, Big Lake, Elementary, Fringe, Mad Men, The Michael J. Fox Show, Person of Interest, The Sopranos, and Ugly Betty. With this storied history, the complex is looking to expand and has found its new site in the South Bronx, in the Port Morris area of the borough. The new facility will be 115,000 square feet in size, and operate as a full service studio complex. The warehouse is located at 295 Locust Ave., nearby the Bruckner Expressway as well as the Bronx Brewery. This new facility will be known as Silvercup North, and will open its doors in 2016.

Bronx Revitalization and New York Tax Incentives


The new Bronx site

The project is slated to cost $35 million in order to build the new production studios with 50 foot ceilings as well as offices and shops. These facilities will be able to encompasses two-story high sets, and will have the highest ceilings of any facility in New York City. The South Bronx, which has long been a troubled area, is finally entering a period of long-expected gentrification. In 2014 alone, real estate investors put $2.39 billion into the borough, which is 39% higher than 2013 and 55% higher than 2012. This will create many new jobs for New York City, with a lot of temporary construction work, as well as hundreds of additional jobs in the production industry. The Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is supportive of the new studio, eager both for the economic development as well as the helpful branding of the Bronx image. One of the reasons it is worthwhile for Silvercup to build a new studio is that production tax incentives in New York State are generous at the moment. Though this can change from year to year, New York currently offers producers 30% of their budget in refundable tax credits, up to $420 million allocated for below-the-line expenditures, and $7 million allocated for post-production. This is as long as the production follows all the detailed rules to qualify, including shooting 75% of production in state.

Television Shows Moving to the New Site

Time will tell which shows begin to film in the new Bronx site, but chances are that many will move not just from Silvercup’s Studios in Long Island City, but also from other locations including out of state. Many television shows, including some from NBC, are currently filmed in Stamford, Connecticut, where the present tax incentive offering is 30% in transferable tax credit for spends over $1 million, with up to 50% of production days in the state of Connecticut. Provided that Mayor DiBlasio and Governor Cuomo uphold matching the benefits that these shows currently get in Connecticut, chances are that the new Silvercup North facility will bring back some shows to New York.

Fall Gears Up for Slew of New NYC TV Shows

Neil Patrick Harris’ “Best Time Ever” Premieres Sept 15th on NBC

neil patrick harris best time everIn fall 2015, a lot of changes are afoot on network television. Neil Patrick Harris, the beloved star of stage and screen from such shows as Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch and CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, has a new variety show coming to NBC. The name of this show has been announced: Best Time Ever. The variety show will be based off of the British program on ITV called Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. A teaser was shown during this year’s Super Bowl, which thoroughly excited Harris’ huge fan base, but the name and premiere date were only announced recently. This past week, NBC set its fall premiere dates and Best Time Ever is set to begin a week before the rest of the shows. Best Time Ever will launch on Tuesday, September 15th at 10:00pm, after the finale of America’s Got Talent. For the majority of its run, however, it will be at the 8:00pm slot on Tuesdays. The variety show includes a mixture of comedy, musical numbers, performances, sketches, and celebrity guests, and therefore is suitable for an early evening demographic. The rest of the NBC new programming will start the following week.

“Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Daily Show with Trevor Noah”late show stephen colbert

As for late night television, two programs are launching their new hosts this fall. Stephen Colbert, who has been on leave from late night since wrapping up The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, will premiere his new part as host of the Late Show on September 8, 2015 on CBS. This also marks a summer break for Late Show, as David Letterman hosted his final episode of Late Show with David Letterman on May 20, 2015. Over the summer, the network opted to air reruns of sitcoms rather than reruns of Late Show, so that fans will be eager for the new host after having been without any episodes for the summer. Colbert’s first hosts have not yet been disclosed, but he has launched a podcast and website while his writing team is busy conceiving the new show, as well as the Colbert demeanor without the faux daily show with trevor noahconservative Colbert character from The Colbert Report. In addition, the Daily Show on Comedy Central will be undergoing a shift in leadership. Jon Stewart steps down with his final episode airing August 6, 2015. After a short break, Trevor Noah will step into his shoes, with the first show airing September 28, 2015. Trevor Noah was a controversial choice for the Daily Show replacement, as he is a 31 year-old relatively inexperienced comedian from South Africa. After the announcement was made, there was a bit of a backlash on social media with some fans declaring him a racist and anti-Semite. However, this is likely a resistance to anyone replacing the beloved Jon Stewart, and Comedy Central stands behind their choice of Trevor Noah as a new face on their network.

