TIME Television

See Classic Photos of Saturday Night Live

A look back at some memorable moments from the show's early years

In honor of Saturday Night Live‘s 40th season, take a look back at some classic moments from the early years of the iconic show.

TIME Television

Real-Life Olivia Pope Reveals What President George H.W. Bush Thinks of Scandal

'Love you. Want you. You left me!' the 90-year-old former president and Fitzpatrick Grant inspiration told P.R. professional Judy Smith

Olivia Pope, television phenom and Washington fixer extraordinaire, seems to have found a fan in George H.W. Bush.

Pope, the Kerry Washington character, is inspired by real-life crisis management pro Judy Smith, a consultant on the ABC show and one-time special assistant to Bush.

When the show departed from Smith’s own biography and showed Pope having an affair with the president, who as a Navy veteran and scion of a wealthy Republican political family is a Bush-like figure, Smith felt that she had to give the now 90-year-old former president a heads up.

“I had to quickly call President Bush to help frame the message. To help form the narrative before he heard from anyone else,” she told a crowd gathered Friday at the Nantucket Project, a conference on art and commerce, hours after the fourth season of the show premiered.

So Smith called Bush’s office, where they said he was proud of her and couldn’t wait to see the show. She insisted, however, that she needed to talk to him to explain something.

When he called back, she was in the middle of work and couldn’t pick up, but he left a message: “Love you. Want you. You left me! And by the way, this is the former leader of the free world. Call me.”

She called him back to say, “See? This is why I’m calling you now, you need some talking points!”

He replied, “I’m going to confirm the affair…I have young people working in my office now. They said I need to stay relevant, it’s good for my reputation.”

“I said, ‘Look now, if you don’t stay on these messages, I am going to call your boss,’” Smith remembers saying.

“You wouldn’t call Barbara, would you?,” the former president asked.

TIME Television

Neil deGrasse Tyson Voices a Pig In Disney’s Gravity Falls: First Look

Neil deGrasse Tyson records his role as "smart" Waddles for Gravity Falls. Lorenzo Bevilaqua—Disney XD

From scientist to... swine?

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the esteemed astrophysicist and host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, can now add “voice actor” to his resume after a recent stint voicing Waddles, a pig, in Disney’s Gravity Falls.

The show follows brother-sister duo Dipper and Mabel Pines on their supernatural misadventures in the fictional town of Gravity Falls, Oregon; Waddles is Mabel’s pet pig.

Neil deGrasse Tyson becomes the voice of Waddles in the upcoming episode, “Little Gift Shop of Horrors,” when the pet pig accidentally eats a bowl of brain-enhancing jelly giving it the mental know-how to create a machine that allows it to talk.

Neil deGrasse Tyson stars as “smart” Waddles in Gravity Falls. Disney XD

On his experience of voicing a pig, Neil deGrasse Tyson had this to say: “I’m a fan of helping anything get smarter. Even if it’s a pig.”

This episode of Gravity Falls premieres on Saturday, October 4 at 9pm during Disney Channel’s “Monstober” programming event.

Read more: Disney’s Gravity Falls Creator on How to Create a Show for All Ages

TIME Television

Watch a Late Night Host Smell Sofia Vergara’s Hair

He said it smelled like pudding

The host of Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen, took a whiff of Sofia Vergara’s hair on the show Thursday Night. Cohen said that it smelled delicious, like pudding, but Vergara pointed out that it was actually her perfume.

Vergara has a perfume on the market called “Sofia.” It took her a year to decide on the scent for her fragrance, according to her interview in Allure. The scent she decided on in the end is based off of fruits and florals– but not, as it turns out, pudding.

TIME Television

Where Are All the Angry Black Women?

#TGIT Premiere Event Hosted BY Twitter
Actress Viola Davis , the star of How To Get Away With Murder. Amanda Edwards—WireImage/Getty Images

Robin Givens on living with outdated stereotypes in a modern era

We’ve been hearing a lot of about angry black women this week. A New York Times television critic used that phrase recently to describe Shonda Rhimes, producer of breakthrough hit shows featuring African American women like Scandal, Gray’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder which premiered on Thursday. The Times piece launched a hot debate about race and the media prompting a long response from the paper’s public editor on Wednesday. That’s a conversation we should be having, but beyond those fundamental questions, the fracas left me wondering where the term “angry black women” originated and what goings on made the term stick.

By the time we’re adults, most black women have lots of reasons, big and small, to be furious whether it’s pay inequities or the outrageous injustices that are regularly inflicted upon our fathers, brothers, sons and husbands. But looking around, I don’t know where all the angry black women are. Mostly we’re working. Anger might just be a luxury we don’t have. And I’m not sure public fury is something we feel safe expressing even when we should.

