‘SNL’ Ladies All Look the SameRachel Dratch explains how Amy Poehler gets fan kudos for “Debbie Downer” just as much as Dratch gets praised for her turn as a cheerleader with Will Ferrell.
Chloë Sevigny Down! We Repeat, Chloë Sevigny Down!The indie actress is felled by a viral infection, Salman Rushdie would vote for Barack Obama, and writer Peter Davis cares too much about a socialite contest. All that and the rest of the gossip from New York’s tabloids today.
Fans to Joe Torre: Did You Get a Haircut?’Joe Torre’s new look, Ashlee Simpson’s continued Saturday Night Live ban, and Rudy Giuliani’s black eye — read all about it in our daily roundup of the juice in New York’s gossip columns.
Fred Armisen Performs in ‘Honeyface’Lorne Michaels took some heat for picking Venezuelan-Japanese cast member Fred Armisen to play Barack Obama when Saturday Night Live returned to the air at the end of February, but Armisen himself isn’t having any trouble with it. “I just want to have fun,” he said at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on March 10. “I like wearing outfits and doing things.” So how does he turn himself into the country’s potentially first black president? “It’s really quick,” Armisen said. “There’s shading on my eyebrows and plastic behind my ears. And there’s a little bit of something called Honey, a honey color, that is something I would wear when I play Prince.” About the perception that “Weekend Update” favors Hillary Clinton, Armisen’s response was similar to what SNL writer Jim Downey told today’s Times: “I think they’re not favoring anyone,” he said. “The pieces are more making fun of the media than anything else. It’s all about the jokes.” —Bennett Marcus
Related: SNL Searches for A Fauxbama
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‘SNL’ Fauxbama Fauxmenting Backlash
Wow, who remembers the last time Saturday Night Live was so politically relevant? On Tuesday Hillary Clinton drew attention to SNL’s debate skit from last weekend, which highlighted the media’s pro-Obama bias, and now the show’s choice of Fred Armisen as their Fauxbama is creating a debate over race in television. Critics contend that it’s inappropriate and shameful that SNL couldn’t find a black comedian to play Obama (Armisen is of Venezuelan, Japanese, and German descent). Hannah Pool at the Guardian compared Armisen’s light makeup to blackface, and Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune wrote that SNL’s failure to choose a black person for the role shows it has failed to keep pace with the rest of the nation’s progress on race relations.
Eric Nederlander Just Can’t WinBroadway scion Eric Nederlander is divorcing his second wife just seven weeks after having a daughter with her. Theodora Richards is now vice-president of creative direction at some jeans company. Maxim gave Nas’s new album two and a half stars despite the fact that it’s not even done yet. (They did the same thing to the new Black Crowes record.) Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez flipped out at a midtown bar after a female fan chatted up her boyfriend. Lorne Michaels is in talks with a major Vegas casino to create a live SNL revue starring former popular cast members.
The Writers’ Strike Has Amy Poehler Expressing Her Creativity in New WaysThe writers’ strike may end soon, and the SNL gang may have their day jobs back, but in the meantime, Amy Poehler’s getting her groove back. “I went to a hip-hop class at Crunch today,” she told us Friday night at actor Justin Theroux’s week-long public installation in Soho with a baseball-capped Will Arnett, her actor hubby. “Let me tell you something, those natural endorphins I’ve heard about — they really work.” Didn’t she ever do aerobic activity? “No,” she said. “Unless crying is considered an aerobic activity. I gotta get back to work.” So what else was she doing with her spare time? “I’ve doubled my therapy,” she said. But didn’t less work stress require less therapy? “No,” she replied. “I’m a thousand times more stressed when I’m not working. When you can’t blame everything on being too busy, a lot of shit comes up.” Totally. Last time our computers crapped out on us, we had to face that we had grown up to become bloggers whose high point of the week was Gossip Girl, and, well, it wasn’t pretty. Well, we told Poehler, at least you’re out doing new things, right? “Yeah,” she agreed. “And I’m learning how to become a midwife!” Wow! Really? “No.” —Tim Murphy
Click here to read all our writers strike coverage from New York’s Vulture blog.
