Taylor Swift made her debut on NBC's Saturday Night Live more than 10 years ago when the then-country singer was becoming music's rising star. Though known for her hit songs and heartfelt lyrics, Swift made her acting debut in the 2010 Valentine's Day and released her second album Fearless a year prior to hosting the variety sketch series for the first time. It was there the singer-songwriter showcased her acting and comedic timing.
When delivering her debut monologue on the SNL stage, Swift resorted to doing what she does best: writing and performing a song.
Performing "Monologue Song La La La," Swift poked fun at rumors, jokes and tabloid buzz surrounding her life at the time. From acknowledging that she likes "glitter and sparkly dresses" to being known for "writing songs about douchebags that cheat on me," Swift made the audience laugh with her quips about herself.
"I like writing their names in songs so they're ashamed to go in public," she sang of her reputation as a serial dater. During the song she also addressed her breakup with Joe Jonas, who she admitted during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that he broke up with her via phone: "You might think I'd bring up Joe, that guy that broke up with me on the phone, but I'm not going to mention that," she sang, before adding "Hey Joe, I'm doing well." She also teased her former romance with Twilight actor Taylor Lautner.
Swift's hosting debut also arrived amid her drama with Kanye West after he interrupted her speech to protest her VMA win. "You might be expecting me to say something bad about Kanye and how he ran up on the stage and ruined my VMA monologue," she sang then sighed. "But there's nothing more to say cause everything's OK, I got security lining the stage."
'Twilight' Parody "Firelight"
Twilight centered on the vampire clan known as the Cullens, butSwift and SNLmade their own version of the film known as "Firelight" revolving around the Franks, a family of Frankensteins. Taking on the role of Kirsten Stewart's Bella, Swift dons a brunette wig and expresses her fascination for the Frank known as Phillip played by Bill Hader.
"Your skin is green. You have bolts in your neck. You freak out around fire," she tells him, before admitting she knows what he is. Utilizing the same clips from the Twilight trailer, the two embark on a whirlwind romance before danger strikes as Swift's character is threatened by evil Franks. Protecting her and falling in love, Swift asks Hader's Phillip why he won't kiss her and headmits: "Because when I kiss people I tend to accidentally choke them to death."
"Scared Straight" Sketch
Swift got a taste of her bad side when she portrayed an ex-con named Skeet Devlin in a "Scared Straight" sketch alongside Kenan Thompson. Recruited to warn about the criminal lifestyle to delinquents, the pair, who dubbed themselves as "Swirl," comedically try to help teens who got caught joyriding. Donning cornrows, a red headband and fake facial hair, Swift's Skeet helps Thompson's Lorenzo get in the face of each of the troubled teens, yelling confusing words of wisdom. "Get up! How fast you goin' Kurt Russell?" Swift's Skeet yells at Andy Samberg's character. "You better keep your damn mouth shut," Thompson's Lorenzo tells Bill Hader as he and Swift proceed to also scream in his face. "You don't break the law. They will break you," Swift's Skeetlater advises.
For the "Roomies" sketch, Swift joined NasimPedrad and Andy Sambergas a loyal best friend, who interrupts a romantic evening alone for Pedrad and Samberg's characters. After coming home from working at Bath and Body Works, Swift and Pedrad embrace after being unable to see each other for two hours. "I miss you. I love you so much," Pedrad continuously tells Swift. "You're the only person I want to hang out with," Pedrad later tells Swift as Samberg's Bennet is left confused on their relationship. Swift and Pedrad make things worse for Samberg's Bennet as the two showcase their unique handshake, which the two women chanted along to in unison.
"The Californians" Sketch
For SNL's 40th anniversary special, Swift made a special appearance during "The Californians" sketch centered on a soap drama that tells the story of a family Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Laraine Newman, Kenan Thompson, Betty White and Swift who reunite and get some surprising news about their pool boy Craig Bradley Cooper.