Dr. Phil to Launch New TV Show in Fall 2016dr phil

Looking ahead to the following fall, Dr. Phil McGraw, best known just as Dr. Phil, has partnered with to launch a new syndicated television show. Like much of the content currently on the site, this show will focus on celebrity news. It is not yet clear whether Dr. Phil will be a regular on-camera presence on the show, only that he will appear if the Daily Mail wants to run interviews he has done for his own show, Dr. Phil. The producers of this new show will be Dr. Phil, his son Jay, and Carla Pennington, who is the executive producer of Dr. Phil. The show will most likely be based in New York, although there are plans to have studios in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Sydney. The new DailyMail show will be distributed by CBS, which also distributes Dr. Phil. Dr. Phil declared that he saw an opportunity to create something utterly unique, unlike anything else on TV. Further details are yet to come to describe exactly what this will be.

Neil Patrick Harris to Host New NBC Variety Show

Eyeing a Fall 2015 Premiere on NBC

Hedwig Neil Patrick Harris Black TieOn October 27, 2014, it was announced that Neil Patrick Harris would be hosting a new variety TV show to premiere on NBC, in the style of the British show Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, which is produced by ITV. ITV has agreed to make a ten episode season to air on NBC, with Harris as host. Harris was reportedly drawn to this format in particular, believing that it best suits his strengths. The previous May, Harris had turned down an offer from CBS to replace David Letterman as host of The Late Show upon his departure, a position that has been given to Stephen Colbert. At the time, he told Rolling Stone Magazine that he would get bored in the traditional late night format, and that he would rather take on a variety show project. The fact that he was offered the position must have given him confidence that he had the star power to find a way to live that dream. This opportunity came in the form of a partnership with ITV, after finding their Saturday Night Takeaway show to be hilarious and perfect for him as a performer. The show will be filmed in front of a live studio audience by ITV Studios America.

Upsetting the Writers Guild

Though Harris and ITV vehemently deny the accusations, the Writers Guild of America East has called out ITV for not employing union writers for their shows, a trend they may expect to continue with this extremely high profile variety show project with Neil Patrick Harris. The WGA has been in a long standing battle with ITV over efforts to unionize the company, and now over 175 unionized writers in the comedy and variety genre have signed a petition urging the organization to enter into a collective bargaining agreement. Nevertheless, Neil Patrick Harris told the press that a WGA contract was planned for his show, and an ITV spokesperson also explained that the accusations were in error, as a separate and binding agreement was underway regarding that series in particular. Regarding the claims that the company is generally at fault for their hiring activities, the spokesperson also said that they are working on resolving the majority of issues. Still, this is a big money game – Ant and Dec, the creators of ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway, reportedly pocketed 15 million pounds for the rights to their concept, given that it has become an international hot commodity with Harris in the host position.

Neil Patrick Harris: A Versatile Performerneil patrick harris

The variety show format appeals to Harris as it will allow him to flex his muscles. It will include a combination of comedy sketches, musical performances, celebrity pranks, game activities, and A-list guests. Guests are said to include Lady Gaga, One Direction, and Katie Perry, and many more yet to be announced. Harris was most recently in the public spotlight as host of the 87th Annual Academy Awards on February 22, 2015. He has twice hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards (2009 and 2013), in addition to being nominated for 9 Primetime Emmys, winning 5. Of these 5 Emmy wins, 4 were for hosting the Tony Awards. Therefore, he has proven his chops as an awards show host, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. He recently debuted the role of Hedwig in the Broadway premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch by John Cameron Mitchell, winning the Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical. He is also very well known for his role as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, as well as his teenage role as Doogie Howser, M.D.

America Got Talent AGT Begins Audition Shows in NJPAC

America’s Got Talent Audition Show At NJPAC Review

It is the tenth season of America’s Got Talent (AGT) TV show and to celebrate they taped two audition shows NJPAC in newark New Jerseya day for the entire week beginning March 2nd, 2015 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) located in Newark, New Jersey. The ten taped shows were then edited/spliced together and broadcast as four single shows in June 2015, to kick off AGT’s season. This is the only time that AGT will be at this location this season and they intend to resume their confusing changes of location in the regular season to Pier 92, MSG Theater and Radio City Music Hall for the in-season shows. Many of the audition acts that are taped get deleted in the editing stage, so anyone at the taping may have seen something that will never air.

