TIME movies

Key and Peele Are Doing a Movie Together and It’s About a Cat

AOL's BUILD Series Presents: Comedians Key And Peele
The comedic duo Key & Peele pose for a portrait at AOL Studios in New York City on Oct. 10, 2014 Taylor Hill—Getty Images

Production begins next spring

Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele, better known together as the comedic duo Key & Peele, have just signed on for their first movie together.

The film, titled Keanu, tells the story of a kidnapped cat and will begin production next spring, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film will be under the banner of New Line Cinema, with whom the two comedians recently agreed to produce a remake of the iconic Police Academy franchise.

The pair’s hugely popular sketch show Key & Peele just entered its fourth season and has been nominated for five Emmy awards.

Although Key and Peele have done individual roles in films like The Lego Movie and Little Fockers respectively, this is the first feature film on which they will be working together.

[THR]

TIME viral

Marcel the Shell (With Shoes On) Is Back

Comedy on the half shell.

Marcel the Shell has put his shoes back on and marched on over to YouTube to take the Internet by storm — again.

The adorable mollusk is the brainchild of comedian Jenny Slate, who tweeted about the surprise third installment of his YouTube series this morning.

In the video, Slate’s earnest little shell with shoes is joined by her husband, Dean Fleischer-Camp, who plays Marcel’s exceedingly patient off-camera interviewer. Fleischer-Camp keeps the camera rolling as Marcel talks about how shrimp “are the idiots of the sea,” explains that his “shell gets tight” when he gets worked up, sings a sweetly sad song and announces his favorite saying, which is, of course, “life’s a party, rock your body.”

It’s Marcel’s first video since 2011 and it seems that the happy little univalve was brought out of retirement to help promote his latest children’s book, Marcel the Shell: The Most Surprised I’ve Ever Been.

 

TIME Television

Jay Leno Deserves His Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

Comedian Jim Nornton during an interview with host Jay Leno on June 27, 2012.
Comedian Jim Nornton during an interview with host Jay Leno on June 27, 2012. NBC/NBCU/Photo Bank/Getty Images

As a friend and mentor, Jay Leno helped me countless times

“I was with the same girl for three years and I started to have erection difficulties. We had different ideas as to what the problem was. She bought me Viagra — I bought her a treadmill.” This was the first joke I ever told on The Tonight Show. My second joke dealt with hating my man breasts and wanting to fall on a knife (not to be confused with the reference to shooting myself because I hated the rest of my torso two jokes later). This was September 9, 2004, and it marked the beginning of my 10-year relationship with Jay Leno and The Tonight Show.

Being a harsh, dirty comic, the last person on earth I ever expected to help my career was Jay Leno. I had always thought of performing on The Tonight Show as an unachievable goal, because I bought into the myth that only squeaky clean, family-friendly material would be welcome there. In the years that followed, I can’t remember one instance where I felt like I couldn’t do the material I wanted to do.

I arrived at the studio the day of that first appearance around 3:00pm for a 4:00pm taping. One of the producers brought me onto the set to show me where I’d be entering and walked me out on the masking tape X I was expected to stand on and do my set. I was grateful to be physically walking through the process: I was so nervous that if he hadn’t showed me, I probably would have walked straight off the stage and plowed into the audience.

As I was dutifully standing on the X and confirming (“Here, right? This X right here?”), I glanced over and saw Jay at his desk going over a piece with his executive producer. My nervousness (mortal terror) must have shown, because he stopped the rehearsal and walked over to introduce himself to me. He asked how I was doing and I blurted out, “Fine, just fine!” nodding my head like John Candy in Stripes.

I’m sure he could sense the impending disaster on hand, and immediately launched into calm-this-nervous-idiot-down mode. “You’ve got nothing to worry about,” he said. “The crowds are here to laugh and they’re gonna love you. There’s no pressure. If it goes great, you come back. If it doesn’t go great, you’ll have a cool story. And then you can come back and try it again anyway.”