Swift played Cousin Alison who just "got a small role in a Hollywood space movie." "Why don't you do a line from your movie?" Armisen tells Swift's Alison, who then instructs the family to imagine she is in space. "Captain, the zargons are in pursuit and there's aliens everywhere," Swift says in her dialogue. She then tells her family she wishes their family member Greta Lana would be able to see her on the big screen but "she's dead." White then appears to yell "No I'm not! I'm alive!" It is later revealed that Swift's Alison tried to "sabotage" White's hot air balloon ride and placed herself as the sole person on her will. "I'm just a messed up actress," Swift's Alison cried as she confessed.
Driving PSA Sketch
When hosting SNL, Swift portrayed a teen named Samantha Samuels for a mock teen driving PSA. Wearing braces and headgear. "You know teens have gotten a lot of flack recently for 'DWT' or 'driving while texting' and it's true... it can be very dangerous but teens aren't the only bad drivers," she says. "Many of the worst drivers are parents. That's why I founded 'Teens Raising Awareness About Awful Parent Drivers' or 'T.R.A.A.P.D." Throughout the mock commercial, Swift's Samantha proceeds to explain the issues her organization will discuss including the dangers of driving while lecturing, trying to balance hot coffee, racing to Nordstrom for a sweater sale, giving the "birds and the bees" talk, among others. After Kristen Wiig appears as Swift's mom to question why there's a hidden camera in their car, Swift's Samantha throws a temper tantrum. "Mom! You're ruining my commercial."
'reputation' era performances
A day before releasing her sixth studio album reputation, Swift served as a musical guest on SNL. After being introduced by host Tiffany Haddish, Swift made the live debut of her single "...Ready For It?" and "Call It What You Want." The performances marked her first appearance on SNL in eight years. During her first ever performance of "...Ready for It?" the singer danced alongside four backup dancers. For her second performance of the night, Swift picked up her acoustic guitar. Though absent from the night's sketches, her appearance proved to formulate a relationship with Haddish as Haddish recorded a short video intro for Swift's performance of "Look What You Made Me Do" during her reputation world stadium tour.
Taylor Swift has been the center of pop music since her breakout at the young age of 14, and now she is using her acquired knowledge to assist contestants who want to be a part of the industry on NBC’s The Voice: Swift is joining the cast as a “mega mentor” on the hit show’s 17th season.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the pop superstar will join coaches Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Blake Shelton, and Gwen Stefani as a mentor to aspiring musicians on Emmy-winning singing competition series. Swift will help contestants on each team prepare for the Knockout Rounds. During the Knockout Rounds, contestants join a teammate and perform a chosen song individually. Swift will appear to give hands-on assistance during practice.
The news was also confirmed by a teaser clip for the show.
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Our @NBCTheVoice Mega Mentor for Season 17 is VERY MEGA. If only @blakeshelton and I could figure out who it is.
A post shared by John Legend @johnlegend on Sep 16, 2019 at 8:00am PDT
The upcoming season won’t be Swift’s first time appearing on the show. Swift joined the cast in 2014 as well, to act as a coach for contestants. Swift was also invited to the stage during The Voice‘s latest season to perform a glittery rendition of her hit song, “ME!” with Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco.
The Voice’s season 17 will be the first season without original coach Adam Levine, who departed from the series earlier this year. The new season will premiere on October 23 on NBC.
It is never too early for another awards ceremony, especially just as Oscar season kicks in. Thus the Toronto Film Festival launched the very first TIFF Tribute Gala on Monday night. It makes sense for this massive fest, even if TIFF already has an award, the People’s Choice Award, that gets a lot of attention at the end of the 11-day event because it has become quite prescient in predicting eventual Oscar-winning Best Pictures and nominees over the years Green Book was the surprise audience winner last year. It often is pointed to by pundits as perhaps the first real sign of an Oscar contender, and prognosticators even write pieces trying to predict who will win it.
But as described by TIFF co-head Cameron Bailey, this new idea came about to essentially morph the festival’s traditional fundraising tribute dinner into one that specifically will “highlight the year’s best films, as well as longtime contributors to the industry.” The Gotham Awards, which along with the Hollywood Film Awards are usually the earliest of this type of banquet, was an inspiration, and TIFF beat that to the punch by nearly three months. Bailey told me afterwards it is essentially his job, along with new co-head Joana Vincente, to pick the honorees, and certainly it is well-timed for a starry evening since tributees like Meryl Streep and Joaquin Phoenix are already at the fest premiering their new movies, making appearances in connection with them and doing press, so getting two stars who normally don’t do this kind of thing to accept is easier than it might normally be.
