by Julian Spivey
I let out an audible groan last week when I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and saw the news that the next new episode of NBC's long-time sketch series "Saturday Night Live" would be hosted by billionaire and Tesla CEO/Space X chief engineer Elon Musk. Judging by the response from others I was certainly not alone.
My main reasoning is simply I don't expect the episode to be very good. Few hosts in the now 46 seasons of 'SNL' seem as ill preprared to host a comedy sketch show than Musk, who has absolute no performing background and generally seems out of touch with the vast majority of ... I'm going to go with the word humans, which I'm not completely sure Musk is ... seriously, does anyone have proof? The closest Musk has ever gotten to performing is he looks like he'd be a Bond villain.
Musk would seem to be the least popular 'SNL' host since then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hosted the show on Nov. 7, 2015 just a year before being elected President of the United States. That was a decision that didn't sit well with the majority of the show's audience and seemingly much of the then cast, even though it did become the most watched episode in multiple years at the time.
The decision to choose Musk as host of the series already seems to have gotten under the skin with some among the current cast. Musk's episode isn't set to air until May 8, but at least four cast members and writers have already criticized the decision to have him host. When Musk tweeted about appearing on the show with the quip: "Let's find out just how live 'Saturday Night Live' really is" recent stand out cast member Bowen Yang responded at first with a frowning face emoji and then with a quote retweet exclaiming, "What the fuck does that even mean?"
Fellow cast member Andrew Dismukes joked on Instagram: "Only CEO I want to do a sketch with is Cher-E Oteri [a reference to former 'SNL' cast member Cheri Oteri and frankly a lame joke that sort of explains why Dismukes has been a disappointment in his first season on the show]."
Longtime cast member Aidy Bryant was a bit more subtle in her displeasure with Musk as host sharing a tweet by Sen. Bernie Sanders critical of wealth inequality in this country stating: "the 50 wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than some 165 million Americans" and referred to that as "a moral obscenity." SNL writer Sudi Green shared the same post.
It frankly doesn't seem longtime producer and creator of the show Lorne Michaels is creating a comfortable work environment for his employees. Is Michaels even in charge of selecting hosts at this point in the show's run (I would assume so, but couldn't find an answer)?
The choice of Musk as host of 'SNL' just seems to go against everything the show has and is supposed to stand for (but so did the choices of Trump and previous billionaires like Steve Forbes before him). 'SNL' is supposed to mock those in power and those obscenely rich. I mean Musk is the dude who shot one of his Tesla Roadsters into space (again, Bond villain anyone? Who does that?). That's something worth mocking.
The only reasoning I can think of for giving Musk the opportunity to host the show is to create controversy, which is exactly what the show has done. But, like with Trump in 2015 where you had the show's usual viewership tuning in, Trump's followers (typically not 'SNL' viewers) tuning in and then others tuning in just to see if the whole thing would be a trainwreck (it wasn't funny, but wasn't really a trainwreck either) this doesn't seem like the type of thing that would draw too many more eyes than usual. Honestly, I think a lot of people tuning in for the next 'SNL' might not even know who Musk is.
So, what's the point here 'SNL'? It just doesn't seem like the kind of thing you do. I don't think this is something 1975 Lorne Michaels would've been proud of when starting the show.
by Julian Spivey
31 Days of Oscars – Watch TCM – Right Now
Turner Classic Movies has been the greatest thing for classic film buffs since it debuted more than a quarter-century ago and the absolute best month of programming the channel offers is its annual 31 Days of Oscars programming in which ever single film shown for 31 straight days either won or was nominated for an Academy Award. You can watch these movies in real-time on the network or you can download the channel’s Watch TCM app and stream what’s airing on the network live and watch on-demand films – there’s no better time of the year to add Watch TCM. Heads up though you do have to have access to the channel via a cable or satellite provider (or *cough* know someone who does and borrow their login info *cough*) to watch stuff via the app.
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” – HBO Max – Right Now
There’s been a lot of talk in the political world lately about the filibuster and how Democrats want to kill it and Republicans want to save it – but if you want to watch the greatest thing ever to involve a filibuster (and one of the few things to ever make it seem interesting and exciting) check out the classic Frank Capra 1939 film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” which is likely one of my all-time top-10 favorite movies and features arguably the greatest on-screen performance from my personal favorite actor James Stewart. HBO Max has the greatest classic movie slate of any of the big-time streaming services and this is an excellent addition.
Concrete Cowboy – Netflix – April 2
Something that doesn’t ever get the representation in media and entertainment it should is the history of African-American cowboys – perhaps because the American cowboy and American West have been whitewashed, primarily by old Hollywood Westerns. That’s why something like Netflix’s feature film “Concrete Cowboy,” a fictionalization of the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, is so important and fascinating. The film, based on the novel Ghetto Cowboy by Greg Neri and directed by Ricky Staub, stars Idris Elba as a Philadelphian urban cowboy who’s 15-year old son, played by Caleb McLaughlin of “Stranger Things” fame, is sent to live with him, despite the two being estranged, after getting into trouble in Detroit. “Concrete Cowboy” looks like the kind of coming-of-age, feel good movie that has large appeal, but on a subject that is often ignored.
“Dolly Parton MusicCares Person of the Year” – Netflix – April 7
Every year the Grammys and MusicCares honors a musician for their contributions to both artistry and dedication to philanthropy and in 2019 Dolly Parton became the first country music artist to be honored as MusicCares Person of the Year. Numerous artists from all sorts of genres come together in a gala event to pay tribute to the artist by covering their favorite songs by that artist. It’s a star-studded event, but the thing that truly makes this special so incredible is that few of these events have ever been shown to audiences after the fact – they do them yearly and this is likely only the second or third I’ve ever seen filmed for later viewing.
“Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!” – Netflix – April 14
Jamie Foxx returns to television for the first time since “The Jamie Foxx Show” aired on the old WB from 1996-2001 in the new Netflix comedy “Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!” The show frankly looks like the kind of family fare that should be on a network television channel like CBS or Fox, but Netflix has been trying to bring such family entertainment sitcoms to its service and Foxx remains massively popular and I’m sure this will be a success regardless of actual quality. That’s not to say the quality is going to be poor. I’m hopeful it’s going to be full of laughs and I like that it co-stars David Alan Grier.
“Stowaway” – Netflix – April 22
There have been a lot of movies over the years that look incredibly similar to this and Netflix just released one toward the end of 2020 in the George Clooney directed and starring “The Midnight Sky,” but the cast of the newest space adventure drama from Netflix “Stowaway” including Oscar-nominees Toni Collette and Anna Kendrick is enough to interest me. “Stowaway” is about a three-person crew on a mission to Mars that is forced to make an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the crew and mission.