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Jon Hamm interviews Ellie Kemper, imagines her future 'SNL' debut

When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took over Entertainment Weekly for this week’s issue, they made sure to slip in a little self-promotion (what did you expect from those broads?). Aside from the duo’s gig hosting the Golden Globes, Fey’s next big project is a fall sitcom starring Ellie Kemper, written and produced with her 30 Rock collaborator Robert Carlock, so Fey wanted to shine a spotlight on the Office alum. She did it in typically fun fashion, asking Jon Hamm — Kemper’s onetime drama teacher — to interview the actress for the issue.

Yup, you read that right: After graduating college, the Mad Men star returned to his St. Louis prep school to teach drama, and one of his ninth-grade students happened to be the future funnywoman. When she moved to Los Angeles, Kemper cold-called her former teacher, by then already a TV star, and he helped her network and came out to see her one-woman comedy show. Things have clearly worked out for the Missourians — they even starred together in 2011’s Bridesmaids — and their familiar rapport throughout the half-hour conversation was delightful.

You can check out this week’s issue for more of their chat, but this tidbit — in which three-time Saturday Night Live host Hamm jokingly plots out Kemper’s Studio 8H debut — was a highlight.
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'SNL' to add black female cast member in January

No more wigs and heels for Kenan Thompson!

Early next year, Saturday Night Live will add someone new to its ranks — specifically, its first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph vacated in 2007. (SNL has only featured four African-American women in its entire 39-year history: Yvonne Hudson (1980-81), Danitra Vance (1985-86), Ellen Cleghorne (1991-95) and Rudolph (2000-2007).)

The news comes from straight from executive producer/SNL Czar for Life Lorne Michaels, who told the New York Times that his team has been holding special casting sessions for weeks. The search culminated in an under-the-radar audition for black female comedians held at Los Angeles’s Groundlings Theater last week, at which about a dozen performers were present. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' held an audition for female black comedians in L.A.

UPDATE (Dec. 13): Executive producer Lorne Michaels tells The New York Times a black woman will join SNL‘s cast in early 2014.

ORIGINAL POST: Saturday Night Live is looking for new talent, and the show has clearly listened to recent criticism.

EW has confirmed that SNL held an audition for female black comedians just last week at L.A.’s Groundlings Theater. This fall, the show got some flak for adding six new cast members, all white, when there still wasn’t a black female in the mix. They addressed the controversy when Kerry Washington hosted last month, but some critics — including civil-rights group Color of Change — demanded more. This audition could be a step in that direction. Although we’re not sure how many comedians were invited, a few of them took to Twitter and Instagram to talk about their experience.
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Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): Bill Hader on saying goodbye to Stefon -- and 'SNL' -- with one last video

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Saturday Night Live‘s epic farewell to Stefon — the absurd masterpiece played for five seasons by Bill Hader — had EVERYTHING: human parking cones, Black George Washington, Jupids, Furkels, even DJ Baby Bok Choy, “a giant 300-pound Chinese baby who wears tinted aviator glasses and spins records with his little ravioli hands.”

So naturally, putting the clip together was a massive undertaking — and an especially emotional one for departing cast member Hader, who left NBC’s comedy institution this spring after eight years. (Soon, Stefon’s entire team will be gone for good: Hader’s writing partner John Mulaney exited the show in 2012, returning only occasionally to help with Stefon-related matters. Meanwhile, Hader’s longtime Weekend Update foil Seth Meyers moves to host NBC’s Late Night in early 2014.)

Here, the comedian describes the making of that big goodbye video, from start to finish — and reveals when, precisely, he started crying.

Click here for more of EW.com’s Best of 2013 coverage.
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Paul Rudd, John Goodman, Jimmy Fallon to host 'SNL' in December

Saturday Night Live has lined up its next three host/musical guest combos — a group of returning favorites that includes perennial favorites like John Goodman, Jimmy Fallon, and Justin Timberlake.

Anchorman 2 star Paul Rudd will host for the third time Dec. 7, with returning musical guest One Direction. Rudd last appeared on SNL in 2010, hosting with musical guest Paul McCartney; the British boy band first appeared on SNL in 2012. Their next album, Midnight Memories, drops Nov. 25.

On Dec. 14, the show will welcome back host John Goodman — who has hosted the sketch show 12 times already, albeit not since 2001. (Time capsule alert: The musical guest on Goodman’s last show was Ja Rule.) This time around, he’ll be joined by Grammy-winning band Kings of Leon, making their third SNL appearance. Goodman currently stars on Alpha House, Amazon’s first scripted series. The Kings’ latest album, Mechanical Bull, was released Sept. 24.

And Dec. 21’s special Christmas episode will feature a pair of ringers: Host Jimmy Fallon and musical guest Justin Timberlake. Fallon, a former SNL cast member, currently hosts NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and will take over The Tonight Show on Feb. 17. Though he has hosted SNL only once before (in 2011), he’s made several cameo appearances since leaving the show in 2004. Timberlake, meanwhile, will make his fifth appearance as musical guest — and his second in 2013 alone. Both he and Fallon have won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for hosting SNL in the past. Earlier this year, the pair also collaborated for a special Late Night event called “Timberweek,” which featured new Timberlake sketches, performances, and/or interviews on five consecutive episodes.