From an Oscar strategist POV, this is a dream even if the studios and distributors do have to shell out money to buy tables, as is the case for most of these kinds of shows that are so prevalent during the season. After all, even for an often press-shy actor like Phoenix, it was a simple proposition. “My publicist said, ‘Hey somebody wants to give you an award,’ and I said I’m in!”
Streep rarely appears on the “circuit” at events where getting an arranged prize is usually part of a larger campaign, but she seemed to be delighted to accept this one.
Other honorees in the well-produced, breezy and fun evening included TIFF Ebert Director Award winner Taika Waititi, whose Jojo Rabbit premiered the night before. The TIFF Mary Pickford Award, supported by an enthusiastic contingent from MGM Pickford was a founder of UA, went to Atlantics director Mati Diop; the Impact award, won by Participant Media Green Book, Roma , was accepted by David Linde; and the Variety Artisan Award winner was cinematographer Roger Deakins, in town for the world premiere of The Goldfinch the award was presented to him by its director John Crowley.
There was also a “Special Tribute” honor for musician David Foster who repaid the fest for the award by devoting his time to providing the evening’s entertainment with a killer set of songs from his movies, including “The Glory Of Love” from The Karate Kid Part II. He lamented about the song from Top Gun , “Take My Breath Away” beating that for the Oscar even though he says it is so lazy they never even bothered to finish the lyrics. Foster is at TIFF for the premiere of a new documentary about him.
It is not inconceivable at all to imagine many of these names will turn up at the Oscars, some laden with trophies handed out across the long season but there is something about being first, and I can easily imagine that Bailey and Vincente will find themselves besieged by eager awards consultants angling for one of these honors in the coming seasons. At any rate the inaugural group was pretty damn impressive.
Phoenix charmed the ballroom with a heartfelt, at times funny , acceptance of the Actor Award that is the kind of thing that could take him far this season for his stunning performance in Joker. At this early point he has to be considered a front runner even if the big winner of the Venice Film Festival doesn’t even open until October. His tributes to his late brother River, his sisters, and the people who got him started in the business were touching. Joker had its North American premiere at TIFF Monday night followed by a party that just got rolling around Midnight. Phoenix hit them all.
Mati Diop, presenter Isabelle Huppert Shutterstock
Streep , with so many awards on her shelf you would need to start an excel sheet just to keep track, is a pro at making memorable speeches and she didn’t disappoint in accepting the other Actor Award. I had just come , as did she and co-stars Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas who presented, from the North American premiere of Steven Soderbergh’s funny and politically pointed The Laundromat, and she is great as always , hilarious then heartwrenching, in a role that could bring her a 22nd Oscar nomination, this one for Best Supporting Actress. Referring to Oldman and Banderas who act as kind of a greek chorus throughout the film , she said “Look at me, I am 70 and I’ve got these guys!” She then launched into singing the beginning of “O Canada” to the delight of the crowd. “I am so grateful to Canada for so many things, chiefly of course Joni Mitchell, and second Martin Short, and Glenn Gould and Neil Young and Alice Munro, and Justin Trudeau, and Margaret Atwood , and to the Toronto Film Festival of course,” she said in congratulating the fest for celebrating women in front of and behind the scenes, as well as talking about an artists responsibility to pick projects that can make a difference. “We didn’t create this moment we find ourselves in, we can’t cure it, we can’t control it, . but we sure can contribute to its toxicity. ” she said to big applause.
Linde, at TIFF with premieres of Warner Bros. powerful death row drama, Just Mercy, as well as the inspiring documentary Sing Me A Song, talked about his company’s mantra to have social impact, or as founder Jeff Skoll says , ‘ impact is a team sport’. Participant’s award was presented in Spanish by the Oscar nominated star of last year’s Roma , Yalitza Aparacio.
