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How ‘Saturday Night Live’ Joked About Louis C.K.


How 'Saturday Night Live' Joked About Louis C.K.

Cecily Strong and Colin Jost on 'Saturday Night Live'

On Saturday's show, hosted by Tiffany Haddish, "Weekend Update" took aim at the comedian, as well as Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore.

NBC's Saturday Night Live had another Hollywood figure to tackle during its show this week, and this time it was comedian and four-time host Louis C.K.

The comic was accused of sexual misconduct by five women in a New York Times exposé published Thursday, which accused the TV writer, producer and star of either attempting to or masturbating in front of them, either in person or over the phone. On Friday, C.K. said the claims were true in a lengthy statement, and he was swiftly dropped by his representatives. FX Networks and FX
Productions also severed ties with the longtime collaborator and star and ended his involvement on four TV series: FX's Better Things and Baskets, Amazon's One Mississippi and TBS' forthcoming comedy The Cops.

Saturday night's installment of the late-night sketch series was hosted by actress-comedian Tiffany Haddish, and in her opening monologue, the Girls Trip breakout said she was told she should talk about hot topics. Though Haddish took aim at the sexual harassment and assault allegations that are sweeping Hollywood and other industries alike, she did not mention C.K. by name.

As part of what she called "Tiff's Tips," she said: "Listen, fellas, listen. If you got your thing-thing out and she's got all her clothes on, you're wrong. You're in the wrong. Wait until she takes her own clothes off, then pull your thing-thing out."

During the cold open, while having a chat with Roy Moore (portrayed by castmember Mikey Day) and the sexual misconduct allegations that have been leveled against the Republican Alabama Senate nominee, Vice President Mike Pence (played by Beck Bennett) dropped in the line, "Even I heard about Louis C.K. and I'm not allowed to watch TV, I'm only allowed to listen to it."

During the Moore-aimed sketch, Kate McKinnon as Jeff Sessions also appeared and, after dismissing Moore in seeming disappointment, said: "There's so many men out there acting like monsters — Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, (cough) the president. Has this been happening forever? Have I both fostered and benefited from a culture of systemic oppression?," then quickly decided, "No? Well, that's a relief!"

But it was "Weekend Update" that held its gaze on C.K. and the current climate the longest.

Co-host Colin Jost began by telling New Yorkers the brutally cold weather and the fact that "everyone you've ever heard of is a sex monster" are two good reasons to stay indoors. The comment came with a graphic of C.K., Spacey, Weinstein and Moore.

Of Moore, Jost said the politician's "naughty little cowboy outfit" screams he's guilty. Then, transitioning to C.K., he quipped, "How are we still surprised that someone who puts the Ten Commandments up everywhere doesn't follow them? What's next — it turns out the guy who always jokes about masturbating wasn't joking about masturbating?"

The weekly segment then welcomed a new character, "Claire from HR," an overwhelmed NBC executive (played by Cecily Strong) who has been working nonstop given the current climate. Sharing questions from her annual sexual harassment guidelines seminar, Claire quizzed Jost on how to best handle workplace relationships and consent.

In a thinly veiled reference to C.K., Strong's Claire offered three choices, with only one right answer, of how to handle office romances: Inform someone at HR, "Lock her in a room and make her look at it" or "Bully her out of the entire industry."

When asking Jost the "new question" she has to do now, she gave options for "when it is okay for an adult to have a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old." Taking aim at both Moore and Spacey, she asked if it's okay "when she's 14, but smoking a cigarette," "14, but it's Alabama" and "14, but you're gay now so, hooray, how brave."

After agreeing with Jost that it's such an easy question, she said she didn't understand why it had to be on the quiz and squirted Purell hand sanitizer into her mouth. She also used a prop doll to demonstrate where "your penis should be" at work (answer: never out of your pants).

"I'm sure I'll be back next week and the week after that forever and ever because all of this isn't just a scandal, it didn't just start last week — it's just actual reality for half of the population," she closed while reading a mobile alert and exclaiming, "George Takei, no!"

Haddish, the first black female stand-up comedian to host SNL, was joined by musical guest Taylor Swift. Next week sees Chance the Rapper hosting with musical guest Eminem.

Saturday Night Live
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‘SNL’ Has Special Message From DNC: “We’re Back”


'SNL' Has Special Message From DNC: "We're Back"

From left: Kate McKinnon as Nancy Pelosi, Alex Moffat as Chuck Schumer, Cecily Strong as Dianne Feinstein and Mikey Day as Tim Kaine on 'Saturday Night Live'

The show poked fun at the Democratic party following their victories in Virginia and New Jersey earlier this week.

NBC's Saturday Night Live poked fun at the Democratic National Committee with a fake ad stating, "We're back!" following Democrats winning a number of governors races in Virginia and New Jersey this week.

Castmembers Kate McKinnon, Alex Moffat, Mikey Day and Cecily Strong appeared as Democratic politicians Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tim Kaine and Dianne Feinstein, respectively.