Just this summer, a friend mine, well-educated, well-travelled, successful and black, offered to house sit and take care of my dog Grace. She’s done this before and usually her boyfriend would join her while she walked Grace in the park down the street from my home. On one particular night on their walk, three police cars pulled up and asked her what she and her boyfriend were doing. Stunned, scared and confused, she cautiously replied “walking the dog.” They showed their ID to the officers and went on their way. My friend then phoned to tell me what had happened. She was clearly shaken but not angry, though she had every right to be.

Before that, I spent weeks watching Trayvon Martin’s mother defend her murdered son with strength and grace but never anger, an emotion she had every right to under the circumstances. I thought of my sons and wondered how she kept the rage at bay. But she did. And now there’s Michael Brown, and another mother suffering but not raging.

When I explain to my sons (who happen to be half white ) that while their friends jump fences to take the shortcut home , they absolutely should not. Why? They ask me. I search for the right words. I resent that I have to have this conversation with them, I resent that I worry about them when they pull up their hoodies. Does this make me an angry black woman?

I was raised being told that education is the great equalizing factor in America, but the officers in my Southern California neighborhood didn’t ask about my friend’s expensive degree when they stopped her. I don’t know what they were thinking. And while I do know that so very much has changed since my mother had to enter through the back door in order to go to the movies in Lexington, Ky., so much has remained the same. And that includes having a TV critic look at Shonda Rhimes’ career and decide to measure the complex black female characters she’s brought into our lives against a cartoonish stereotype.

The piece should serve as reminder that it is still remarkable to see 49-year-old Viola Davis as the star of a prime time drama, and, for that matter, to see Michelle Obama in the White House. This is because we are still being measured against those stereotypes and still learning to climb past them. Legendary actress Ruby Dee once told me that for black women, life is “like going to the ocean and only being allowed a cup of it.” And when I think of Shonda Rhimes and what she has done with that cup, I’m proud. She is gloriously swimming in the all of it and furthermore, she brings friends … Viola Davis, Kerry Washington to name a few.

When I look at Tea Leoni or Kerry Washington I don’t see much difference between them. When I look at Viola Davis and Meryl Streep I am in awe, equally. But as a black actress and black woman, I realize that Davis and Washington’s roads have been very different from their counterparts. Narrower and steeper to say the least.

And for the black women who are watching these actresses move ascend in the cultural universe, there’s pride. Rhimes’ heroines are us. We don’t spend our days talking about being black, and we come in different shapes and sizes, and yes different colors. Some of us are weak and some of us are strong. And some of us are even angry, especially when someone who has no experience in our world makes a judgement about what we’re feeling.

TIME Television

Who Should Be the Two Other Leads in the Second Season of True Detective?

True Detective
From left: Michael Fassbender, Rachel McAdams, Russell Crowe Getty Images (3)

There is no shortage of rumored contenders

On Tuesday, HBO announced that two of the leads for the upcoming season of True Detective would be Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell. In that very same press release, it was also confirmed that there were still two other leads yet to be cast. According to most reports, those two remaining roles will be filled by a man and a woman.

In the last 48 hours, rumors have swirled that the network is set to tab Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers, The Notebook) and Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights, Lone Survivor) to fill out the lead cast. Until that time, however, viewers are free to speculate wildly and voice their opinions about all the actors who have been rumored for the cast — even those who have denied their involvement or the ones that seem highly improbable. But in this poll, all things are possible.

Cast your votes below:

TIME Television

When Worlds Collide: 10 Classic TV Crossovers

In honor of the Simpsons-Family Guy crossover episode, here are 10 iconic TV mash-ups

  • The Simpsons meets Family Guy

    FAMILY GUY: The Griffin family drops in for a visit with the Simpson family in the special one-hour “The Simpsons Guy” season premiere crossover event (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FAMILY GUY on FOX.  FAMILY GUY and THE SIMPSONS 2014 ™ and © TCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    Two of the most famous animated families in entertainment history are set to meet on Sept. 28, when the Griffins go on a road trip that makes an unexpected stop in Springfield. Peter and Homer bro out, Stewie and Bart cause trouble and even Bob from Bob’s Burgers even makes a cameo in this self-aware crossover.

  • Mad About You meets Seinfeld

    Crossover-happy Mad About You (Friends and The Dick Van Dyke Show—sort of, since the show was no longer on the air at the time—got their turns too) met Seinfeld when viewers learned that Kramer was subletting Paul’s old apartment.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Angel

    Angel got his start on Buffy, so it was inevitable that the soulful vampire would encounter the slayer once the shows split. In 1999, after having a vision that Buffy was endangered, Angel made a return trip to Sunnydale—spurring her to follow him home.