The Perfect Demographic To See The Show

Howie Mandel at America's Got Talent

Each show at the NJPAC is a four-hour taping marathon and seeing it being taped live, in person, can be a poor experience for many people. But, If you are an older person, or have a young family, this show is perfect for you as you are already a good match for the sweet spot of the actual TV viewing demographic.

The only problem is that the advertisers do not want you. They want the single 18-35 demographic and there are very few of those people actually at the taping or even watching it on TV.

Seeing the show taping live, in-person, feels like it was lifted from a non-descriptive, washed-up theme park somewhere in the mid-west. Other parts of show feel like you are on a Carnival Cruise, watching a second rate production that is rocking back and forth. The corny warm-up guy, the cheesy set and the over-the-top reactions of everyone in the production could be just the ticket at ClevelandWorld or Universal Ohio, but this taping actually feels depressing. With the older audience members going to the bathroom every five minutes and young children standing on their chairs screaming, many middle-aged theatregoers would be horrified with the audience antics. When the warm-up guy, Tom Kelly (who loves to keep promoting the Tom Kelly Show, whatever that is), works the crowd for the biggest fan scream, you know you are in trouble. It never ceases to amaze what people will do for a free tee-shirt at this show. Its a tee-shirt and it costs nothing, but its about the only thing that NBC is giving away for free.

The Show Gets Off To A Rocky Start

Standing outside the theater, the first experience of the show is the confusion caused by the audience management team about which line of people was first. It ends up with all the people who arrived first, going in last, at the back of the orchestra seats, behind everyone else, which causes a great deal of ill-will from the get-go. When everyone was finally loaded into the theater, the NJPAC is only about one-third full and the audience management team moved everyone to one side of the theater, to make it appear that the theater is actually much fuller than it is. They also put a few people on the mezzanine to make things look fuller to the camera, but it is clear there are still hundreds of seats free in the back of the orchestra, which are actually closer to the stage and have a better view, but producers care more about how it looks on TV than the actual experience for an audience member.

There are no large TV screens in the theater to help people who are far away to see better, so anyone not in the front rows will not have the ability to see an act clearly, especially their facial expressions, which is something you would normally see at home. For some of the acts, many of the audience members start booing well before the act has even got underway because they are unable to see the subtle nuance of what is actually going on stage.

TTom Kelly at comedy clubom Kelly, The Warm Up Comedian Fails To Ignite The Crowd

This TV show, much like other TV shows in New York City has a warm-up guy to get the crowd going. In this case it is Tom Kelly, who has worked on many other New York TV shows. It might be the fact that he is doing two shows a day that is killing him, but Kelly was not funny and often just annoying – especially after dedicating a full thirty minutes (yes, thirty minutes) on a how-to-clap part that killed any natural audience reaction during the show. In the first half of the show there were over forty six forced standing ovations. By the end of the show it was over eighty.

The acts were good, but not that good. Kelly tried to fill in the gaps between taping with some clever banter, but was only able to make jokes at the expense of some orthodox Jews, some old people and some young black men. His multiple Fifty Shades of Grey references were way too inappropriate for the children at the show and he should know better. His failing grade at this show underlines NBC’s selfish interest to deliver good TV and treat the studio audience like idiots.

Nick Cannon Does Not Host The Live Show

Contrary to popular belief, although Nick Cannon does appear briefly on stage at the theater, Cannon is not the show host at the theater and gets very little stage time. He does, however, become the show host on TV, as he is always on the side of the stage talking to to the camera, which the theater audience is not privy to. Audience members at the theater do not get to see him until the TV editing is complete and he is added back into the process and then broadcast.

The Acts On The Show

The show consists of twenty audition acts, wrapped into the four hours of taping. The long hours of taping wear thin on the judges who have been banging out two shows all week long. On a couple of occasions, Howard Stern indicates that an act is “actually making me depressed”, but it was not the act that was causing his unhappiness, it may have been the show itself.bored-judges-618x254

Each half of this show was two hours long with ten acts per half. Many of the acts in the show were quite interesting, especially during the audition phase, where anything could pop up, especially the “possibly oedipal” mother and son ballet dancers, but the taping process is so long and drawn out that any natural enjoyment of the show is fully diluted. The audience gets restless, if not bored, by Tom Kelly’s repetitious lines of “who wants to be on TV” and “let’s give another round of applause to..” uttered over a mind numbing fifty times. Watching this TV show in person is perfect for those that want an afternoon out with the kids at no cost, but for anyone with a brain, it may be better to watch paint dry and wait for the edited versions of the show to be broadcast on TV where you do not have to undergo mindless hours of delay, repetition and boredom during the taping.

