News Briefs: Saturday Night Live Has Hired a Black Female Cast Member

By Tim Surette

Jan 07, 2014

PUT THOSE MICHELLE OBAMA WIGS DOWN, JAY PHAROAH AND KENAN THOMPSON

... Saturday Night Live has hired a black female cast member! And it only took the outrage of a nation to make it happen. Brooklynite Sasheer Zamata, who's just three years out of college and a member of Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, will make her debut on the sketch show in the January 18 episode. Thus ends the nightmare of a country that late last year suddenly realized there hadn't been a black female cast member on SNL since Maya Rudolph left, so now Saturday Night Live gets to pat itself on the back for diversifying beyond the white male. This was a terrible mess for all parties involved. Thank the Lorne it's over. (And I wish you luck, Zamata.) [NBC via press release]

Also, here she is performing standup!


BUSINESS TIME

... Downton Abbey kicked off its fourth season in America yesterday, and the ratings were strong enough to knock the monocle out of your eye and right into your tea! 10.2 million viewers tuned in to the period drama to set a PBS record, up 22 percent from last year's tally. [EW]

... Oh yeah, British fogeys? You are NO MATCH for American football! 47 million people watched the Santa Clara San Francisco 49ers defeat the Green Bay Packers in the Really Cold Bowl on Sunday. That's a lot of people, and good enough for Fox's seventh-highest broadcast (not including Super Bowls) in history. [Deadline Hollywood]

... ABC Family is riding the success of its original comedies Melissa & Joey and Baby Daddy (yep) and has ordered a pair of new sitcoms to series. Mystery Girls stars ex-90210 frenemies Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth as two former child actors who once starred on a mystery kids show and who end up starting their own detective agency as adults. Young & Hungry stars Hannah Montana's Emily Osment as a food blogger who's trying to become a personal chef for a young internet entrepreneur. Both shows will premiere this year. I can't wait. [ABC Family via press release]

... On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, HBO is in the process remaking a French porn comedy. Men in Trees' Jenny Bicks will adapt Hard for U.S. audiences, and it will follow a Brentwood housewife who inherits her husband's porn business. [Variety]

... Sundance Channel has finally put a premiere date on its upcoming original series The Red Road. The drama, about a sheriff who's caught between two warring communities—one of which is a group of Native Americans, will debut February 27 at 9pm. Considering Sundance's flawless track record so far, this is something to keep an eye on. Plus, it stars Khal Drogo! Apparently a trailer was released in December but Sundance didn't say anything about it, so I've embedded it below. [Deadline Hollywood]

... The passed-over comedy pilot starring The Office's Craig Robinson as a music teacher in high school... remember that? Well it is back! Mr. Robinson—starring Mr. Robinson as a music teacher who's too cool for school rules—has been ordered to series by NBC less than a year after the network passed on it to (presumably) make way for such acclaimed comedies such as Welcome to the Family and Sean Saves the World. No word on when it will air. [Variety]

... Do you own an Xbox One but all you have is that crap game Ryse? Sucks to be you, then. But now you can do something else with it: Watch FX's Chozen before the rest of the Xbone-less population! The animated comedy, about a gay rapper who's fresh out of prison, is now available on Xbox One's FXNOW app to preview before its January 13 premiere on FX. [FX via press release]

... Queen Latifah's talk show (Queen Latifah has a talk show!) The Queen Latifah Show has been renewed for a second season. [Deadline Hollywood]


CASTING NEWS


... Game of Thrones will see a THIRD actor—Hafthor Julius Bjornsson (and that's his real name, not a Game of Thrones name)—play Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, and he's posted a picture of himself in the role. [Instagram]

... Jonah Hill will host the January 25 episode of Saturday Night Live, with musical guest Bastiell. It'll be Hill's third time hosting. (Drake will host and play music when the show returns from its winter break on January 18.) [NBC via press release]


THE AD THAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT 

... This weekend, Old Spice unveiled its newest commercial, and now we all need to gather 'round and decide whether we like it or not:


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  • Dirk13 Jan 08, 2014

    ... I don't know how I feel about this SNL hire. Oh no, I have no issue with them hiring a black woman, it is about time they did that again, and I hope she turns out to be really funny. I guess I'm just a little uncomfortable that it's in direct response to this "outage" (seriously, if not for the aptly funny sketch they did last fall pointing it out, I wasn't even aware it was a news worthy story).

    So I guess it just feels weird that, mid season no less, and after they already hired a lot of new people and are getting kinks worked out, to stuff a relatively fresh new person (overall) in there on top of that, merely because she's a black woman (ok the funniest black woman among those they auditioned presumably, but still, her being black was the most important part).