Roger Ebert’s widow, Chazz presented the Ebert Directors Award to Waititi , giving him not only the handsome , and VERY heavy new trophy, but also the annual Gold Thumbs Up award previously given out at TIFF in past years. Guillermo Del Toro introduced him.
All in all on another busy night in Toronto, this event held at the Fairmont Royal York looks to be a keeper if they can find these kinds of quality recipients to honor each year.
Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday. The answer to the second, “What is the best show currently on TV?” can be found at the end of this post.
This week’s question: What’s your favorite dance sequence on TV ever?
Alan Sepinwall @sepinwall, Rolling Stone
Look, there are surely more emotionally moving options than the one I’ve chosen. Mac’s interpretive dance about his sexuality from the last “It’s Always Sunny” finale was among the most remarkable and unexpected moments of recent TV. The year before, “Better Things” wonderfully concluded its season with Sam, her mom, and two of her daughters recreating the video from Christine and the Queens’ “Tilted” as a birthday present for Max. Anyone who votes for Sasha’s “Istanbul/Constantinople” dance from “Bunheads” here is absolutely right to do so — a great piece of choreography that was also revelatory about a character designed to be tough to love. There’s Pete and Trudy’s desperate Charleston on “Mad Men,” Carlton doing The Carlton, the “5 O’Clock World” cold open from “The Drew Carey Show” that quickly became that show’s new main title sequence, Nick Andopolis’ “Groove Line” disco meltdown in the “Freaks and Geeks” finale, and a lot more.
But come on: is there any way I’m not going to choose “Scrubs” surgeon Chris Turk dancing to Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison” here? In the 13-plus years since that episode aired, it is by far the TV scene I have watched the most, and shared the most, whenever I or a loved one was in need of something to smile about. Donald Faison’s limbs move so elastically, it can feel like a digital effect, and the interjections of Turk’s audience Janitor: “He’s so… damn… talented” only enhance his nimble genius. It is one minute of pure, televised joy so potent, Fortnite stole Faison’s moves.
Gwen Ihnat @gwenemarie, The A.V. Club
“It’s Oh So Quiet,” an old Betty Hutton song later popularized by Bjork, is perfect for a blockbuster dance number just check out the finale to woefully underlooked movie “Happy, Texas”. The dearly departed “Bunheads,” Amy Sherman-Palladino’s short-lived series about a California dance school run by the odd couple of dance vet Fanny Kelly Bishop and Vegas showgirl Michelle Sutton Foster, went to that same well, but used it to show just how difficult dancing really is. In Episode 11’s cold open, Michelle is rehearsing “Oh So Quiet” sung by Lucy Woodward with her teenaged class, and the several years older instructor finds it hard to keep up as the number shifts from graceful ballet to enthusiastic jazz. But Foster’s exhausted wisecracks are hilarious “Ugh, this is so hard. Why do you do this?”, and at the end we have new appreciation not just for the dance but for the clearly enamored teacher— as the camera pulls back and reveals that Fanny is watching a tape of the rehearsal. Kelly Bishop has a perfectly inscrutable look on her face, perhaps sad about the dance numbers she herself can’t pull off any more, and realizing that as much as she may be loathe to admit it, Michelle is a hell of a dance teacher. Damn, I still miss this show.
Kaitlin Thomas @thekaitling, TVGuide.com
I could name several different but impressive dance sequences from The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” — “Settle for Me,” “I’ve Got My Head in the Clouds,” and “Anti-Depressants Are So Not a Big Deal” all stand out as favorites, and all for different reasons — but if you think that I’m not going to spend this time highlighting literally everything about “Dance Academy,” you are wrong. However, I also refuse to choose a favorite dance sequence from this Australian import that is simultaneously both the greatest and the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life. From Tara’s performance where she slips on a bead !!!! and breaks her back to everything Abigail ever did, this show was packed with so much dancing and even more DRAMA. Also, I would just like to shout-out Zac Efron in “Bet On It” from “High School Musical 2.” It’s not the most inspired dancing but it is ART. Do not @ me.
