Stars on screen

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STARS ON SCREEN - By An­drew War­ren

Sum­mer up­date: It may be on sum­mer break right now, but with one of its most talked about sea­sons in years be­hind it, “Sat­ur­day Night Live” isn’t tak­ing the sea­son off.The sketch com­edy show’s longest-run­ning bit hits TV screens for a four-week prime­time run start­ing Thurs­day, Aug. 10, on NBC.

The half-hour “Sat­ur­day Night Live: Week­end Up­date” re­unites the hosts from the shorter “SNL” ver­sion, with an­chors Colin Jost and Michael Che sit­ting be­hind the news desk and pok­ing fun at the week’s head­lines. Other “SNL” cast mem­bers are also due to make ap­pear­ances, lend­ing their own brands of hu­mor to the “news­cast.”

This isn’t the first time that Week­end Up­date has been spun off into its own series. Its first ap­pear­ance as a prime­time spe­cial was in the au­tumn of 2008 un­der the name “Sat­ur­day Night Live Week­end Up­date Thurs­day,” and af­ter a three-episode run it was re­newed for a sec­ond mini-sea­son the fol­low­ing year. It later re­turned dur­ing 2012’s elec­tion for two episodes of elec­toral josh­ing.

So why has Week­end Up­date been spun off into its own series yet again? Prob­a­bly be­cause the last sea­son of “Sat­ur­day Night Live” brought in the high­est rat­ings the show has seen in years, a feat of­ten at­trib­uted to the show’s sharp spoofs of the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Wash­ing­ton. Robert Green­blatt, chair­man of NBC En­ter­tain­ment, backed that up in a state­ment an­nounc­ing the sum­mer series: “‘SNL’ is hav­ing its best sea­son in a quar­ter of a cen­tury — how many shows can say that?! — so we didn’t want them to take the sum­mer off,” he said in the state­ment.

Week­end Up­date has been with “SNL” since its very first episode way back in 1975 — the only still-sur­viv­ing sketch to have that honor. Its hosts may have changed over the years, but its pop­u­lar­ity has al­ways re­mained strong — strong enough to war­rant its own prime-time series. “Sat­ur­day Night Live: Week­end Up­date” pre­mieres Thurs­day, Aug. 10 on NBC.

A new pos­ses­sion: “The Ex­or­cist” is ex­pand­ing its cast.The Fox series, which is slated to re­turn for a sec­ond sea­son Fri­day, Sept. 29, has added a ver­sa­tile ac­tor to its al­ready im­pres­sive ros­ter.

John Cho has joined the su­per­nat­u­ral drama, bring­ing his di­verse act­ing range to the crit­i­cally loved series. Cho has been a movie star for years, star­ring as Sulu in “Star Trek” (2009) and as Harold in “Harold & Ku­mar Go to White Cas­tle” (2004) and their re­spec­tive se­quels. He’s no stranger to tele­vi­sion ei­ther, hav­ing starred in the short­lived 2014 ABC sit­com “Selfie,” NBC’s “Go On” and the sci-fi drama “Flash-For­ward.”

Cho won’t be the only new face on screen when “The Ex­or­cist” re­turns. With the first sea­son’s plot more or less wrapped up, most of its char­ac­ters — and thus, ac­tors — will not be in sea­son 2. Geena Davis (“Thelma & Louise,” 1991), Han­nah Ka­sulka (“The Fos­ters”), Alan Ruck (“Spin City”) and Bri­anne Howey (“Scream Queens”) have all moved on.

In ad­di­tion to Cho, Bri­anna Hilde­brand (“Dead­pool,” 2016) has boarded the cast. Al­fonso Her­rera (“Sense8”), Ben Daniels (“House of Cards”) and Kurt Egyi­awan (“Sky­fall,” 2012) are the sole re­turn­ing series reg­u­lars.

“The Ex­or­cist” serves as a se­quel to the 1973 film of the same name.The first sea­son dealt with a fam­ily suf­fer­ing through a de­monic in­flu­ence in their home, and the re­sponses of three priests (Her­rera, Daniels and Egyi­awan) try­ing to deal with it.The new sea­son moves on from that now-re­solved story (hence the cast­ing changes), with Cho play­ing a former child psy­chol­o­gist whose fos­ter child be­comes tar­geted by some­thing very evil.

“The Ex­or­cist” re­turns to Fox for a sec­ond sea­son this fall.

Michael Che and Colin Jost host “Sat­ur­day Night Live: Week­end Up­date”

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