    I guess it's just a bit odd to me. It would be similar if they went that much out of their way to hire a fat guy because they lost their token one. Mind you, I understand that this has far further reaching civil implications than that, I just think it's odd when a hire's main feature takes a back seat to simply how funny they are (actually, Keenan Thomspon was recently quoted in an interview saying they would have probably hired a black female again sooner, but they just hadn't been terribly lucky finding someone qualified and seasoned enough).

  • LeePierce Jan 08, 2014

    Wow, that ad makes me think of my mom... probably not their intention.

  • Laurpr2 Jan 08, 2014

    Wait, is Maya Rudolph black??????

  • antmorris3511 Jan 08, 2014

    She's interracial, making her genetically about as black as most who'd identify as such.
    I like SNL but havent seen it in years. I always loved Debra Wilson, so I often chose Madtv over SNL. (Not to discount SNL, the show delivered some of the funniest moments in tv history.)

  • zeofan1 Jan 08, 2014

    "So now Saturday Night Live gets to pat itself on the back for diversifying beyond the white male."

    I had know idea Tracy Morgan, Kenan Thompson, TIna Fey, Amy Poehler, and other such comedians were 'white men' for having appeared on SNL. I guess this makes Sasheer a white man now, too. Good to know.

  • antmorris3511 Jan 08, 2014

    SNL gave us Eddie Murphy and Garret Morris (who was somewhat established prior to appearing on SNL. SNL was halfway decent for diversity, but not like some others. Mad tv seemed to have more female players.

  • Dirk13 Jan 08, 2014

    Now if SNL hired Richard Pryor, THAT would be controversial and interesting...primarily because it means they would now be hiring dead comedians as well, and I think it's about time we had one of those on the show.

  • zeofan1 Jan 09, 2014

    NEEDS MORE DEADVERSITY. Make it happen. :D

  • zeofan1 Jan 08, 2014

    Like, I'm sure she's a good actress and all. It's nice they have a (probably) funny actress who can cover impersonations on black female celebrities. I'm just not into sex-based or race-based attacks on anyone, no matter who they are.

  • Gergely2429 Jan 07, 2014

    *Bastille

  • torque_smacky Jan 07, 2014

    Time to mute every single ad break on Adult Swim for the next two months.

  • MissMunchkin Jan 07, 2014

    That ad is creepy.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 07, 2014

    "Over"? They frustratingly only considered hiring someone like her as a token, it's not like the management at SNL has changed, they simply are putting a bandage on a serious mindset problem.

    Good christ, make that Old Spice ad go away, that made me want to barf.

  • osdawaya16 Jan 07, 2014

    That ad freaks me out. It's...wrong. I heard the audio on YouTube (wasn't watching videos, just using it for music) before I saw it and the visual just makes it worse. Yikes.

  • DesolaKazeem Jan 07, 2014

    I'm black and it really bothers me how this is being sprawled over headlines. Not because 'wow it's been that long since we've seen a BLACK WOMAN on SNL?(varying number of exclamation marks here)' or whatever, but because something just seems really off about the way the whole thing is being reported. Tim seems to be a bit more self aware than some of the other posters I've seen of this 'news' though.

    It's good news for the performer (she doesn't seem bad, and she'll hopefully have good chemistry with the rest of the cast), I suppose, and the SNL executives' must be really patting themselves on the back with this one, but I'm only mostly indifferent/vaguely hopeful. Almost the entire season so far has veered on unwatchable, with the rare bright spots being the Lady Gaga, Kerry Washington and Jimmy Fallon hosted shows.

    I still fondly watch clips of a far superior sketch show, MADtv on YouTube, and wish it was still on the air, or at least SNL could be a bit more like it. Fingers crossed that along with Zamata, they're hiring some more talented, sharper, wittier writers for the show's return, whether male, female, hermaphrodite, white or purple.

  • wudntulik2know Jan 07, 2014

    I still fondly watch clips of a far superior sketch show, MADtv on YouTube, and wish it was still on the air,

    Early MADtv was wonderful, the one with SPY vs SPY, the later MADtv was shit. And Second City, another brilliant show.

    or at least SNL could be a bit more like it.

    Not in a million, billion years.

    the SNL executives' must be really patting themselves on the back with this one,

    Of course, because they're rich white men who belong to the same country club.

    Are we supposed to be jumping up and down about this? We here are NOT the Duck Dynasty crowd, we actually know how to string a sentence together.

    Michaels is part of the good old boy's club, and this is just a token hire.

  • MandySCG Jan 07, 2014

    I miss MADtv!

  • antmorris3511 Jan 08, 2014

    It was seriously underrated and SNL had so many loyalist.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 07, 2014

    I'm white and it bothers me too for the same reason.

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