  • Homicide: Life on the Streets meets Law and Order

    Homicide and L&O worked together whenever a case involved both Baltimore and New York. As producer Dick Wolf confesses in this interview—the crossovers were “a pain in the ass” meant to annoy the network, but they worked.

  • Full House meets Family Matters

    In one of several crossovers to take place in the family of ABC’s TGIF programming block, Family Matters’ Steve Urkel gives some much-needed advice to Full House’s Stephanie Tanner as she gets new glasses and deals with low self-confidence.

  • Ally McBeal meets The Practice

    What does Ally’s law firm do when they need to consult with a lawyer with more homicide experience? Bring in the crew from The Practice, obviously. (The more interesting factoid about this episode: the two shows shared an executive producer but aired on different networks, causing heartache for the The Practice‘s ABC.)

  • Cheers meets St. Elsewhere

    In 1985, the doctors from St. Elsewhere visited the Cheers bar. According to the episode’s writer, the medical show wanted to do a scene where the staff discussed their lives over drinks, and they pretty much figured ‘Why not at thatbar?’

  • All My Children meets One Life to Live

    It’s difficult to know where to start with soap-opera crossovers…but it’s pretty hard to top a baby-swap. In this plot line, One Life to Live and All My Children families ended up with each others’ childr

  • Everybody Loves Raymond meets King of Queens

    In the 1999 King of Queens episode “Rayny Day” Ray Romano’s Everybody Loves Raymond character stops by to play golf with Kevin James, his cross-sitcom buddy. (It wasn’t the first example of a crossover between the two CBS shows, and Ray Barone was also friends, in another crossover, with Fran from The Nanny.)

  • The Flintstones meets The Jetsons

    In the 1987 TV movie The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, two opposite ends of history collide when Elroy Jetson’s time machine transports his futuristic family back to the much-less-modern Stone Age. It wasn’t the only time the Flintstone family met some incongruous toons: a cartoon version of the Bewitched crew briefly served as their next-door neighbors in 1965.

TIME Television

Everything You Need to Know About the Simpsons-Family Guy Crossover

The cartoon crossover returns Sunday night

Homer Simpson, meet Peter Griffin.

That’s right — this Sunday night will bring another entry in a time-honored (if often lowbrow) tradition of American television: the cartoon crossover. When the 13th season of Family Guy premieres on Fox, it will do so in the form of a one-hour “Smashtacular” crossover with The Simpsons, an episode titled simply, “The Simpsons Guy.”

This episode has everything fans are likely to expect, from self-referential humor to a fight between the two shows’ oafish patriarchs. When Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly confirmed the air date a few months back, he boasted that “generations of fans will be talking about this one.”

That’s a little over-ambitious (sort of like Homer trying to spell the word “smart”), especially since, as any self-respecting Simpsons purist knows, the show that redefined animated TV hasn’t actually been good for well over a decade. Still, the wall-to-wall marathon on FXX of every Simpsons episode ever gave even fans who moved on long ago an excuse to rekindle their love of the once-great show.

Family Guy took the same never-aging, family-of-five (not counting Brian Griffin) cartoon-sitcom format and infused it with a raunchiness and unparalleled use of random-cutaway humor. So an unholy mix of both shows means more than enough reason to watch Sunday night.

Before you tune in at 9 p.m. E.T., here’s everything you need to know about the crossover to end all crossovers.

Sure, I’ll bite. What’s the premise?

Based on the trailers Fox has released and the morsels of information the show’s producers have doled out to a hungry fan base, we know that the Griffins of Family Guy fame are forced to leave their Rhode Island town of Quahog and find themselves in the Simpson family’s hometown of Springfield, State Unknown. After the relatively more normal-looking Peter Griffin observes that the yellowish characters of Springfield look “like they have hepatitis,” they strike up a relationship with the Simpson family.

Sounds promising. Tell me more!

Well, Homer and Peter bond over their love of donuts, Marge Simpson and Lois Griffin connect over their slothful husbands, and Bart Simpson and little Stewie Griffin find common cause in their taste for trouble. “It’s really about the character interaction,” Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane recently told Entertainment Weekly. “People want to see Peter interact with Homer. They want to see Bart interact with Stewie. In a way, the story in a crossover episode, while it has to be there, is never quite as important as how the characters interact with each other.”

Will there be playful cartoon violence?

Indeed, there will be. The highlight of the official trailer shows Peter offering up Homer his hometown beer, Pawtucket Patriot Ale. Homer tries it, disses it as a rip-off of his favorite beer Duff, and a bit of clever self-reference about both shows — always something each show has done well — and their shared lineage ensues.

