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'SNL' Review: A New Hope with Chris Pratt

The seasons have certainly changed at Saturday Night Live. The show's 40th season began with an episode that hardly resembled a season premiere, with little pomp or circumstance over SNL's impressive four-decade lifespan, and in its place a straightforward night of comedy that reflected a show well adjusted to its new lineup. Nerves did occasionally get the better of the performers — especially first-time host Chris Pratt, who coasted on his signature goofy charm, flashing that Andy Dwyer "oops" face a few times – but overall the episode charged forward with a leaner (and more colorful) cast, and a greater confidence in its sense of humor.

We aren't out of the woods just yet, though. SNL's live sketches suffer [...]

Andy Samberg Tells Seth Meyers About His Never Aired 'SNL' Characters

Here's a clip from Andy Samberg's visit to the Late Night desk last night, where he and Meyers talk about the new season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine as well as two of Samberg's SNL characters named Gerald and Gerard who never made it past the read-through table. Watch more from the interview below:

Jack Handey Looks Back on Working with Phil Hartman on 'SNL'

"Several times since Phil's death, I've had the same dream about him: I am back in the studio, working on Saturday Night Live, and Phil is there! 'Phil,' I say, 'I thought you were dead!' It turns out that it was a mistake that Phil was dead, or that now he's some type of reanimated zombie. All I know is I am very happy to see him again."

- Jack Handey looks back on writing SNL sketches for Phil Hartman in a new piece for Slate. Today would have been Hartman's 66th birthday.

Here's the Very First 'SNL' Season 40 Promo with Chris Pratt and Kate McKinnon

Saturday Night Live's 40th season kicks off this weekend with host Chris Pratt, and NBC released the above promo reel featuring Pratt and returning cast member Kate McKinnon talking Guardians of the Galaxy, getting bleeped for curse words, and taking advantage of Pratt's super strength to open some pickle jars.

Ana Gasteyer Issues a Public Apology to Martha Stewart on 'Late Night'

It took some time, but on last night's Late Night, Ana Gasteyer finally mustered the courage to apologize to Martha Stewart for the many times she's mocked and impersonated her on SNL and beyond. It's an honest and detailed apology, so hopefully Martha can find it in her heart to forgive.

Bill Hader Explains Why He Turned Down a Stefon Movie

"There had been talk about a Stefon movie. It was a very cordial thing of Lorne Michaels coming to me and [then-SNL writer] John Mulaney and saying 'Paramount is asking about this. What do you guys think?' He pretty much just left it up to us. 'You are the guys who are gonna have to write it, so you decide.' John and I pretty quickly said no. Because in our mind, it never worked as a sketch. It was a nice thing that lived on Weekend Update, and it should probably only live on SNL and that's that."

- Bill Hader explains why he and John Mulaney turned down a [...]

'SNL' Co-Head Writer Bryan Tucker Reflects on Working with Kenan Thompson

"We trust his instincts implicitly. He's been doing TV and movies almost every week since he was 15 years old … He has the same ease in front of a camera that most of us do when driving a car. It's why he's the guy who sits next to the host when we read all of that week's sketches out loud for the first time. It's why occasionally during rehearsal, he will say, 'Don't you think we should do this line in a close-up?' And our Emmy-winning director, without hesitation, will say, 'Yep,' and note the change in his book."

- Current co-head writer of SNL Bryan Tucker explains the [...]

James Franco's 'SNL' Documentary Is Available This Friday on Hulu Plus

The SNL documentary James Franco filmed way back in 2008 will finally be available to view this week. Franco shared the news on Instagram last night that the documentary, called Saturday Night, has found a home on Hulu Plus and will be released this Friday. The documentary — which began as a short NYU film project but turned into a full 90-minute feature centered on John Malkovich's week as SNL host — was originally set to be released through Focus Features back in March 2013 but since fell though. Saturday Night features cast members from season 34 including Bill Hader, Will Forte, Bobby Moynihan, Casey Wilson, and [...]

Leslie Jones, Mike O'Brien, LaKendra Tookes, and More Have Reportedly Left the 'SNL' Writing Staff

Saturday Night Live updated the "About" section of their website this week to include newly hired writers Alison Rich, Jeremy Beiler, Natasha Rothwell, Streeter Seidell, and Nick Rutherford, but even more important are some of the names that are no longer credited as full-time writers this year. According to the SNL website, season 39 writers Leslie Jones, Paula Pell, Marika Sawyer, LaKendra Tookes, and Mike O'Brien will not be officially returning to the writing staff. Sawyer has moved on from SNL to work with John Mulaney on his new Fox sitcom, Paula Pell (who has been an SNL writer since 1995) is currently busy working on [...]

Bill Hader Tells Craig Ferguson About His 'Silence of the Lambs' Talk Show Sketch Idea

Bill Hader stopped by The Late Late Show last night, where he told Ferguson about one of his favorite scrapped SNL sketch ideas called "The Jame Gumb Talk Show" that Ferguson begged him to come back and perform sometime. Unfortunately the rest of the cast and writers at SNL weren't as excited about the sketch idea as Hader, Seth Meyers, and John Mulaney were.

Bill Hader Impersonates Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, and Jason Sudeikis on 'Conan'

It's hard to say what's more entertaining from this clip of Bill Hader's Conan appearance — is it his impersonations of fellow SNL alums Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, and a forever gum-chewing Jason Sudeikis, or his impersonation of Fred Armisen's impersonation of him? Either way it's a clip filled with Hader doing a bunch of silly voices, and he even throws in a little Donald Duck for good measure.

Kenan Thompson on the Rumor He's Leaving 'SNL': "You Don't Have to Worry About Stuff Like That"

Longtime SNL cast member Kenan Thompson made a brief appearance on this morning's Today show, where he was asked about the recent rumors that he'll be leaving the NBC sketch show at the end of this season and offered a vague response: "You don't have to worry about that stuff like that," Thompson said. "We have to worry about the premiere Saturday — its the 40th anniversary. That's what we need to focus on." Watch out for a quick appearance near the end from a highly offended Andy Samberg.

What to Expect From 'SNL' Season 40

SNL returns for its 40th season this Saturday, with host Chris Pratt, musical guest Ariana Grande, and pretty much the same cast — minus a handful of people we rarely saw in sketches anyway. Following a lackluster season, Lorne Michaels is now sticking with the tools he's got, replacing five departing cast members with only one newcomer — standup Pete Davidson — and promoting writer Michael Che to co-host Weekend Update. Meanwhile, Colin Jost will remain at the desk after taking on the job last February. It's a conservative approach, compared to last year's throw-everything-against-the-wall casting strategy, which resulted in a cast so overpopulated that some remained literal faces in the crowd at the season's [...]

Saturday Night's Children: Chevy Chase (1975-1976)

Saturday Night Live has been home to over a hundred cast members throughout the past 39 years. In our column Saturday Night’s Children, we present the history, talent, and best sketches of one SNL cast member every other week for your viewing, learning, and laughing pleasure.

As much as SNL's debut season cast needed to mesh and support each other during the early years, they also needed to set precedents for seasons to come — such as abandoning the show for wider Hollywood success. Chevy Chase wasted no time setting such a precedent, leaving the show not long after his very first season; he was originally hired as a [...]