Daniel Fienberg @TheFienPrint, The Hollywood Reporter
I’m not sure I have the exact answer here and I haven’t given a laundry list answer for a while. There are things that come immediately to mind. Nick doing disco on the all-time classic “Discos and Dragons” episode of “Freaks and Geeks.” Bert Cooper’s song-and-dance departure on “Mad Men.” Mac’s modern dance confession in the most recent season finale of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Sam’s graduation dance/gift in the second season finale of “Better Things.” Something from the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” musical episode, probably “Walk Through Fire”? Something from “Bunheads,” probably “Istanbul.” Then there are the Dennis Potter musicals that I feel like I have to mention because otherwise there’s zero chance anybody will, so I’m thinking “Dem Bones” from “The Singing Detective” and almost anything from “Pennies From Heaven.” Oh and because not all choreography and dancing has to be identical, I’d offer you the two-plus minutes of sweeping the floor that ended the seventh episode of Showtime’s “Twin Peaks.”
And so with all that out of the way, final answer is going to be Alex & tWitch doing a hip-hop routine to “Outta Your Mind” on “So You Think You Can Dance.” It’s the pairing of probably the show’s best and most versatile hip-hop dancer with possibly the show’s best overall dancer period that makes this number a model of hard-hitting precision and something more humorous and whimsical.
Alec Bojalad @alecbojalad, Den of Geek
Oh man. I've waited my whole TV Critics Survey life like three weeks for this question. There are so many awesome and awesomely gratuitous dance sequences in the TV world, particularly in the TV comedy world. There's Mac's touching dance from “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Season 13, the “BoJack Horseman” hallucination song and dance sequence from season 5, and “Scrubs's” Alan Sepinwall Special: The Turk Dance.
For my ultimate answer though, I'm going to go to a recent drama with “Legion” Season 2, Episode 1's dance battle. “Legion,” for all its fault and in “Legion” Season 2 those faults are...well, uh legion, knows how to creatively stage a battle sequence. David Haller, the mutant at “Legion's” core, has near God-like powers and as such his fighting skills must be hard to effectively depict on a cable TV budget. So “Legion” does the smart thing by not even attempting to. The heroes, villains, and antiheroes sing, dance, and even rap several times through “Legion's” three-season run. It's this dance sequence from the Season 2 premiere that is by far the coolest and best illustrates the show's style of mind-dancing combat.
Marisa Roffman @marisaroffman, Give Me My Remote
Yes, there have been great moments for dance in scripted shows, but in the unscripted realm, “So You Think You Can Dance” has had easily a dozen iconic numbers by itself.
One of the most moving? This incredible piece by Tyce Diorio, which Melissa and Ade performed:
Just try to watch it and not cry. GOOD LUCK.
April Neale @aprilmac, Monsters & Critics
Recent favorite: On a complex show I never comfortably settled into overall, “Legion” on FX in Season 1 featured an amazing dance number with Aubrey Plaza as Lenny Busker set to Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” The sultry choreography perfectly captured the chaotic landscape of David Dan Stevens mind. Busker was an iteration of The Devil parasite living inside mutant David's head, tormenting him. Lenny/Dr. Busker just levels everything as she dances and preens to this perfect song for the scene. This ex “Parks and Recreation” star just took her acting game to a whole new level in this series, and I bring it up because not long after this aired and season one wrapped, she was booked on the first season on Viceland of “Desus & Mero” and those guys totally woofed it with zero questions about “Legion” or this stunning role she had just turned in.
Days of yore favorite: “Batman” circa 1966 The Batusi, hell yes! The Riddler and King Tut’s moll roofied Adam West’s Batman who “recited the multiplication tables backwards” to snap out of his drugged haze and continue his batty dance moves.
Clint Worthington @clintworthing, Consequence of Sound, The Spool
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has never been afraid to push boundaries — of genre, of good taste — but it’s always found ways to reinvent itself and burst forth with new ideas that keep it going strong even 14 years in. Never was that clearer than in the finale of Season 13, “Mac Finds His Pride,” in which Rob McElhenney’s Mac finally comes out of the closet after more than a decade of no-homo jokes to the most serious, stylized, and downright earnest sequence of the show’s history. A rain-soaked interpretive dance number Mac performs for his father in prison, it bucks classic “Always Sunny” tradition by being actually good — a yearning, emotionally-charged expression of self featuring an absolutely jacked McElhenney the latest of Mac’s dramatic body transformations undulating and swaying to Sigur Rós with professional ballerina Kylie Shea. Unlike the natural light and handheld camerawork of the show’s normal lo-fi presentation, this is dramatic, still, shot with dramatic floodlights against an inky blackness — you’d almost think you were watching “Legion” instead.
