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SNL Explores Santa’s Naughty List

It’s that time of the year to determine who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, and Saturday Night Live jumped in with its two cents on the seemingly endless sexual harassment scandals in its Cold Open. With Kenan Thompson as Santa and Kate McKinnon as an elf, a line of children asked things like, “Can you tell me, what did Al Franken do?“ Per the New York Times, Thompson replies that he’s got that particular boy’s toy requests, but says to McKinnon, “Can you take the Al Franken thing, sugarplum?“ McKinnon refuses, adding, “in this climate, can you just call me Amy?“







When the boy’s line of questioning turns to Roy Moore, McKinnon says he’s not so much on Santa’s naughty “list. It’s more of a registry,“ adds Deadline. Others taking a hit included President Trump (“Nineteen accusers. Google it,“ says McKinnon) and Matt Lauer (one boy asked if he wanted a toy responded, “Oh, you mean toy like the one Matt Lauer gave to his co-worker?“ The episode was guest-hosted by James Franco.

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globes

The Free Press WV

Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War-era fairytale “The Shape of Water” swam away with a leading seven nominations from the Golden Globes, while the HBO drama “Big Little Lies” led television nominees with six nods.

In what’s being viewed as a wide-open Oscar race so far, several films followed closely behind “The Shape of Water,” including Steven Spielberg’s Pentagon Papers drama “The Post,” with six nominations, including best actress for Meryl Streep and best actor for Tom Hanks. Martin McDonagh’s revenge drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” also got a major boost in the nominations announced Monday in Beverly Hills, California, with six nods, including best actress for Frances McDormand and supporting actor for Sam Rockwell.

But as the most prominent platform yet in Hollywood’s awards season to confront the post-Harvey Weinstein landscape, the Globes also enthusiastically supported Ridley Scott’s J. Paul Getty drama “All the Money in the World.” Christopher Plummer, who replaced Kevin Spacey in the film, was nominated for best supporting actor. Scott was also nominated for best director and Michelle Williams for best actress.

A rough cut of the film was screened for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes. Scott is quickly reediting the movie to eradicate Spacey, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by numerous men.

“It must have been a herculean effort, because Christopher Plummer is all the way through the movie,” said Meher Tatna, president of the press association. “He really pulled off the impossible.”

Notably left out were frequent Globes-nominees “House of Cards” and “Transparent,” two of the TV shows affected by the cascading fallout of sexual harassment allegations in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s ouster. As usual, the nominations were partly announced on NBC’s “Today” show, where Matt Lauer was recently fired following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Along with “The Shape of Water,” ″Three Billboards” and “The Post,” the nominees for best drama were the tender young romance “Call Me By Your Name” (which also landed nods for stars Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer) and Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic “Dunkirk.”

But setting itself apart from the pack was the monster fable “The Shape of Water,” which stars Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning woman who falls in love with a captive amphibious creature. No film was more widely celebrated, with nods including del Toro’s directing and Alexandre Desplat’s sumptuous score.

“I believe in magic and this is a magical thing,” said Hawkins.

The best picture comedy or musical category was led by a handful of Oscar favorites — Greta Gerwig’s mother-daughter tale “Lady Bird,” Jordan Peele’s horror sensation “Get Out” — as well as a handful of others: James Franco’s making-of “The Room” comedy “The Disaster Artist,” the upcoming musical “The Greatest Showman” and the Tonya Harding comic-drama “I, Tonya.”

Despite considerable backlash, “Get Out” ended up on the comedy side of the Globes after being submitted that way by Universal Pictures. Peele himself slyly commented on the controversy, calling his social critique of latent racism “a documentary.” The Globes passed over Peele’s script, but newcomer Daniel Kaluuya was nominated for best actor in a comedy.

Though some predicted and feared an acting field lacking diversity, the nominees were fairly inclusive. Denzel Washington (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.“), Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”), Hong Chau (“Downsizing”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”) were among the 30 film acting nominees.

But the best director category remained all-male, as it has for most of Globes and Academy Awards history. Many hoped for a different story in a year where a parade of sexual harassment scandals have laid bare Hollywood’s gender imbalances. But contenders like Gerwig, Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman”) and Dee Rees (“Mudbound”) were overlooked for a group of Spielberg, del Toro, Nolan, McDonagh and Scott.

The morning’s biggest surprise, aside from the success of “All the Money in the World,” might have been the complete omission of the romantic comedy “The Big Sick,” penned by real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. Another Oscar underdog, “The Florida Project,” emerged with only one nomination, for Willem Dafoe’s supporting performance as the manager of a low-rent motel.

In the television categories, the Emmy-winning “Big Little Lies” earned a host of acting nods (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgard, Laura Dern) as well as best limited series. (HBO recently announced a second season for “Big Little Lies,” which will change its category in other awards shows.)

FX’s Bette Davis and Joan Crawford chronicle “Feud: Bette and Joan” landed four nominations, including nods for Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon. Amazon’s just-debuted “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” scored two nods, including best comedy series. Also with multiple nominations were Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and NBC’s “This Is Us.” HBO’s “Game of Thrones” received a nod for best drama series, but nothing for its cast.

Gary Oldman, nominated for best actor for his Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” said the sexual misconduct scandals have cast an unusual pall over an awards season where Weinstein was for decades a dominant force.