Obviously I knew that if I was awful I wouldn’t be asked back, but I also understood what he was doing and it meant a lot to me. Jay was notorious for loving comics and treating us well, and his taking that minute to help me is something I never forgot. Unfortunately, that type of altruism isn’t as common as you’d think. There are some hosts who are legendary for the immeasurable apathy they manage to show every comedian with whom they come in contact.

The better I got to know him, the more I began to use him as a sounding board whenever I was stuck at a crossroads in my career. I spent the majority of our dressing room chats picking his brain for solutions. He was such a great person for me to talk to because of his level-headedness and ability to think before reacting. When things go wrong, my first instinct is to strap on a bomb belt and run through the front door screaming. Jay’s advice was always smart and well thought-out, and he saved me on more than one occasion from making a total ass out of myself.

He stressed to me to never make it all about the money — that if you do the right thing, the money will eventually come. He also tried to drill into my head not to feed into the negativity in the business. He meant it. In all the talks we had, even when the country was preparing itself for civil war over the Conan O’Brien situation, he never once came from a place of bitterness or cynicism.

I have so many great memories of Jay and The Tonight Show, but that first moment together is still my favorite. He did so much not only for me, but for countless other comedians. I don’t know one comic who did the show and wasn’t blown away by how Jay treated them.

Congratulations, Jay, on receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. You were one of the most respected headliners in the country and then went on to dominate late night television for almost 20 years. You deserve it. And thank you for taking such good care of me for so long. I will never be able to repay the debt.

TIME White House

Richard Nixon’s Comic Genius

NIxon's The One
Harry Shearer as Richard Nixon, with Henry Goodman as Henry Kissinger Ollie Upton—Sky Arts

Richard Nixon was imitating comedians, says the comedian who's imitating him

Most Americans think they have a pretty good idea of Richard Nixon: Checkers speech, Watergate, resignation.

Which is why Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons actor Harry Shearer decided to debut his Richard Nixon series, Nixon’s The One, in the U.K. The show, for which the scripts came from actual transcripts of Nixon’s Oval Office tapes, debuts for American audiences on YouTube on Tuesday — and people who think they know Nixon may be surprised, the actor says.

That’s because the Richard Nixon of Nixon’s The One is, in many ways, a comedian. Shearer and his co-writer Stanley Kutler, the historian who played a major role in getting those tapes released publicly, spent hundreds of hours listening to the tapes in search of “bizarre, funny, spooky, crazy, weird conversations” that weren’t necessarily about major world events but that shed a light on the President’s day-to-day character. Because many of the tapes had not been transcribed, as they were irrelevant to the Watergate investigation, they relied on logs of his Oval Office meetings to guess which tapes would contain conversations about the themes in which they were most interested; when they did listen, the tapes were often muffled and hard to decipher. And Shearer, who had played Nixon before, found that he had to do extra research in order to capture a relaxed version of the President, who was rarely seen in such a state publicly.

“One of the ways I try to figure out people is to figure out who are they imitating,” he says. “It struck me that the stance that I saw Nixon take when he was relaxed was imitative of the two most relaxed comedians of his era, Bob Hope and Jack Benny. He was sort of doing them, so I did him doing them.”

Nixon’s comedic side came out in particular in the scene prior to Nixon’s resignation, which was caught on camera rather than by Nixon’s audio recorder. In the minutes before he went on air, he joked with the camera crews, a choice that had long struck Shearer as odd, especially considering Nixon’s lack of affection for small talk. In the course of rehearsals, however, the actor came to believe that the joking was for a reason: “He thought, I believe, that these guys on the crew are going to go back home and talk to their families and say he wasn’t upset, he wasn’t angry, he wasn’t sad, he was nice, he even wished us Merry Christmas,” Shearer explains. “It was the start of the next campaign, to rehabilitate his reputation.”

See an excerpt from that segment of Nixon’s The One:

And, says Shearer, the whole arc of Nixon is a comedy — or rather a tragicomedy — in its deep irony: Nixon was a self-made man, and then he became a self-destroyed man. “There’s something quite elegant about that,” Shearer says. “He sort of wrote the perfect punchline for his own joke.”

