“SNL” to fin­ish record sea­son with a first

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Elahe Izadi

“Satur­day Night Live” is en­joy­ing its high­est-rated sea­son in two decades, and it’s go­ing to fin­ish it out by do­ing some­thing the se­ries has never done be­fore: go live, coast to coast.

Usu­ally, “SNL” airs live on the East Coast at 11:30 p.m., and then re­broad­casts in each time zone. But the fi­nal four episodes of this sea­son will air si­mul­ta­ne­ously — mean­ing you Cal­i­for­ni­ans get to watch SNL at 8:30 p.m.

Oh, and Melissa McCarthy, whose White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer im­per­son­ation has been a sur­prise break­out mo­ment this year, will host on May 13.

“SNL’s” take on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion has co­in­cided with a boost in head­lines and view­ers. NBC En­ter­tain­ment chair­man Robert Green­blatt’s as­ser­tion that SNL “is part of the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion” is sorta dif­fi­cult to re­fute, given the pres­i­dent him­self has taken time to tweet about how much he dis­likes Alec Bald­win’s im­per­son­ation of him.

“We thought it would be a great idea to broad­cast to the west and moun­tain time zones live at the same time it’s be­ing seen in the east and cen­tral time zones,” Green­blatt said in a state­ment. “That way, ev­ery­one is in on the joke at the same time.”

Coast-to-coast live broad­casts be­gin April 15 with host Jimmy Fal­lon. Chris Pine will host May 6 and Dwayne John­son hosts May 20.

This cur­rent po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment has been good for latenight com­edy, and “SNL” is hop­ing to con­tinue cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the mo­men­tum. The reg­u­lar show will go on its typ­i­cal sum­mer break, but four stand­alone episodes of “Week­end Up­date” — which di­rectly com­ments on the po­lit­i­cal news of the week — will come to prime time start­ing Aug. 10. “‘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,” Green­blatt said in a re­lease.

An aver­age of 11 mil­lion view­ers have been watch­ing weekly.

Other late-night shows are also rid­ing the wave. Seth Mey­ers carved out his place in the pack early through in­ci­sive po­lit­i­cal takes and crit­i­cism of Trump.

Fal­lon’s “Tonight Show” has long beaten “The Late Show with Stephen Col­bert” in the rat­ings bat­tle. But Fal­lon con­tin­ues to catch flack for his 2016 in­ter­view with Trump when he fa­mously tou­sled the then-can­di­date’s hair and avoided hard-hit­ting ques­tions, and he’s since been per­ceived as be­ing soft on Trump and of­fer­ing es­capist hu­mor.

But then Trump took of­fice, and Col­bert’s po­lit­i­cally charged ap­proach gave him the ad­van­tage. Col­bert has now been beat­ing Fal­lon for five weeks straight, and count­ing.

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