Kerry Washington's 'SNL' doesn't erase show's 'problematic history with race and gender,' Color of Change says

With Kerry Washington as host of Saturday Night Live over the weekend, the criticism about the show’s lack of diversity — particularly the fact that the program currently employs zero African-American women — was on full display, and the show acknowledged the problem in the opening sketch, having Washington forced to play Michelle Obama, Oprah, and — from offstage — even Beyoncé waiting in the wings.

A message then played over the sketch, saying, “The producers of Saturday Night Live would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play tonight…Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent and also because SNL does not currently have a black woman in the cast. As for the latter reason, we agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future…unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.” The message? Saturday Night Live (hopefully) got that there’s a problem here.

Today, the civil-rights organization Color of Change, which previously wrote an open letter to Lorne Michaels about the lack of black women on the program, released the following statement to EW about how they thought the show addressed the controversy.
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Lady Gaga, Josh Hutcherson to host 'Saturday Night Live'

The boy with the bread and the lady with the meat dress are both coming to SNL. (Sandwich time!)

NBC has just announced its next two Saturday Night Live hosts. On Nov. 16, the series will return from a week-long break with an episode helmed entirely by Lady Gaga. Though Gaga has twice appeared on SNL as a musical guest and has cameoed in a few memorable sketches, this will be her first time hosting the show. Gaga’s next album, Artpop, drops Nov. 11.

SNL will continue its first-time-host trend the following week, when it welcomes Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson on Nov. 23. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hits theaters Nov. 22. Hutcherson will be joined by musical guest Haim, the buzzy L.A. band that made a splash this fall with the release of its debut studio album, Days Are Gone.

'Family Guy': Maya Rudolph and Glenn Howerton to guest in episode -- EXCLUSIVE

Family Guy has recruited two familiar TV voices for an upcoming episode, and those voices belong to Maya Rudolph and Glenn Howerton. Rudolph, a veteran of SNL and Up All Night, will assume the role of an avid runner who catches Brian’s eye. To win her over, he pretends to be a fellow jogger. “After Brian experiences the ‘runner’s high’, he becomes a distance running douche, and even signs himself up to run a marathon,” Family Guy executive producer Steve Callaghan tells EW. READ FULL STORY

Kerry Washington to host 'Saturday Night Live'

Think SNL has diversity problems? Never fear! Next month, the sketch show will welcome a fixer who’s sure to set things on the right track: Scandal‘s cool, collected, white-hat-wearing Olivia Pope, a.k.a. Emmy-nominated actress Kerry Washington.

NBC announced today that Washington will host the sketch show for the first time on Nov. 2. She’ll be joined by SNL musical vet Eminem, who will be making his sixth appearance on the show. The rapper’s next album, MMLP2, drops Nov. 5.

The week before Washington arrives, SNL will welcome another virgin headliner: Edward Norton. Though Norton has never hosted the show before, the actor has made a few cameo appearances over the years — most recently in 2003. Norton’s musical guest will be fellow SNL first-timer Janelle Monáe, whose second studio album The Electric Lady dropped Sept. 10.

'SNL': Why are there no black women in the cast? Here's Kenan Thompson's answer

What’s up with this, Kenan?

In a recent TV Guide interview, Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson was asked why SNL currently has no black female cast members — and hasn’t since Maya Rudolph left the show way back in 2007.

“It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson replied. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”

TV Guide also asked Thompson what the show would do if they needed to spoof an African-American woman. “I don’t know,” the comedian replied. “We just haven’t done them. That’s what I’m saying. Maybe [Jay Pharoah] will do it or something, but even he doesn’t really want to do it.”

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'SNL' ratings hold steady with Tina Fey-hosted premiere

Saturday Night Live has gone through a serious shift during its offseason, losing Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Jason Sudeikis, adding six new castmembers, and putting Cecily Strong in the Weekend Update chair. One thing that didn’t change, however, is the ratings.

The Tina Fey-led premiere averaged a 4.7 rating and a 2.7 among adults 18-49 — equaling the numbers for the Ben Affleck-hosted season finale in May. The rating is a 10th of a point below last year’s season premiere.

SNL returns next week with Miley Cyrus as host and musical guest, while Bruce Willis will host on Oct. 12 with musical guest Katy Perry.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Why I was 'miserable' on 'SNL'

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Like many young comedians, a college-aged Julia Louis-Dreyfus dreamed of performing on Saturday Night Live one day. So when the future Seinfeld star was cast on NBC’s sketch show at the tender age of 21 — before she had even graduated from Northwestern University — she was understandably thrilled. (Louis-Dreyfus has called the moment “a huge Cinderella-getting-to-go-to-the-ball kind of experience.”)

Unfortunately, actually being on SNL was more Grimm brothers fairy tale than sanitized Disney story. “I did not adapt well,” the three-time Emmy winner (and current nominee) told EW editor Jess Cagle at a recent SiriusXM Town Hall. In fact, Louis-Dreyfus continued, “I was pretty miserable.”
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'Saturday Night Live' officially adds six new cast members: Meet them here

True, most of their names have been floating around the Internet since August. But today, it’s official: Saturday Night Live‘s 39th season will feature the debut of half a dozen new cast members, including one longtime SNL writer, one skilled impressionist, and one very familiar face — provided you don’t fast-forward through commercials. Here’s the announcement, straight from the peacock’s mouth:

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