Read more: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Richard Nixon

TIME TV

The Ellen DeGeneres Show Will Now Be Broadcast in Asia

Carla Bruni Visits "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"
In this handout photo provided by Warner Bros., Carla Bruni chats with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres during a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" at the Warner Bros. lot on April 28, 2014 in Burbank, California. Handout—WireImage/Getty Images

The popular comedienne's talk show will air on the same day as its U.S. premiere in Thailand, Malaysia and several other countries

Ellen DeGeneres fans in East Asia will no longer have to trawl the Internet for clips of her show the day after it airs, after Lifetime Asia secured same-day telecast rights in several countries.

Beginning Oct. 20, The Ellen DeGeneres Show will air in Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, PNG, Hong Kong, Macau, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“We are hugely excited to bring Ellen to Lifetime in Asia and we strongly believe we add value by broadcasting the show in less than 24 hours from the U.S. premiere,” said Michele Schofield, a senior vice president of programming at A+E Networks Asia.

The show will air at 8 p.m. Hong Kong time on weekdays.

[THR]

TIME Television

Members of Improv Group the Groundlings Accuse SNL of Stealing Material

Saturday Night Live - Season 40
Sarah Silverman, Cecily Strong and Sasheer Zamata during the "Proud Mary" skit on Oct. 4, 2014. Dana Edelson—NBC/Getty Images

Both have skits involving Tina Turner impersonators singing "Proud Mary"

Members of the famed Los Angeles improv group the Groundlings have accused Saturday Night Live of stealing some if its members’ material this past weekend.

SNL’s most recent episode, hosted by Sarah Silverman, featured a skit called “River Sisters” in which Silverman and cast members Sasheer Zamata and Cecily Strong dress up like Tina Turner impersonators and parody Turner’s classic song “Proud Mary,” making the lyrics about their personal misfortune.

Groundlings’ Kimberly Condict and Vanessa Ragland suggested that their routine “Rollin'” was ripped off, in a some tweets posted Sunday, the AV Club reports. That sketch features the two comics dressed like Tina Turner impersonators who sing “Proud Mary” while using stage banter to confess personal aspirations and let-downs.

Groundlings instructor Ian Gary took to Facebook Monday morning to say that “over the years I have seen MANY, MANY sketches flat out stolen” by SNL. “Nobody says anything because I guess SNL is still some dream for some people or they don’t want to get involved, or a million other reasonable things that stop people from standing up for each other when things are blatantly wrong.”

NBC declined to comment.

[AV Club]

TIME celebrity

Sarah Silverman Discusses Poop and Feminism in New SNL Promo

The comedian returns to the show 20 years after her brief stint as a writer

Back in 1993, Sarah Silverman joined Saturday Night Live as a writer and performer. Things didn’t go too well, though, and she only lasted for one season. (See some of her clips here.) But now, two decades later, the famously potty-mouthed comedian is returning to Studio 8H — this time to host the show, which also features Maroon 5 as the musical guest.

Silverman teamed up with cast member Taran Killam for this week’s promos, which mostly consist of them goofing around. Silverman talks a little bit about poop, a little bit about feminism and a little bit about the importance of voting. Yeah, we can probably expect this show to be a weird one.

On a sort of but not really related note, here’s a video of Aubrey Plaza doing a spot-on Sarah Silverman impression:

 

TIME celebrities

Walmart Faults Tracy Morgan for Not Wearing Seatbelt in Limo Crash

Spike TV's "Don Rickles: One Night Only" - Show
Tracy Morgan speaks onstage at Spike TV's "Don Rickles: One Night Only" on May 6, 2014 in New York City. Theo Wargo—Getty Images for Spike TV

Injuries suffered by Morgan and fellow passengers "were caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device," company says in legal filing

Updated: 6:01 p.m.

Walmart said Monday that comedian Tracy Morgan and several others injured in an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike in June were partially responsible for their injuries, for failing to wear seatbelts.

