by Julian Spivey
This is Jason O’Mara.
He’s a 43-year old actor from Dublin, Ireland and you, as in all television viewers, hate him.
How do I know you hate him? Because since 2008 Jason O’Mara has starred in four television shows and all four of them have been canceled after just one season because absolutely nobody was watching them.
It all began in 2008 when O’Mara took the lead in the ABC drama “Life on Mars,” a remake of a popular British drama, in which he starred as a police detective who was struck by a car in modern times and regained consciousness in 1973. I never caught the series, but it was fairly critically liked before being canceled due to low ratings.
Not to worry, O’Mara would soon get another leading role in Fox’s 2011 series “Terra Nova,” that was about as big budget as a new network series could be. O’Mara played Jim Shannon in this series, in which he and his family travel back in time 85 million years fleeing the dystopian future of the 22nd century to a new world filled with dinosaurs. It was a mess of a show, but had its moments and could have improved given a second season. People tuned in at first, but quickly surrendered.
That didn’t seem to keep him down. He took a supporting role this time in the 2012 CBS crime drama “Vegas,” as the brother of Dennis Quaid’s Las Vegas sheriff. “Vegas” was the better of the two O’Mara series that I’ve personally seen and certainly deserved to live on, but two things have been proven over the last few years – network audiences hate period dramas (“Vegas” was set in the 1960s) and you all completely loathe Jason O’Mara.
O’Mara went away for a few years, surely disappointed and likely annoyed by your massive hatred of him. Then he appeared in the new USA Network medical drama “Complications” this year as a disillusioned emergency room doctor. The critics were mixed on “Complications” from the start – probably because your hatred for O’Mara has started to seep into the minds of the unbiased.
On Friday, August 28 the USA Network announced that it was cancelling “Complications” after just one season. The whereabouts and condition of Jason O’Mara are currently unknown.
Four series canceled after just one season is more than coincidence. Nobody has that kind of luck. Even USA’s “Mr. Robot,” which features TV show cancer Christian Slater, has been renewed for a second season.
It’s obvious you hate Jason O’Mara. What I can’t seem to figure out is why …
O’Mara might not be the greatest actor in the Hollywood playground, but he’s more than serviceable and entertaining, especially when given the right role. He’s attractive too, which though isn’t an acting must it sure seems to help when it comes to a TV show’s popularity. There’s absolutely nothing about this Irish fellow, whom almost always plays Americans on the small screen, that screams “I deserve the hatred you consistently and constantly heap upon me.”
It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But, one thing is sure if you’re a television showrunner and you’re looking to survive past your freshmen season you’d better not sign Jason O’Mara on for your project, no matter how much you like him or how perfect he is for your specific project. Jason O’Mara is cursed and America is tired of never wanting to look at him.
by Julian Spivey
Norm Macdonald and Kevin Nealon, two of the most underrated stand-up comics of the last 30 years, appeared at the Gillioz Theater in Springfield, Mo. on Thursday, August 20 for a night of hilarious comedy and a fascinating Q & A session following each of their sets.
Not only are Macdonald and Nealon vastly underrated, but both are among a small group of comics included in one of the most prestigious groups in comedic television – former anchors of Weekend Update on “Saturday Night Live.” In fact, Macdonald and Nealon are among the very best anchors to ever have that honor.
It’s not always easy to recap a night of stand-up comedy as jokes come at you so fast and furious that many of them will be hard to stick out at you by the end of the night and what you’re left with is the memory of seeing personalities you’ve come to love over the years rather than a remembrance of jokes or one-liners you can repeat to family and friends days later.
Macdonald and Nealon are two comedians that have made me laugh for many years on late night television talk show appearances, stand-up comedy specials and most importantly and memorably as cast members and Weekend Update anchors on ‘SNL,’ a show I developed a strong passion for as a teenager watching re-runs from the glory days of the early ‘90s on Comedy Central.
Because of this, I knew going into this night of comedy on Thursday that it would be memorable and fun despite whatever sets Macdonald and Nealon threw our way. And, those didn’t disappoint either.
Nealon is the more traditional stand-up comic of the two and spouts off hilarious one-liners and jokes one after another, whereas Macdonald is a more story oriented comic where the humor is often more in his lackadaisical delivery than the actual punchlines.
The highlight of Nealon’s set from watching in person, as it is in all of his comedy specials, is his Mr. Subliminal humor – which he turned into his most memorable character on ‘SNL’ – where he compliments audience members and the town in which he’s performing in and throws in little digs or burns quickly at the end of each sentence.
It’s almost a shame that Nealon went first on Thursday night at the Gillioz Theater – not because he was better than Macdonald, but because his structured set, though hilarious from start to finish, was almost completely forgotten about by the time Macdonald finished his set, which ran longer because of the humorous long-windedness of his act.