"We can't just appeal to coastal elites," said McKinnon's Pelosi. “We need mouth breathers from Wisconsin.”

Strong's Feinstein went on to express the need to secure jobs. “Jobs like smuggling immigrants across the border,” she said.

“And converting Confederate monuments to statues of prominent lesbian poets,” McKinnon's Pelosi added.

The fake ad then introduced "fresh new faces" to the party: former SNL castmember Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden, Larry David as Bernie Sanders and McKinnon as Hillary Clinton. McKinnon also later showed up as “Not Hillary,” which was her in the same Clinton outfit and wig, but with a fake mustache.

"We're really going to lace into people if they don't say what's politically correct, like these comics out there that think it's okay to make jokes about concentration camps. That guy should rot in hell," said David's Sanders, alluding to the comic actor's own controversial monologue last week hosting SNL.

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‘SNL’ Skewers Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore


'SNL' Skewers Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore

Mikey Day (left) as Roy Moore and Beck Bennett as Vice President Mike Pence on 'Saturday Night Live'

“You, sir, are too Alabama."

NBC's Saturday Night Live took aim at Republican Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore in Saturday's cold open. Moore, accused of making inappropriate advances and sexual contact by an Alabama woman when she was 14, has been at the center of controversy this week for the allegations, which surfaced in a recent Washington Post exposé.

SNL castmember Mikey Day, dressed in a cowboy hat and leather vest, appeared as Moore to meet with Beck Bennett’s Vice President Mike Pence. “It’s all lies — I’m not that guy,” Day's Moore said.

“It’s hard to convince people that you’re not into young girls when you’re dressed like Woody from Toy Story,” Bennett's Pence replied.

Day’s Moore was looking for assistance, however. “Can’t you call the boss?” he asked. “I’m sorry, I’m not going to call Vladimir Putin about this,” said Bennett's Pence.

Castmember Kate McKinnon, reprising her role as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then emerged from a nearby cabinet to offer some advice to Day’s Moore. “I’m usually the creepiest one in the room, but I look at you and I’m, like, 'Oh, my God,'” she told Day.

“You, sir, are too Alabama,” McKinnon's Sessions told Day's Moore. She then dismissed him and pulled out a stuffed possum from the cabinet.

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Anatomy of a Hit: How ABC’s ‘The Good Doctor’ Became the Season’s Breakout


Anatomy of a Hit: How ABC's 'The Good Doctor' Became the Season's Breakout

"The Good Doctor"

Star Freddie Highmore initially passed on the David Shore medical drama.

In the Peak TV era where more than 500 shows are competing for viewers, delivering a big breakout hit on a broadcast network has become increasingly challenging. But it's not totally impossible as Fox's Empire and NBC's This Is Us most recently managed to cut through the cluttered landscape. And this season, ABC's Freddie Highmore starrer The Good Doctor has followed suit.

The Sony Pictures Television Studios-produced drama, based on a Korean format and from showrunner David Shore (House), is outpacing the numbers This Is Us was pulling last season by 28 percent. The medical drama's latest feat is even more impressive: with an average of 17.9 million viewers for its Oct. 16 episode (including seven days of DVR), it topped CBS' The Big Bang Theory as the most-watched series across all of TV.

"We have done incredibly well with the young female demo," gushes ABC Entertainment Group president Channing Dungey of her breakout hit. "A lot of that is due to the charm of Freddie Highmore, who's not only an incredibly talented actor, but a very charming individual who seems to have developed an enormously large fan base of young women."

Dungey has every reason to be enthusiastic. The Good Doctor is an enormous coup for ABC, which for the last two seasons finished third overall among the broadcast networks, and fourth in the coveted 18-49 demo. It's also a big deal for Highmore, who wrapped his acclaimed five-season run on A&E's Psycho prequel Bates Motel just in time to score the biggest hit of his career on either the big or small screens. Although it's worth noting that he came close to not doing it at all.

"He passed on the role the first time," says Sony Pictures Television co-president Jason Clodfelter, who developed the series in his previous role as head of drama at the studio. It wasn't until Sony came back to Highmore — who at that time was "exhausted" from his work on Bates Motel — with a reduced commitment of 18 vs. 22 episodes that he agreed to do it.

"It wasn't really a sense of having passed on it; [it was] needing more than three days to make the decision to jump from one television show into another one," Highmore tells The Hollywood Reporter from The Good Doctor's Vancouver set. "I finished Bates Motel, and this sort of huge, climactic last scene for Norman [Bates], and three days later I was down in L.A. having read the script and meeting with David Shore."

Ironically, Shore and Clodfelter initially hoped to cast a relative unknown in the part. "We thought with that character, you didn't want anybody bringing a persona to the role — that you really needed to just allow the audience to fall in love with somebody new and somebody fresh," Clodfelter says. But those casting sessions failed to bear fruit, and in Highmore, they found a star whose relative high profile was balanced by his chameleon-like qualities as an actor.

"I think he's a good enough actor and a subtle enough actor, and he's able to right away make us forget any of his previous roles," Shore says. "He did that for me, in a sense, when I met with him."