A speeding Walmart driver allegedly hit Morgan’s limo on June 7, badly injuring the comedian and killing friend and colleague James McNair. Morgan and three others brought a suit against the company in July, alleging that driver Kevin Roper was fatigued and that Walmart acted negligently.

In a response Monday, the company largely refrained from responding to the allegations brought in the suit, citing National Transportation Safety Board regulations regarding ongoing investigations.

But in a list of affirmative defenses, the company said that the injuries “were caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device.”

“By failing to exercise ordinary care in making use of available seatbelts, upon information and belief, plaintiffs acted unreasonably and in disregard of plaintiffs’ own best interests,” the response says. “Accordingly, all or a portion of the injuries could have been diminished or minimized by the exercise of reasonable conduct in using the available seatbelts.”

Brooke Buchanan, a company spokesperson, provided an emailed statement on Monday.

“Walmart filed its official response to the plaintiffs’ lawsuit earlier today, and the company continues to stand willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs to resolve this matter,” said Brooke Buchanan, a Walmart spokesperson, in an emailed statement.

TIME movies

Watch Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey’s Crazy Antics in This New Dumb and Dumber To Trailer

Harry and Lloyd reunite to search for Harry's daughter

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are back as two dumb best friends in the long-awaited Dumb and Dumber To, which hits theaters this November.

In this sequel, which comes 20 years after the original, Harry and Lloyd reunite to search for Harry’s long lost daughter. Expect plenty of hijinks along the way.

 

TIME Television

The Story Behind Saturday Night Live’s Most Famous Line

Saturday Night Live
The season 1 cast of 'NBC's Saturday Night' NBC / Getty Images

SNL starts its 40th season without much competition — but that wasn't always the case

By now, Saturday Night Live—which kicks off its 40th season on Sept. 27 — is an institution. But when the show first started, it wasn’t even Saturday Night Live. When Chevy Chase uttered its famous catchphrase for the first time, live from New York it was literally Saturday Night—as in, the show was called Saturday Night. Hence, the wording.

The reason? There was another show premiering on ABC that season with a strangely similar name: Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell.

That show also debuted in 1975. It was also a variety show, though more focused on music—its premiere introduced the U.S. to the Bay City Rollers—than on comedy. And it was, at least based on TIME’s coverage that fall, the more noteworthy of the two. Describing a taping, with its “atmosphere as neon as a Hollywood première in the ’20s,” TIME heralded the show as something new: It was a “latter-day vaudeville” and the first live TV variety show since Ed Sullivan’s, with big names involved and a massive publicity push, plus “ill wishes hurled at it by Cosell haters and rival NBC and CBS offices.”

Of course, we know how this story ends. Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell has largely been forgotten; as for Saturday Night Live, well, it’s starting its 40th season.

The difference was clear from the start. The show then known as NBC’s Saturday Night was, TIME proclaimed, “the season’s surprise hit.” Dick Ebersol, the network exec who put the show together, said at the time that Saturday Night was NBC’s biggest hit among advertisers since the early ’50s, despite a cast of “mostly unknowns.” Though not every sketch worked, TIME said, the success was deserved:

SN‘s most endearing and human quality is its unevenness. Guest hosts participate in the sketches themselves and some write their own jokes too. Carlin set the pace on his, the first show, with a line that would make prime-time programmers blanch: “God can’t be perfect; everything he makes dies.” By the time Lily Tomlin came on to host the fifth show, SN had a cult following. She made it a smash, her double-edged style and swift undercuts setting off SN‘s frenzied variety. Suddenly, everyone wanted to act as host: Richard Pryor, Elliott Gould, Buck Henry, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, the British satirists, and this week Dick Cavett. The writers, of course, want someone a little different: King Olav of Norway, Patty Hearst (“but we don’t want to blow her defense”), Ernest and Julio Gallo with Cesar Chavez as their guest.

ABC’s Saturday Night Live was cancelled within a few months, and it wasn’t long before NBC nabbed the name.

Read the full review of the first season of SNL here, in TIME’s archives: Flakiest Night of the Week

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