NBC and the AGT producers are not really interested in improving the audience experience at this live show event and are mainly focused on just making a good TV show for the camera. This being said, the live audience at this show is often an after-thought and they are mainly used as a prop, rather than the human beings that they actually are. Tickets to the audition shows are available on the day of the show and on their website and they are often desperate for audience members, because seeing this show live is just not that popular, despite its ratings according to Nielsen.

“Saturday Night Live” 40th Anniversary Special

saturday night liveA Star-Studded Three Hour Event

On February 15, 2015, NBC’s Saturday Night Live will air a three hour 40th anniversary special to celebrate four decades on television. The actual premiere of the late-night sketch comedy and variety show took place on October 11, 1975. Though this anniversary celebration may be eight months early, this special event is sure to attract a lot of attention due to its star-studded excitement. The occasion will welcome many previous cast members of SNL, along with past guests, who will be joining the present cast members and a slew of exciting live performances. The last time a big anniversary was celebrated on the show was 1999, when the twenty-fifth was honored. Compared to that special, executive producer Lorne Michaels said that this fortieth anniversary would feature more live performances in comparison to pre-taped bits. He also mentioned that every host and cast member from history was invited, and that he doesn’t expect all of them to come. However, when a positive RSVP was received from any of them, that’s when their team began writing sketches surrounding their involvement. In any event, this show is certainly something special, as it has been presided over by the same individual, Lorne Michaels, since it first began 40 years ago. That has allowed the brand to grow into one of the most highly regarded comedy shows today.

A Brief SNL Historysaturday night live

The origins of Saturday Night Live date back to 1975. At that time, NBC had been filling the Saturday night timeslot with reruns of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. However, Carson requested that the network remove these episodes from the weekend so that they could be saved for occasional weekday fillers, when Carson wanted to take a night off. Therefore, NBC was tasked with finding a new show to fill this crucial time period, and Lorne Michaels was approached. The NBC president at the time Herbert Schlosser tasked his VP of late night programming Dick Ebersol with filling the slot. Thus Saturday Night Live was born, although it didn’t get that name until 1977, as the name was already in use by a show on ABC. Fortunately, the spectacular success of this comedic romp gave NBC the incentive to purchase the rights to this name. Early on, the show adopted the famous tagline, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”

Cast Members, Hosts, and Returning Guests

This year, the fortieth season of Saturday Night Live, includes a number of repertory players as well as featured players who will likely go on to lead successful comedy careers, as many SNL players have done in the past. Current cast members include Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, Taran Killam, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharaoh, Cecily Strong, and Kenan Thompson. Each episode is hosted by a different individual; this season, hosts have included Chris Pratt, Sarah Silverman, Bill Hader, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Woody Harrelson, Cameron Diaz, James Franco, Martin Freeman, Amy Adams, Kevin Hart, Blake Shelton, and J.K. Simmons. As for the past cast members and hosts who will be joining the 3-hour fortieth anniversary special, that waits to be seen. However, some names have been leaked. One interesting individual who will be showing his face on the special is Eddie Murphy, who made a point of never appearing on the show since he left in 1984. This opens up the possibility that any number of surprise guests may be making an appearance, and the special will certainly be an exciting one indeed.

Jimmy Fallon Heads West for the Super Bowl

jimmy fallonFirst Stop Phoenix for a Post Super Bowl “Tonight Show”

Jimmy Fallon is bringing his Tonight Show westward for the first week in February. Tonight, after the Super Bowl XLIX telecast where the Seattle Seahawks battle the New England Patriots, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon will be broadcasting from Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre. Tickets were released for a free giveaway at 9:30am on Wednesday, January 14, 2015, and a reportedly 42,000 people signed on for the opportunity. All tickets were gone by 9:34am. Since Fallon commenced his role in succession to Jay Leon, he has been the bona fide king of late night, maintaining high ratings and a beloved status among celebrities and fans alike. He is sure to attract a lot of stars on his show tonight, as they are all in town for the big event. It has been announced that his guests will include Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, and Ariana Grande. The latter will perform her recent single “One Last Time,” giving her first live television performance of the song.