Macdonald’s set was certainly raunchier than Nealon’s – whose set would’ve worked well in a family setting. I’d say about 90 percent of Macdonald’s set revolved around sex in some fashion and the sheer quantity of rape jokes – one of those comedy taboos – was alarming. But, despite the fact that Macdonald dared to “go there” for much of his set every joke was spot on and hilarious and certainly proved that no topic is truly untouchable in stand-up comedy as long as it’s done right and done well.
The best part of Macdonald’s set was his takedown of Bill Cosby and his rape scandal remarking that a friend of his said that the worst part of the Cosby scandal was the hypocrisy of it all, with Macdonald interjecting that hypocrisy paled in comparison to the whole actually drugging and raping women thing. The typical Macdonald delivery of this was what truly made it one of the biggest side-splitting laughter moments of the night.
So much of Macdonald’s humor is almost impossible to get across in a review of his act, because he’s one of those rare and truly special comedians where so much of the humor is in the delivery rather than the jokes themselves. It’s almost as if sometimes Macdonald seems like a character he’s playing on stage, rather than himself.
One of the best things about his set was a little physical bit he did that I’m not even sure half of the audience realized was a bit, but rather thought was just an odd tick. About 20 minutes into his set Macdonald asked the audience if anybody had a cigarette. Someone threw one up on the stage and Macdonald basically used it as a prop for the rest of his set bringing it to his lips every so often in between jokes and stories and miming like he was going to light it before continuing on with his story, thought or joke. He must have done this 20 times throughout the remainder of his set, with some of us catching on that he was intentionally doing so after a few times of failing to actually light the cigarette. He made it funny each and every time – but, like I said, I think only some of his in the audience realized it was a bit.
After both comedian’s sets the two came out on stage to do a lengthy Q & A session that was hilarious mostly because of Macdonald’s rambling stories and failure to stay on topic and the way Nealon made fun of him for doing so – claiming that Macdonald truly belonged on an old porch swing, whittling a stick while telling old-fashioned stories. The questions from the audience members where mostly insignificant and oftentimes annoying, but the comedians made the most of this segment and in some ways it proved to be the true highlight of the entire night with both comedians onstage together and seeming to have a blast all the while.
It was a true pleasure seeing two comedians who have entertained me so much since my childhood, especially Macdonald who has always been one of my two or three comedy heroes, along with probably David Letterman and Bill Murray and who’s style of comedy has always sat well with me and somewhat influenced my own sense of humor. It’s not often you get the opportunity to see two comedians of this stature on the same night and the entire time was truly a blast.
by Julian Spivey
The first three hosts for the upcoming 41st season of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” were announced on Monday, August 17 with Miley Cyrus set to host the season premiere in early October with Amy Schumer and Tracy Morgan hosting in the following weeks.
Cyrus and Schumer are pretty much no brainers to host the long-running sketch comedy show, as both celebrities currently see their stardom through the roof, but Morgan is the most interesting choice of the three announced hosts as his return to the ‘SNL’ stage will also mark his comeback to performing after almost losing his life in the summer of 2014.
Morgan was critically injured in July of 2014 when his limo was hit by a Wal-Mart owned semi-truck after the trucker had fallen asleep at the wheel. Morgan was in a coma for two weeks following the accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken leg, broken nose and multiple broken ribs in the accident that claimed the life of his good friend and comedy writer James McNair, which mentally might have hurt Morgan worse than his own injuries and rehab that forced him to spend many months in a wheelchair and still cause him pain to this day.
Morgan made his first television appearance on NBC’s “Today” back in June, in which he emotionally recapped the experience of trying to make his way back from his many injuries – both physical and mental.
Morgan memorably began his career as a cast member of “Saturday Night Live” from 1996 to 2003 before appearing as a satirical version of himself named Tracy Jordan on the critically-acclaimed NBC sitcom “30 Rock” from 2006 to 2013, which earned him an Emmy Award nomination for his performance.
Going back to New York to host “Saturday Night Live” for his first comedic appearance since the devastating accident in 2014, which almost claimed his life, seems like the perfect way for Morgan to resurrect his entertainment career.
‘SNL’ is a familiar home for Morgan and the passionate fan-base that has watched the show year-in-and-year-out is greatly anticipating the return of one of the show’s living legends after more than a year of heartache and pain.
Morgan’s performance on ‘SNL’ in October should be a key factor in seeing how far down the road his development series with FX will be. Morgan had signed a deal with FX to star in a comedy before his accident and the network promised to hold out as long as Morgan needed for the show.
by Julian Spivey
The late night television landscape is changing almost by the night it seems with all four of the late night television series on CBS and NBC changing hosts over the last two years, with the last of those coming when Stephen Colbert debuts on CBS’ ‘Late Show’ next month.