Homer: “It’s just a lousy rip off!”

Peter: “Hey whoa,whoa, whoa, it’s not a rip-off of Duff! It may have been inspired by Duff, but I, I like to think it goes in a different direction.”

Long story short, it comes to blows — scroll to the 2:11-mark of the trailer at top to see it. Hey, at least Peter isn’t fighting a chicken this time.

What else should I know?

Well, there’s already some controversy over a rape joke depicted in the trailer. Stewie, witnessing Bart’s penchant for crank-calling Moe’s Tavern, wants to give it a try himself. But he goes, well, in a slightly different route when Moe picks up the phone: “Hello, Moe? Your sister’s being raped!”

That joke has drawn headlines, especially at a moment of heightened awareness of sexual violence. Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, told CBS News that he wrote to Fox, MacFarlane and Simpsons creator Matt Groening to try to get the joke taken out of the episode but got no response. “I was blown out of my shoes when I saw the scene with the rape joke in it,” Winter said. “It really troubled me.”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, MacFarlane both anticipated and dismissed the criticism. “But in context it’s pretty funny,” he said.

Scroll to the 48-second mark in the trailer to see the controversial moment.

Sounds like pretty standard fare for Family Guy.

Right you are, and in fact, one could find more explicit sexual violence in a strange on-screen promo appeared during a different Family Guy episode. Watch it below.

Any promising cameos?

Not that we know of, unless you’re into a show called Bob’s Burgers.

Wasn’t there a Simpsons crossover before?

Yes, and since it came before the show’s downward slide, it was quite good. It featured Jay Sherman (voiced by Jon Lovitz) of the short-lived Fox show The Critic.

Thanks for all this, but I think I’ll just stick with the first nine seasons of The Simpsons.

You can’t be faulted for bad taste — it is, after all, the height of American TV comedy. Test your knowledge with this quiz and enjoy the video below.

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

TIME Television

How to Get Away With Murder Is Everything You Love In One Show

"How to Get Away with Murder" stars Viola Davis as Professor Annalise Keating. Craig Sjodin—ABC

Shonda can't be stopped

Let’s look at the facts: it’s pretty likely that Peter Nowalk’s wildly enjoyable How to Get Away With Murder (executive produced by Shonda Rhimes), premiering Thursday at 10 p.m., will be a success.

The law school/court room/inside-the-criminal-mind drama is built to succeed: it’s an amalgam of the most addictive television out there in one, hour-long segment. That’s not to say that the show is derivative — it isn’t. Rather, Murder hones in on some of the best elements of shows — and movies — we love. (Please note that this is based on the pilot, so — as is common in Shondaland — all trends are subject to change.)

1. Scandal, of course, is the most obvious comparison. Both shows are about strong and emotionally complex (but distinctly not angry… sorry!) black women. More specifically, the show is about fixers who go in and out of morally ambiguous cases and make them all better by morally ambiguous means. It’s just that Olivia Pope (a political consultant) is doing it in a perfectly tailored long coat, while Annalise Keating (a lawyer and law professor played by Viola Davis) prefers a form-fitting red leather jacket.

2. Given Rhimes’ penchant for dark story lines, we also won’t be surprised if Davis also divines elements of Glenn Close from Damages. Her character, after all, was also a brilliant lawyer who often required her proteges to bend the rules for optimal results.

3. Just like Legally Blonde (or in this case… Legally Leather?), law students are competing for a prize. The top four students in Keating’s class will get to work at her law firm, complete with creepy associates who try to sleep with pretty law students.

4. They show their worth in lecture classes. If the pilot reflects the usual format of episodes, classes begin with Keating introducing her students to a client. Similar to House, students then must rush to find a treatment that will save said client’s life. Step-by-step, they recite different motives, defenses, and courtroom tactics that can lead to an acquittal. The unexpected argument is often rewarded.

5. In true ensemble fashion, the student cohort plays just as big of a role as the show’s headlining star. This is also because, in the first minutes of the first episode, the audience is let in on a secret: four star students are trying to get away with a murder themselves by ditching a body in the woods. (I Know What You Did Last Summer, anyone?) The pilot alternates between the students’ first week of classes to their scramble to hide their crime at the end of the semester.

6. The group of students will be bonded by their secrecy. Will Murder be Pretty Little Liars, but for adults?

7. Like Grey’s Anatomy, Murder revels in outlandish and overly-dramatic scenarios in real-life professions. It is different from other current law firm shows that try to have a steadier grip on reality. According to Nowalk, “I’m trying to write in the tradition of the legal thrillers of the ’80s and ’90s that they would make all the time that were just fun and juicy and jagged edge.”

Funny — we thought there was a little bit of Grisham thrown in for good measure.

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