“How should we celebrate? Well, I don’t think any of it’s funny, so I guess that people will stay away from it in the ceremony,” said Oldman by phone Monday. “It’s evolution, and it’s good that we sort of start to check ourselves about what we do and what we say and how we do it and how we say it to people, so I think it’s ultimately a good thing. But I can’t see too much of this coming up in (the show), up there on the platform, as it were, on the podium.”

The Globes haven’t traditionally predicted the Oscars, but they did last January. The Globes best-picture winners — “Moonlight” and “La La Land” — both ultimately ended up on the stage for the final award of the Oscars, with “Moonlight” emerging victorious only after the infamous envelope flub. The press association, which has worked in recent years to curtail its reputation for odd choices, is composed of approximately 90 freelance international journalists.

The last Globes broadcast, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, averaged 20 million viewers, an upswing of 8 percent, according to Nielsen. This year, Seth Meyers, will host the January 7 ceremony. He will have his hands full trying to keep a famously frothy show light amid such dark scandals for the movie industry.

Last year’s Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement honoree, Streep, spoke forcefully against then President-elect Donald Trump, shortly before his inauguration. Trump the next day criticized the actress as “overrated.” This year, Streep — along with Spielberg and Hanks — return with a pointed and timely drama about the power of the press to counter lies emanating from the White House.

Said Streep in a statement: “I’m thrilled for the movie, for Steven and Tom, and for the incredible ensemble of actors who made this movie need its moment in history.”

Samuel L Jackson Is Now a Teacher

The Free Press WV

Here’s the perfect gift for that struggling, maybe not-so-gifted actor on your shopping list: Acting class, taught by none other than Samuel L Jackson. As Time reports, the Hollywood icon is making a foray into teaching his craft, via online learning portal Masterclass, which makes it not only accessible, but relatively affordable at $90. Included are 21 videos, workbook with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplements; students can ask Jackson questions via video, though it’s up to him what he responds to. Jackson joins the likes of Steve Martin, Ron Howard, Usher, Steph Curry, Judy Blume, and Thomas Keller, all of whom teach their craft on the website.

Mary Blige, Mariah Carey, Nick Jonas get Golden Globe nods

The Free Press WV

Mary J. Blige is dancing into the Golden Globe Awards as a double nominee — for her acting and songwriting — while Mariah Carey and Nick Jonas are some of the other popular singers nominated for honors.

Blige earned nominations Monday for her work in the Dee Rees’ period film “Mudbound.” She’s up for best supporting actress in a motion picture and best original song for “Mighty River,” which she co-wrote.

“I feel so good. I’ve been thanking God all morning long. I’ve been up since my phone has been ringing,” the 46-year-old singer said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

“Mudbound,” released on Netflix last month, follows two neighboring families — one black, one white — on a hardscrabble farm in 1940s Mississippi. Blige plays the role of Florence Jackson, a mother and sharecropper’s wife.

They filmed last summer in New Orleans, around the time Blige announced she was divorcing from her husband and former manager. She said she took all of the emotion from her personal life and put it into the film.

“I would come over to (my acting coach’s) house and I would be going through it. And she would say, ‘Take all of that mess and give it to Florence. Give everything to Florence.’ And I just gave Florence everything that was good, bad, vulnerable, that was strong, that was sad, that was disappointing,” she said.

Blige detailed the very public breakup and infidelity claims on her album, “Strength of a Woman,” released in April.

“2016 was the year that I didn’t know what the heck was going on. As women we have intuition, we don’t know exactly what’s happening, we just feel everything. I know I feel everything. And I just gave ... everything I was feeling to Florence,” she added.

Blige, who grew up in New York, said trips to the South to visit her family also helped her connect to the character: “I would see my grandmother and my aunts and they were this woman Florence, so I saw this woman a lot. I think I probably have her in my DNA.”

She also said it was tough transforming from Mary J. Blige, the 9-time Grammy-winning R&B superstar, to Mary J. Blige, the actress.

“I wear a lot of wigs and weaves and things like that, but for this I had to wear my own textured hair, which I was never really wanting to do, especially without a perm,” Blige said. “And (Dee Rees) was like, ’No, I want nappy edges. I want Florence to look like she’s a sharecropper’s wife, and it was a little hard disconnecting from Mary J. Blige because she’s been around for a minute. So it was hard to get rid of her, but once I got rid of her Florence actually liberated Mary. So it was sad but beautiful at the same time.”

Blige’s two nominations are the only ones “Mudbound” earned Monday.

The singer shares her best original song nomination with Taura Stinson and Raphael Saadiq, the singer-songwriter-producer who has worked on hits for Solange, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and himself.

Blige’s competition includes Carey, who is nominated for the Christmas tune “The Star,” from the animated movie of the same name.

“Listen, I’ve been a fan of Mariah Carey since Mariah Carey came out. It’s a beautiful thing to see all of your peers at the same time being blessed and nominated and recognized for our work,” Blige said.

Jonas is also up for best original song for “Home” from the animated film “Ferdinand.” Jonas and Carey are first-time Globe nominees; Blige was up for an award at the 2012 show for “The Living Proof” from the film, “The Help.”

Other best original song nominees include Oscar-winning composers. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the husband-and-wife songwriting duo behind “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” are nominated for “Remember Me” from the film “Coco,” while Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — who earned an Oscar this year for “City of Stars” from “La La Land,” are up for “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.”

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