SNL Week­end Up­date gets 4-week prime-time run

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - OUR TOWN - The TV Col­umn ap­pears Sun­day, Tues­day and Thurs­day. Email: mstorey@arkansason­line.com

Satur­day Night Live: Week­end Up­date Sum­mer Edi­tion de­buts at 8 p.m. to­day on NBC. Why? “Be­cause news doesn’t take the sum­mer off.”

NBC prom­ises “the most trusted names in fake news” as Colin Jost and Michael Che co-an­chor the live half hour with ad­di­tional cast mem­bers set to ap­pear. It’ll be a four­week run that will help tide us over un­til the moth­er­ship re­turns this fall for Sea­son 43. I’ll let that sink in.

SNL has been on the air since Oct. 11, 1975, when co­me­dian Ge­orge Carlin was the first host. For the record, Alec Bald­win holds the tro­phy as host with the most — 17 times since 1990.

Bald­win, with his tren­chant and mem­o­rable im­per­son­ations of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, cer­tainly played a part in the suc­cess of Sea­son 42, which ended May 20. Add Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer sketches and SNL saw its best rat­ings in more than 20 years.

Last month, SNL was nom­i­nated for 22 Prime­time Emmy Awards, a record for the se­ries. It tied HBO’s West­world for the most nom­i­na­tions this year.

Here are sev­eral items from the re­cent Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion Sum­mer Press Tour in Bev­erly Hills, which I closely fol­lowed from afar:

The Mid­dle. ABC has an­nounced that the forth­com­ing ninth sea­son will be the last for the Heck fam­ily. Chan­ning Dungey, ABC En­ter­tain­ment pres­i­dent, said, “It’s rare for a se­ries to have this type of longevity. We’ve watched Axl, Sue and Brick grow up right be­fore our eyes. I’m look­ing for­ward to the fit­ting and happy end­ing the pro­duc­ers will give the Hecks and our view­ers.” Halt and Catch Fire. The fas­ci­nat­ing AMC drama will re­turn for its fourth and fi­nal sea­son with a two-hour pre­miere at 8 p.m. Aug. 19. Dy­nasty. The CW re­boot of the 1980s soap is set for Oct. 11. Se­ries star El­iz­a­beth Gil­lies (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll), who will play Fal­lon Car­ring­ton, says the new show will have much in com­mon with the orig­i­nal, but the new show aims to “kick it up a notch.”

Oooo! More cat­fights?

Game of Thrones. The new sea­son got off to a soar­ing start. For the first two weeks, the se­ries av­er­aged an as­ton­ish­ing 26 mil­lion view­ers.

Star Trek Dis­cov­ery. The pre­miere of the new se­ries, ex­clu­sive to CBS’ stream­ing ser­vice CBS All Ac­cess, has been post­poned nine months in or­der to get it just right.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Alex Kurtz­man told the crit­ics that rush­ing the se­ries for a planned Jan­uary de­but would “com­pro­mise the qual­ity of the show.”

The time­line for the new se­ries is 10 years prior to the orig­i­nal. Sonequa Mart­inGreen (who played Sasha Wil­liams on The Walk­ing Dead) will play the cen­tral char­ac­ter, First Of­fi­cer Michael Burn­ham. Yes, Michael.

Kevin Can Wait. Have you won­dered how CBS plans to re­place Erinn Hayes, who played Kevin James’ wife, Donna, on the se­ries, with Leah Rem­ini, who played James’ wife on The King of

Queens? Now we know. Come the fall, CBS will kill off Donna, but there will be some sort of con­ve­nient time jump to keep things taste­ful. One CBS spokesman said Donna’s death “will be treated with dig­nity and re­spect, and the show will move for­ward.”

Last sea­son’s two-part sea­son fi­nale fea­tured a re­union be­tween James and Rem­ini, who guest-starred as James’ for­mer po­lice part­ner and ri­val on the force. CBS noted the spark and wanted “to keep that magic and chem­istry go­ing for­ward.”

PBS cuts? PBS Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Paula Kerger warned the crit­ics that if fed­eral fund­ing is cut, pub­lic TV sta­tions heav­ily de­pen­dent

on those funds — es­pe­cially those in ru­ral or un­der-served ar­eas — won’t sur­vive.

Pres­i­dent Trump has called for an end to fed­eral funds for PBS and Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio.

PBS’ share of the ap­prox­i­mate $450 mil­lion in fed­eral funds for pub­lic TV and ra­dio goes largely to sup­port pub­lic TV sta­tions na­tion­wide.

“PBS will not go away,” Kerger said, “but a num­ber of our sta­tions will. There is no Plan B for that.”

Carol Bur­nett. One of the high­lights of my 14 years on TCA sum­mer press tour was get­ting to meet com­edy leg­end Carol Bur­nett. She was as de­light­ful in per­son as you would imag­ine. I don’t mind ad­mit­ting I was star-struck.

Net­flix has an­nounced that the 84-year-old Bur­nett will star in a new un­scripted com­edy on the stream­ing ser­vice ti­tled A Lit­tle Help With Carol Bur­nett.

The 12-episode half hour se­ries is set to de­but in 2018. In it, chil­dren ages 4 to 8 “will have the chance to solve re­al­life is­sues brought to them by celebri­ties and oth­ers.”

Colin Jost, (left) and Michael Che will co-an­chor a spe­cial four­week live prime-time run of Satur­day Night Live: Week­end Up­date Sum­mer Edi­tion be­gin­ning at 8 p.m. to­day on NBC.

MICHAEL STOREY

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