In a sitcom that features characters who huff paint and come up with schemes like “Kitten Mittens,” Mac’s dance shocks not only with its quality it’s an incredible work of interpretive dance regardless of context but its novelty. Mac’s dad leaves halfway through the dance, which brings Mac to tears; and yet, he keeps going, turning the seasons-long gag into the show’s one, rare moment of sincere, transformative beauty. “I get it,” Danny Devito’s Frank Reynolds whispers at the end; it’s hard not to feel just as shocked as he does at one of TV’s crassest comedies stepping up to the prestige plate.
Jacob Oller @JacobOller, Paste Magazine
I don’t know anything about dance so at a certain level of expertise, it all begins to look like magic. That’s why my pick values narrative oomph over Olympic-level athleticism, even if it’s perhaps the steamiest Frasier ever got. Yes, I’m picking a dance from “Frasier,” specifically the first time that Niles and his long-pined-for love Daphne cut a rug during the third season’s “Moon Dance.” If you don’t get giddy about a romantic tango between two dorks that wouldn’t see their relationship blossom for another five seasons, you simply can’t be helped. The episode was appreciated in its time, winning an Emmy for writing at an awards show that reenacted the event, but it was first-time “Frasier” director Kelsey Grammer who really helped David Hyde Pierce and Jane Leeves tap into the dance sequence’s sweet and sexy surprise. All it can take is one dance to put everything in a different light, even in a show as silly as “Frasier.”
Damian Holbrook @damianholbrook, TV Guide Magazine
This is such a tough one because I totally loved the TV show version of “Fame” even when it was in syndication and all of the students were 33-years-old. But I also loved “Smash.” Both were more vocally oriented, only occasionally serving up full-blown dance numbers. So as much as I will always remember “Fame’s” “42nd Street” from way into its run, I am going with two “Smash” sequences because one was just amazing and the other was just insane. The first is Season 1’s “National Pastime,” featuring Megan Hilty’s Ivy as Marilyn Monroe and a bunch of jacked chorus boys in a blazing salute to baseball that was rollicking and fittingly athletic…especially for someone who doesn’t understand sportsball and usually thinks musicals are meh. It was the kind of number that I imagine my father would have adored if he wasn’t watching reruns of “M*A*S*H.” The second, as you may imagine from my earlier description, came later that season with the bonkers “Thousand and One Nights.” A Bollywood fantasy number alone is out there although “Legends of Tomorrow” had some damn fun with the concept with Tala Ashe, who, fun fact, guested on this episode of “Smash”!, but when you add in Raza Jefferey and a slinky Katharine McPhee singing, Anjelica Huston’s Elieen and Debra Messing’s Julia barely hitting their marks and some seriously messy cultural appropriation, you get something that is embarrassingly, cheesily re-watchable.
Diane Gordon @thesurfreport, Freelance
Allow me to be a broken record yet again and choose “Mad Men” for the many ways they found to incorporate music into the show and the careful selection of the songs that closed most of the episodes. Scenes featuring dance that stand out in my memory of course include Megan’s birthday dance for Don to “Zou Bisou Bisou,” but allow me to point out some others. Pete & Trudy taking over the dance floor at Roger Sterling’s summer party in the “My Old Kentucky Home” episode, which also featured Roger in blackface singing that song. Another favorite: Peggy twisting to Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” at a post-work bar gathering and after asking Pete Campbell to dance with her, he gives her a glowering look of disdain and mutters, “I don’t like you like this.”
On the more emotional side, Don and Peggy working on an idea and as they chat, “My Way” plays on the radio and after Don tells Peggy he worries a lot but not about her, they dance to the song and I dare you to watch this scene without tearing up. Also beautiful, the scene after Sterling-Cooper staff is told company co-founder Bert Cooper passed away just after the U.S. astronauts landed on the moon, Don walks back to his office and imagines Bert and a group of lovely ladies dancing to “The Best Things In Life Are Free.” I also adore Joan Holloway leading a conga line at the Sterling-Cooper Christmas party. And finally, though it’s not a dance scene, “The Phantom” episode of the show has one of my very favorite final sequences as Don walks from Megan’s commercial set to a bar and answers a personal question, set to “You Only Live Twice.”
Emily VanDerWerff @tvoti, Vox
For the end of its second season, the Emmy-winning cult hit sitcom “Taxi” pulled out all the stops. The show was sinking in the ratings but had been renewed for a third season, and the second season would win the Emmy for comedy series. But in that two-part season finale, the scruffy little show, set amid the working-class cabbies of a low-rent garage, would delve into the cabbies’ fantasies after one of them met Herve Villechaize from Fantasy Island. Wouldn’t you know it — the two shows both aired on ABC! The episodes concluded with Elaine Marilu Henner sharing her fantasy — a singing and dancing performance to “Lullaby of Broadway.” The series’ cast was full of stage actor ringers, like Judd Hirsch, Christopher Lloyd, and Danny DeVito and okay Tony Danza, who couldn’t sing to save his life. The number is maybe not the best in the history of TV, but it’s always one I’ve enjoyed returning to over the years.
Ben Travers @BenTTravers, IndieWire
…it’s like none of you even watched “Friends.”
Q: What is the best show currently on TV?*
A: “Succession” four votes
Other contenders: “Bachelor in Paradise,” “Baskets,” “GLOW,” “Good Eats,” “Lodge 49,” “Pose,” “The Righteous Gemstones,” and “The Terror: Infamy” one vote each, one abstention
*In the case of streaming services that release full seasons at once, only include shows that have premiered in the last month.
Taylor Swift, not known for political jeremiads, took a small swipe at President Donald Trump at Monday's VMAs.
Unlike Robert De Niro at the 2018 Tony Awards or Busta Rhymes at the 2017 Grammys, though, Swift didn’t mention Trump by name or give him a pejorative nickname. Instead, she referenced the administration’s stance on the Equality Act during her acceptance of Video of the Year honors for “You Need to Calm Down.”
A petition supporting the legislation, which is in sync with the LGBTQ-supporting message of “Calm Down,” has now elicited 500,000 signatures, Swift said. That’s “five times the amount that it would need to warrant a response from the White House.” She then mimed checking her watch as a way of underscoring the delay.
Shots fired? Not quite, but Swift’s comments weren’t the only sprinkling of spice among the cotton candy. Queer Eye co-host Jonathan Van Ness declared, “It's 2019, and not caring is not cute!” Host Sebastian Maniscalco, conversely, did everything but use the word “snowflake” in a riff complaining about the instinct to provide “safe spaces” to anyone offended by comedians, musicians or others. If it were his call, Maniscalco jabbed, “I would just put you in your car and send you home.”
For the audience at Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Center, these few pointed moments caused only the barest of ripples. Instead, a spirit of celebration and entertainment prevailed. Not for nothing did MTV designate the dress code as “cocktail chic.” Sitting in the arena, it was impossible not to notice how starkly the atmosphere of the VMAs contrasts with that of most other awards shows with comparable TV tune-in. While it has been said before, Monday's edition offered the latest reminder that the Emmys, Oscars and everyone else in the kudos game could learn a few lessons from MTV. With the accelerated Oscar season effectively kicking off this weekend in Venice and the Emmys barely three weeks away, now is the time to pay at least a little heed.
Normani performs at Monday’s MTV Video Music Awards. Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock
First among the takeaways: Performances dominate. They were the main takeaways from the night, not what anyone said or who they kissed or at whom they threw shade little of which, in fact, was thrown on Monday. Swift delivered a one-two punch at the top of the show with two songs from her new album, Lover. Other memorable stage moments came from Missy Elliott, Lizzo, Normani and Miley Cyrus, the last of whom completely banished the ghosts of twerking past.
Presenters of the actual handful trophies handed out among the 22 official categories stepped through a narrow chute in a corner of the arena. The setup looked like a version of the elevator-like contraption that disgorges guests on Jimmy Kimmel Live. After a two-second graphic appeared on the stadium screens running down the nominees and the winner, the screens went dark as the winners spoke. It was often easy to forget who was accepting what during the 45-second span of their speech. And then it was on to the next performance. Fashion Trailblazer Award honoree Marc Jacobs illustrated the compressed tempo when he fumbled for his notes in his jacket pocket maybe it wasn’t designed by such a trailblazer? and then joked, “I had 30 seconds and I just used 10 of them.” At other shows, rushing a lifetime achievement winner would elicit howls from the Twitterati. At the VMAs, while no one was out to disrespect Jacobs, even he understood that his words ranked at the bottom of what people came to experience.
The small stage where hardware was exchanged with recipients' backs turned to the majority of the audience, in order to gain the most favorable camera angle was dwarfed by the performance stages. Along with a small, round area at the opposite end of the arena, the triangular main stage offered versatility and depth that the broadcast could never quite capture. Lizzo's bracing set — punctuated by her urging the crowd to “love yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back!” — was accompanied by a giant, inflated bottom bedecked in a thong. J Balvin and Bad Bunny also got inflated, donning cartoonish suits during their performance of “Que Pretendes” that made them tall and puffy as bulbous, blow-up animals bounced among giant cacti. While it’s hard to imagine Emma Stone or Timothée Chalamet slipping into the kind of augmentation suits worn by Balvin, Bunny and Elliott, it’s also hard to turn the channel once you see it.
J Balvin and Bad Bunny perform at Monday’s VMAs. Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock
Of any of the “established” award shows though let’s remember that the Video Music Awards date to 1984, perhaps only the Grammys come the closest to the kind of performance-centric sugar-rush of the VMAs. Even so, “music's biggest night” is also often its most weighed down by industry grievances or the undending struggle to reconcile genres and agendas. And obviously there is a lot of important terrain covered by the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes that cannot be supplanted by extra perfornances. “In memoriam” segments, for example, are a tricky tightrope for producers but can have a hard-to-match resonance.
Perhaps no other figure on the VMA stage personified the mood of the night more than Missy Elliott. In accepting the night's career achievement trophy, she matter-of-factly noted being excited to receive the “Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.” Jackson's name remaining attached despite newly amplified charges of child abuse against the late pop star had recently prompted protests. When Elliott name-checked Michael's sister, Janet Jackson, but also MTV video pioneers like Peter Gabriel while dedicating her award to “the dance community,” it all felt spot-on. Inclusion riders and anti-Trump diatribes certainly have their place on the awards circuit and are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. But it also can be a blast to remember the crowd-pleasing prowess that brought everyone to the show in the first place.
The world has been without Saturday Night Live since the Season 44 finale aired back in May, but the good news is that the sketch comedy favorite is on its way back soon. The SNL Twitter account has shared some big news: The show is coming back on September 28, with Woody Harrelson as host and Billie Eilish as musical guest.
The show revealed a few upcoming guests, actually. The October 5 episode will be hosted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, with musical guest Taylor Swift. On October 12, David Harbour will host, while Camila Cabello will provide the music. The show didn’t reveal anymore upcoming musical guests, but did disclose that Kristen Stewart will host on November 2, while Eddie Murphy will host on December 21.
Live from your timeline, we’ve got some news. #SNL pic.twitter.com/7HrcoM8OPg
— Saturday Night Live – SNL @nbcsnl August 26, 2019
Neither Eilish nor Cabello have performed on the show before, but Swift has plenty of experience on the program. She first appeared as a musical guest in January 2009, and most recently did so in 2017. Between those two appearance, Swift took over an entire episode in November 2009, when she served as both host and musical guest.
Aside from this news, it’s certainly a big time in Eilish’s life: “Bad Guy” recently became her first No. 1 song, although it just lost that crown to Shawn Mendes and Cabello’s “Señorita.” Meanwhile, Taylor Swift is making history of her own, as Lover became the year’s best-selling album after just two days.