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‘SNL’ announces first hosts for season 40

- September 10th, 2014

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Saturday Night Live has officially announced its guest list for the first two episodes of the season.

The show’s 40th season kicks off on Sept. 27 with some major blockbuster power. Chris Pratt, star of summer hit Guardians of the Galaxy and NBC’s Parks and Recreation (who also happens to be extremely funny), will host the premiere with musical guest Ariana Grande.

The following week, comedian and former SNL castmember Sarah Silverman will return to Studio 8H for hosting duties on Oct. 4. Unfortunately, the show wasn’t able to book a musical act as interesting as Silverman, so we’ll just have to settle for Maroon 5 again as musical guests that week.

The Sarah Silverman news is interesting. Could the 40th season have a homecoming theme where hard-to-get SNL alum – especially those who have never hosted before or haven’t hosted in a long time – finally show up to dazzle us on set?

There were rumours Bill Murray was on board for the season opener, but could he still show up on a later episode? What about Eddie Murphy? Jane Curtain? Molly Shannon? Randy Quaid? Uhhh – nix that last one.

 

Quiet down, youngsters; Grammys special marks Beatles’ visit to Ed Sullivan Show, 50 years later

- February 7th, 2014

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What do Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Dave Grohl, Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, John Legend, Keith Urban, John Mayer and Eurythmics have in common?

They’re all fans of the Beatles.

Those artists and many more took part in the concert extravaganza titled The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles. Taped a day after the Grammys late last month in Los Angeles, a two-hour version of the big show will air Sunday, Feb. 9 on CBS and City.

This is an anniversary event, and a technically exact anniversary event at that. The Night That Changed America is airing 50 years to the day that the Beatles made their first TV appearance in North America, on The Ed Sullivan Show, also on CBS. It’s even airing at the same hour.

All of the afore-mentioned acts performed at the concert, as did the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics actually staged a one-night-only reunion for the event, because they wanted to be part of it so badly.

The broadcast will feature not only highlights from the concert, but also archival footage from Feb. 9, 1964, when more than 73 million Americans tuned in to see what the fuss was all about.

That loud noise you just heard was the collective sound of current TV executives fainting, overwhelmed by the thought of an audience that big.

Yes, there were only a handful of channels 50 years ago, so choices were limited. However, that merely upped the pressure, too. If you got a shot, you couldn’t blow it, or you were done.

Fortunately for Paul, Ringo, John Lennon and George Harrison, they looked and sounded different than anything North Americans had seen or heard before. Combine that with the iconic images of overwhelmed teens at the Ed Sullivan Theater (now the home of The Late Show with David Letterman), and you have a unique TV moment that can’t be forgotten or replicated.

As part of the special, Paul and Ringo will be chatting with Dave (see above photo).

Will I watch The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

The Voice: My embarrassing personal awakening

- December 16th, 2012

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Judge not lest you be judged? Hardly.

Perhaps the best way to gauge what reality-competition television shows do for the careers of their hosts is to analyze it on a really personal level.

The hottest reality-competition series right now is The Voice (NBC, CTV), and I’ll be 100%, embarrassingly honest about it.

The background: I’m a big music person historically, but because my job focus these days is TV rather than music, my musical world is limited to the music I prefer – like any average fan – rather than keeping up on the entire industry. So …

1) I had never heard of Blake Shelton before he was a judge on The Voice. Recently during the Grammy Nominations Concert Live broadcast (CBS, Global), Shelton got nominated for something, and I was like, “Hey, the guy from The Voice.”

2) While I had heard of the band Maroon 5, I did not know Adam Levine’s name, and I could not have picked him out of a police lineup before he was a judge on The Voice. Now, when I see him performing, as I did on the Grammy noms show, or in a recurring role on American Horror Story: Asylum (FX Canada), I think, “Hey, it’s that Moves Like Jagger guy from The Voice.”

3) I vaguely was aware of Ce Lo Green before The Voice, but I initially thought his performing name was Gnarls Barkley. Turns out that was a musical duo, of which Green was one-half (the shorter half, I presume). But I knew the 2006 song Crazy, which was everywhere.

4) Of course, I was well aware of Christina Aguilera (pictured above) long before The Voice. But admittedly, that had more to do with her, um, “assets” than her music. To this day, I don’t think I could name one of her songs. Nothing against her, it’s just not my genre.

The wider point being, with the music business essentially in the toilet, there is definite value for Shelton, Levine, Green and Aguilera – and their cohorts on other reality shows – to appear on these projects, at least for a year or two.

It keeps their names “out there.”

There isn’t a direct impact on CDs any more, with sales of actual physical CDs dwindling every day. But when you’re talking about touring, or appearances on other TV shows or in movies, either as themselves or as actors, any added “face time” with the public provides a leg up on the competition for a piece of an ever-shrinking pie.

Being on a high-profile reality show sends the message that you’re “relevant” – not necessarily to people who keenly follow modern music, but more to the vast majority of the population that follows music only casually or peripherally.

You know, people like me.

I know who Blake Shelton and Adam Levine and Ce Lo Green are now. And Christina Aguilera, you just keep doin’ whatever it is you do.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv