The New Guilded Age
Time for a new Contract with America? Comedy news for the week: Jan. 23-29, 2023
Our top story in the world of comedy from last week…
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SNL Film Unit Set To Strike?
The Motion Picture Editors Guild came out last week in support of the newly organized film unit at NBC’s Saturday Night Live, who piece together the pre-taped short films for SNL in post-production, and who voted to form a union in October. They have yet to sign a contract with NBCUniversal. As MPEG (heh heh) stated last week: “The editorial crew of @nbcsnl’s film unit works long hours under intense pressure, bringing pre-shot skits to the screen in record time. But @NBCUniversal seems in no hurry to make a deal. The crew is standing together to demand a contract now!”
SNL aired a new episode over the weekend (hosted by Michael B. Jordan) with multiple pre-taped elements, so no strike or walkout or sick-out as of yet. Curiously, the show also shared a “Behind The Scenes” video from a pre-tape on the previous week’s episode: “M3GAN 2.0.” I type curiously, because this sketch relied on post-production but failed to mention that. Also: Who edited this video?
It’d be fascinating to watch a purely LIVE SNL, but also, tremendous to see workers stand up for themselves and unionize once more.
In slightly related news…
ICYMI: UCB $$$ Performers Now?!
Earlier this month (Jan. 18), the new iteration of The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre held a town hall both in-person in New York City and over Zoom, hosted by Solomon Hinton (head of People & Culture at UCB, hired in Fall 2022, formerly with Studio71 and The Collective) including new owner Mike McAvoy and the new UCB-NY artistic directors. They spoke about relaunching in NYC (still looking for a suitable space), creating an actual HR environment for hiring, discipline, diversity and whatnot, and MONEY!
The big debate over payment vs. exposure for stage time has been a recurring fixture of the comedy community, from the 1979 strike by stand-ups at The Comedy Store to the uproar by stand-ups who wondered why they weren’t getting paid at UCB shows in NYC in 2013.
At the Jan. 18 UCB Town Hall, the new artistic directors were given the honor of announcing the new payment system.
Christine Bullen, the UCB-LA artistic director, said all of the 600 performers who’ve taken to the Franklin stage in the past three months have been paid according to this system, with payments based on recoupment defined as 45 of the 90 tickets sold. To wit: A sold-out show would then split the revenue, 50 percent for the performers, from the other 45 tickets sold.
Mark Your Calendars
If you watched the NFC Championship game on FOX, then you might’ve noticed a brief tease for Roseanne Barr in between footage of the American football men of Philadelphia and San Francisco.
FOX Nation's Roseanne Barr: Cancel This! will premiere in two weeks: Monday, Feb. 13. It marks Roseanne’s first hour stand-up comedy special in almost two decades, filmed in Houston at the Cullen Theatre. FOX Nation also plans to air Who Is Roseanne Barr?, an in-depth look inside the life and career of the comedian and actress.
NBC Plans 90th Birthday Party For Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love, a two-hour primetime special, is on the NBC schedule for April 26, 2023. The evening will include musical performances from Bernadette Peters, Billy Porter, Jane Lynch, Katy Perry, Kristin Chenoweth, and special guest appearances by Aileen Quinn, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Bob Mackie, Cher, Ellen DeGeneres, Julie Andrews, Kristen Wiig, Laura Dern, Lily Tomlin, Marisa Tomei, Sofia Vergara, Steve Carell, Susan Lucci, Tracee Ellis Ross, Vicki Lawrence, and many more.
What could go wrong?!?!? (cough cough Betty White)
God bless Carol Burnett and please keep her safe until then!
This Week In Men Who Have Behaved Badly
Eric Weinberg, a former writer/producer on Scrubs and staffer on Veronica’s Closet, Californication, and Anger Management, is facing 12 more sexual assault lawsuits. Now 62, Weinberg already had seven other women accusing him of rape. That number now is up to 20, with incidents from 1998 to 2019. He’s being held without bail, having his bail revoked last fall.
Adult Swim and Hulu have cut ties to Justin Roiland, the co-creator of Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites. News broke earlier this month that Roiland faces domestic violence charges. Multiple other women have come forward with allegations about his behavior toward them.
Louis CK, meanwhile, sold out Madison Square Garden performing in the round to upward of 18,000 fans, and sold at least 32,000 additional tickets at $25 ($28.75 with fees) for a live-streaming ticket to watch the performance online through Feb. 17.
Industry News and Notes
CNN will indeed add comedians to the news channel — first up, starting this Friday at 11:30 p.m. Eastern, CNN will begin airing the “Overtime” segments that follow HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher.
Vice TV has ordered Super Maximum Retro Show, hosted by Chris Distefano, and coming from Jimmy Kimmel’s Kimmelot and ITV America. It’s based on the nostalgic Twitter feed Super70sSports. Series premieres March 7, featuring videos, photos, ads and games from the past, with guest panelists including Hasan Minaj, Roy Wood Jr., Chris Redd, Matteo Lane, Judy Gold, Chris Gethard, Adam Pally and others.
Larry Wilmore would write, EP and star in his own version of Larry Sanders at ABC, as his Lately would go behind the scenes of a late-night talk show.
Max Barbakow (Palm Springs) has sold his next film to Amazon Studios. It’s a body-swap comedy starring Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston.
HBO Max is developing Unfriendly Black Hotties from Keke Palmer, Jermaine Crawford, and Amy Aniobi, a series described as “comedic satire exploring Gen-Z’s weaponization of political correctness told through the eyes of four high-school girls.”
Ayo Edebiri (The Bear) will have a role in the upcoming MCU film, Thunderbolts.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge will EP a series adaptation of Claudia Lux’s novel, “Sign Here,” as part of her development deal with Amazon.
FOX is developing single-cam Get Buckets from EP/writers Stephen Falk, Allen Maldonado, Darrell Britt-Gibson, and Brandon Mychal Smith, with the latter trio starring as three estranged brothers who must band together following their billionaire father’s untimely death to figure out how to run the pro basketball team he left behind.
FOX has ordered seasons 14-15 for Bob's Burgers, seasons 22-23 of Family Guy and seasons 35-36 for The Simpsons.
CBS has renewed Bob <3 Abishola, starring Billy Gardell and Folake Olowofoyeku. In its fourth season, the sitcom is averaging 5.99 million viewers in its Monday 8:30 p.m. time slot. The Neighborhood will also get another season. In its fifth season, The Neighborhood, starring Cedric The Entertainer, Max Greenfield, Tichina Arnold, Beth Behrs, is averaging 6.13 million viewers in its Monday at 8:00 p.m. time slot.
Adult Swim has ordered five new episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The feature film, Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm, which debuts on HBO Max Feb. 8 and on Adult Swim March 12 at midnight.
Cancelled (no, but for real cancel cancelled)
CNBC has cancelled Jay Leno’s Garage after seven seasons, unrelated to Leno’s most recent motorcycle accident but very much related to CNBC programming changes away from lifestyle series.
TBS has cancelled Rat in the Kitchen with Natasha Leggero. Will the last original Turner show please close the door behind you?
Last Week’s Specials
New on YouTube (self-released unless otherwise noted; excluding old specials released on the platform, and anything under a half-hour)
Dan Nightingale: Smasher (via Have A Word pod)
Phil Pointer: Sweat It Out (via Four by Three)
Drew Lynch: Concussed (via 800 Pound Gorilla Media)
New on Amazon (for rent/sale)
THIS WEEK: 6 (Previous subtotal: 22) Running total for 2023: 28 stand-up specials!
Katie Hannigan performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden
Cathy Ladman performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Fun Things To Do In NYC
This week’s show(s) I plugged in The New York Times: I plugged Nikki Glaser’s tour stop at the Beacon Theatre!
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