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The TV Column

SNL Weekend Update gets 4-week prime-time run

By Michael Storey

This article was published August 10, 2017 at 1:51 a.m.

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-pm-today-on-nbc

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.

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 four-week 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.

FROM THE PRESS TOUR

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 p̶o̶s̶t̶p̶o̶n̶e̶d̶ ̶n̶i̶n̶e̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶t̶h̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶o̶r̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶j̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶r̶i̶g̶h̶t̶.̶ set for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24.*

E̶x̶e̶c̶u̶t̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶d̶u̶c̶e̶r̶ ̶A̶l̶e̶x̶ ̶K̶u̶r̶t̶z̶m̶a̶n̶ ̶t̶o̶l̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶r̶i̶t̶i̶c̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶r̶u̶s̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶s̶e̶r̶i̶e̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶n̶n̶e̶d̶ ̶J̶a̶n̶u̶a̶r̶y̶ ̶d̶e̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶w̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶"̶c̶o̶m̶p̶r̶o̶m̶i̶s̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶q̶u̶a̶l̶i̶t̶y̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶w̶.̶"̶

The premiere will air on CBS before moving to the streaming service.*

The timeline for the new series is 10 years prior to the original. Sonequa Martin-Green (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 real-life issues brought to them by celebrities and others."

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 08/10/2017

*CORRECTION: Star Trek Discovery will debut at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 on CBS before moving to the streaming service CBS All Access. An incorrect premiere date was given in a previous version of this column.

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