Based on a Korean series of the same name, The Good Doctor was initially brought to U.S. shores by Hawaii Five-0 star Daniel Dae Kim, who in 2013 signed a two-year development deal with CBS Television Studios. But when the project failed to gain traction there, Kim received the studio's permission to shop it elsewhere. It was around that time that Shore caught wind of it.

"I came to it independent of Daniel," Shore recalls. "I watched [the Korean series] and went, 'Wow, this is really different and emotional' … And then I found out that Daniel had the rights to it. And I spoke to Daniel, and it was a wonderful meeting, we got together and we were thinking of it in the exact same ways. I think the show moved us in the same way, and we decided to proceed together."

After pitching it around town, Shore and Kim garnered interest from multiple networks before eventually landing the project at ABC, which under Dungey's leadership has been focused on programming with broad appeal. Highmore stars as Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with Savant syndrome who is recruited into the pediatric surgical unit of a prestigious hospital. The series asks if a person who doesn't have the ability to relate to people can actually save their lives.

"We had gotten to a point as a network where we were skewing very heavily female in terms of some of the stories we were telling … and feeling like we wanted to have a slightly broader access point that would allow men and women, old and young, into the tent," says Dungey, who oversaw the development of such series as Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder in her previous post as president at ABC Studios. That directive made a broadly targeted show like The Good Doctor a "no-brainer" for the network, she adds. It also dovetailed nicely with Dungey's honest appraisal of broadcast's limitations. "We really wanted to lean into what we think broadcast does well," she continues. "We're never going to out-stream streaming when it comes to dark and edgy and highly sexualized [content]."

As anyone involved will tell you, one vital ingredient in The Good Doctor's success lies in its "feel-good" credentials. The series aggressively embraces its tear-jerking elements, and that's striking a chord with viewers who have grown weary of the darker-than-usual news cycle. Last season, NBC's mega-successful This Is Us similarly hit by offering viewers an abundance of dewy-eyed earnestness in the midst of a chaotic, emotionally fraught election cycle. Both series represent a distinct departure from the breakout broadcast dramas of the preceding several years, when more cynical shows like Fox's Empire, NBC's The Blacklist and ABC's Shonda Rhimes-produced How to Get Away With Murder dominated.

"I think it's [Shaun's] hopefulness … and his positivity, his desire to always see the good in people, that makes him attractive," says Highmore, who hopes to write and/or direct episodes of The Good Doctor in future seasons, as he did during his run on Bates Motel. "People want to root for someone like that in the times in which we're living."

Of course, critical and audience tastes don't always align, and The Good Doctor is a case in point in that regard. Reviews of the series have been middling at best, with many critics deriding the show as "overwrought," "mawkish," "glib" and even "shameless." In spite of its supersized ratings, those on the receiving end of the critical lashings lament the show's reception as a lightweight. "I wish [the critics] would [like it]," says Shore, who earlier enjoyed a mix of both popular and critical success with his hugely successful Fox procedural House.

And yet there is precedent, contextualization — admittedly over-general — that Shore and others invoke seemingly as a way to soften the blow of critical derision and indifference. "Our show is not cynical, dark or edgy," Shore continues. "And our show is a network show as well. And I think it is difficult for that kind of show to get positive notice from the critics."

"I'm really drawing a broad generalization, [but] in my experience it has seemed that critics are less favorable to procedural shows than they are to sort of serialized shows," adds Dungey. "I think that there's a sense that procedurals, because they have more of a formula to the storytelling, it doesn't necessarily rate as high as some of the high-concept, big idea, big swing things that get the critics really excited."

One sticking point among many of the show's critics is The Good Doctor's alleged banality. Even the series' unorthodox focus on a lead character on the autism spectrum has led many to compare it to House, which similarly revolved around a medical genius (Hugh Laurie's Dr. Gregory House) whose unconventional way of thinking often served to alienated him from his colleagues. Shore is sympathetic to the comparisons, but ultimately finds them reductive. "Both Dr. House and Dr. Murphy are looking at the world and asking similar questions," he says. "But they're coming at it from a very different point of view. And I think that makes all the difference in the world to what the show is."

For Highmore, the way others have received the show remains a distant concern (the actor isn't on social media). Only occasionally does he get pulled out of his self-described "bubble" to confront the show's wider impact, as when he traveled to Los Angeles last month for a fundraising gala put on by the nonprofit Autism Speaks. There, the show was presented with an award for increasing "understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder." As far as Highmore is concerned, that recognition is enough.

"That was inspiring," he says of the experience. "The stories that we [are] trying to tell have a greater resonance."

Whether that resonance (and ratings success) can continue on as massive a scale is an open question, but thus far The Good Doctor has shown no signs of faltering (ABC gave it a full-season order of 18 episodes last month). Still, hits of this magnitude are so rare that at least one person involved can't yet bring himself to accept that it's going to last.

"I just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop," says Clodfelter with a laugh. "It's been a little surreal."

The Good Doctorairs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

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