Hosts have been playing around with format changes to a medium that’s typically been very structured from start to finish: monologue, comedy, interview, musical guest.
Late night shows have always begun with your standard stand-up comedy style monologue, but Seth Meyers, host of NBC’s ‘Late Night’ is playing around with that standard now and likely doing away with it on his show.
Meyers isn’t nixing his show’s monologue, that would probably be too much of a change and a negative one, but he is changing the way he does it starting with his most recent episode on Monday, August 10.
Meyers is playing around with the idea of doing a sit down monologue, similar to what he did for nearly a decade as anchor or co-anchor on the “Saturday Night Live” mid-show staple Weekend Update.
In fact, when Meyers began hosting ‘Late Night’ about a year and a half ago he seemed very awkward doing the monologue at the beginning of the show. Maybe he wasn’t necessarily awkward at doing it, but it was certainly a weird experience for television viewers used to seeing him do jokes from behind a desk on Weekend Update.
It got less awkward watching Meyers’ monologues as the show went on, but he still didn’t seem 100 percent right doing them. The best part of Meyers’ monologues over his first year and a half haven’t even necessarily been the jokes themselves, but the little interjections thrown in between jokes where Meyers is just riffing or improv-ing. Meyers has always been similar to Conan O’Brien when it comes to this – his improvising between jokes has always been better than the joke writing itself.
Meyers must feel more comfortable in the Weekend Update style of joke telling that he did for so many years on ‘SNL,’ because on Monday night’s episode of ‘Late Night’ Meyers walked directly to his desk on the ‘Late Night’ stage instead of giving the traditional monologue standing up in front of the curtain. He began telling jokes with graphics of the individuals he was mocking appearing on the screen above his shoulder, as they do on Weekend Update.
Meyers has told Variety that the monologue change is going to be done as a two-week trial period, but the detour in strategy is likely to become the norm for his show.
It’ll be interesting to see how viewers take to this rather different change in the style of late night programming. Meyers’ competitor James Corden, host of CBS’ ‘Late, Late Show,’ has also played with the traditional late night format in his first six months on television by interviewing all of his nightly guests at the same time. That deviation from the norm has been taken well by viewers of his show. Maybe the same will hold true for Meyers’ viewers?
by Julian Spivey
Jon Stewart left such an indelible mark during his almost two-decade stint as host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” that American satire will likely never be the same or as good ever again.
Stewart’s farewell on Thursday, August 6 was a terrific way to send the veteran fake newsman, who often actually became America’s favorite and occasionally best source of news off into the television sunset.
The first half of Stewart’s finale was simply a barrage of former ‘Daily Show’ correspondents returning to the show to say goodbye to Stewart. These correspondents included now famous faces like Steve Carell, Ed Helms, Olivia Munn, Rob Riggle, Rob Corddry, Larry Wilmore, John Oliver and, of course, Stephen Colbert – who’s ‘Colbert Report’ spinoff of the ‘Daily Show’ bowed in late 2015.
It was truly awesome to see how many stars the ‘Daily Show’ has spawned over the last two decades and the show probably pales only in comparison to “Saturday Night Live” in terms of quantity and quality of star careers it has begun. It was also touching to see all of these memorable and famous faces return to say goodbye and thank you to Stewart.
Stewart seemed incredibly touched by all of this and even got teary-eyed when Colbert made his appearance and gave what seemed to be an impromptu speech about Stewart’s importance to all of these contributor’s careers.
Another highlight of Stewart’s final ‘Daily Show’ episode was his tribute to his behind the scenes staff, which he filmed in a style similar to Martin Scorsese’s classic film “GoodFellas,” which included a cameo from Scorsese blasting Stewart for continually ripping him off over the years.
Stewart’s final monologue or rant (if you will) was a serious and thoughtful conversation with America and his viewers around the world about not falling for the “bullshit” that’s so rampant in this country and world.
Stewart said: “The good news is this: bullshitters have gotten pretty lazy, and their work is easily detected. And looking for it is kind of a pleasant way to pass the time, like an I Spy of bullshit. So I say to you tonight, my friends, the best defense against bullshit is vigilance – so if you smell something, say something.”
Stewart ended his show by thanking his family, which made him tear up once again, and threw to a performance from a fellow New Jersey boy and personal hero of his, Bruce Springsteen, who along with his E Street Band serenaded Stewart with his personal request of “Land of Hope and Dreams.” Stewart and all of the returning correspondents and his family and crew took to the ‘Daily Show’ floor to dance and sing along to a portion of Springsteen’s iconic “Born to Run.”
Stewart’s final episode of “The Daily Show” was truly an epic and fitting way to send this television legend off with a bang.