Second Stop Los Angeles for a Week-Long Stayariana grande

After the post-game show, Fallon will head to Los Angeles for the week from February 2 through 5, 2015, where the show will tape from Universal Studios Hollywood. This marks the first time The Tonight Show will be hosted from Los Angeles since the show moved from Burbank to New York City for Fallon’s takeover. The show’s origins date back to 1954 when the debut took place in New York City, but since 1972 it has been filmed primarily in Los Angeles County, except for a brief stint in Chicago in 1957. Still, Fallon and his team chose to take a little vacation from the cold winter in New York City, taking advantage of the Super Bowl timing in order to visit some friends out West. The guests appearing in the L.A. week include Vin Diesel, Carl Reiner, Gwen Stefani, Michael Keaton, Will Smith, Rosamund Pike, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jack White. This is a great opportunity for Fallon to invite some exciting guests who may not live in New York or who are hard to pin down to appear on the show when they are visiting the East coast.

The Super Bowl Special

Following Super Bowl XLIX, NBC will air one episode of The Blacklist, after which the local late news will air, followed by the live airing of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Most of the show’s secrets are undisclosed, but it is revealed that a famous lip sync battle will take place between Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart, and Will Ferrell. Furthemore, Ariana Grande will make her live TV debut with her new single from her second album, performing with the house band The Roots. The show is also sure to include some hilarious games such as the “box of lies” shtick, as well as a number of jokes about football. The evening will feature some other stars as well: for the Super Bowl’s pre-game festivities, Idina Menzel will sing the national anthem, and John Legend will sing “America the Beautiful.” Furthermore, the Super Bowl halftime show will feature performances by Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz.

Jimmy Fallon’s “Lip Sync Battle” Becomes Spin-Off TV Show

Jimmy Fallon and the History of the Lip Sync Battle

jimmy fallonJimmy Fallon has been the host of NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon since he took over the post from Jay Leno in February 2014. He had earned his beloved stature through his tenure hosting Late Night with Jimmy Fallon also on NBC from March 2009, when he took over from talk show legend Conan O’Brien. Prior to that, he gained acclaim from his tenure as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, which occurred from 1999 to 2004, when he left to pursue a film career. He appeared in a quite a few movies including Fever Pitch, Almost Famous, Factory Girl, and The Year of Getting to Know Us, but ultimately his home was the talk show circuit, and he was roped back in by NBC. Since seamlessly taking over from Leno almost a year ago, Fallon has proved his insurmountable stature by remaining a huge success with fans and celebrities alike. One of his most beloved shticks in The Tonight Show has been a “Lip Sync Battle,” whereby he competes against his guests, who are often huge stars such as Emma Stone and Paul Rudd, to see who is better at lip syncing. In addition to being hilarious and entertaining, this battle is said to prove the winner in terms of charisma, talent, individuality, and guts.

The Pilot Will Be Shot This Month; Premieres On TV April 2nd, 2015

While Fallon continues on as the successful host of The Tonight Show, he will also serve as a producer of a new spin-off show on Spike TV. Two other producers include John Krasinski and Stephen Merchant, who were the creators of this segment on Fallon’s show, along with Krasinski’s wife Emily Blunt. Krasinski and Merchant are also sometime performers in the lip sync battles. Memorable episodes include performances by Emma Stone and Paul Rudd, as well as a three-way battle between Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Merchant, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Now, this new pilot will be shot in January in front of a live studio audience. It is set to premiere on Spike TV on April 2, 2015. It is unclear how this mini-segment will be able to expand into an entire episode, not to mention a 10 episode series. Still, the show has a lot to work with, given the allure for celebrity guests. Thus time can inevitably be spent in celebrity banter if not interviews, although the set-up will ultimately need to differentiate itself from the usual talk show format and focus in on the lip sync battle first and foremost.

LL Cool J Announced to Serve as the Show’s Host ll cool j

The rapper-musician LL Cool J has signed on to host this new show on Spike TV, as announced this month. He will also join as a producer on the show. He has expressed great excitement about being involved with the show. This will be his second recurring gig on television, in addition to his role as a regular cast member on the hit show NCIS: Los Angeles. He announced that this show was going to bring the concept of the lip sync battle to a whole new level – as it must in order to fill in the longer timeslot. Still, hopes are high that the combination of a winning battle concept, celebrity guests, and LL Cool J as host will allow the new show to thrive on Spike TV.

Click here for Tickets to the show Lip Sync Battle Tickets