Wall Street’s Golden Idols All Have Feet of ClayFINANCE
• The struggle to find a successor at Merrill and Citi demonstrates another big flaw in the current culture of Wall Street: Do-or-die standards, and growing demands on public executives, have left firms with no succession plan and few capable of stepping in to take over. Both firms have been forced to turn outside for help: Laurence Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, has been approached about O’Neal’s old job, while Robert Willumstad and John Thain are in the lead to take Prince’s place. [WSJ]
• Why did Chuck Prince and Stan O’Neal fail? They took Gordon Gecko’s favorite maxim—”I create nothing, I own”—a little too seriously, and forgot the other part of banking is to sell, sell, sell. [NYT]
• Andrew Ross Sorkin dons his Miss Manners cap to explain the rules of corporate courting—and why Stan O’Neal’s worrywart parents, the Merrill Lynch board, were only looking for an excuse when they grounded him for asking Wachovia to “merge.” [NYT]
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Tracy Morgan All Wrong on Jimmy Fallon
Tracy Morgan was always pissed that his Saturday Night Live co-star Jimmy Fallon usually cracked up during sketches. He was always “laughing and all that dumb [bleep] he used to do,” Morgan complains to Penthouse, according to “Page Six.” “He wouldn’t mess with me because I didn’t [bleep]ing play that s–t. That’s taking all the attention off of everybody else and putting it on you, like, ‘Oh, look at me, I’m the cute one.’ I told him not to do that s–t in my sketches, so he never did.” Which is kind of the opposite of how we feel. We loved the fact that Jimmy could not keep a straight face in any sketch co-starring Horatio Sanz, and that sometimes he made his fellow cast members crack up too. In fact, one of our favorite sketches of all time owes most of its humor to Jimmy’s uncontrollable giggling. If Fallon ever does end up replacing Conan, we hope it becomes a schtick. ‘Cause that’s kind of all he’s got.
‘Saturday Night’ Friction [NYP]
A Royal PainPrince’s highly publicized performance at the Ross School in East Hampton didn’t exactly get the crowd going. And he wouldn’t attend the after-party until everyone else left. Padma Lakshmi has been spending a lot of time with billionaire Teddy Fortsmann. Hillary Clinton has a subscription to the Post but not the Daily News. Jon Lovitz put a beating on Andy Dick at an L.A. comedy club during an argument over murdered SNL star Phil Hartman. Paris Hilton drugged her newest boyfriend with pills. Naomi Campbell gets to throw a temper tantrum in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial directed by Zach Braff. Some staffers don’t like the cubicles and the food-paying system in the new New York Times building.
Gore ’08!Michael Moore may support Al Gore for president. A theater in the HBO building was named for former network chief Michael Fuchs, and Fuchs gave a weird, bad, awkward speech at the ceremony. Jerry Seinfeld is very excited about his upcoming Bee Movie. 50 Cent is very excited about playing a drug dealer opposite Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in his upcoming movie. A lot of racehorse owners are not pleased with Eliot Spitzer’s plan for Aqueduct to be government-run. David Burke took home $10,000 after beating Bobby Flay and Sam Talbot in a poker tournament in Aspen. Jimmy Fallon wants to lose weight. “Utter pandemonium” broke out, says a “Page Six” source, after Debra Messing, Mike Nichols, and other guests were rained upon during the Public Theater’s premiere of Romeo and Juliet in Central Park. (Actually, we thought it was pretty fun.) Ian Claus dedicated his first book to Chelsea Clinton.
in the magazine
Live from ‘New York’If you were watching NBC over the weekend — and, actually, Nielsen numbers from the last few months suggest you probably weren’t — you saw the Lorne Michaels version of what Saturday Night Live was like in the nineties, a Sunday-night prime-time clip show of the comedy franchise’s Clinton-era highlights. (“Must have been a short show,” quipped a New Yorker.) Want the non-hagiographic take on SNL in that era? We bring you back to the March 13, 1995, issue of New York and Chris Smith’s cover story, “The Inside Story of the Decline and Fall of Saturday Night Live.” Smith spent a month in and around Studio 8H, and he discovered a show with falling ratings, increasing expenses, mediocre writing, a miserable cast, and a detached executive producer in Michaels. “What’s really killing SNL,” he wrote,” is a deep spiritual funk.” From the archives, here’s his account of that funk.
Comedy Isn’t Funny [NYM, 3/13/1995]
Maya Rudolph Did Not Like ‘300’300, the bloody action movie based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel about the ancient battle of Thermopylae, has conquered the all-time March box-office record, and also the hearts of the SNL cast — with the exception of Maya Rudolph. Asked what was the most “rockin’” thing they’d done to prep for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony they attended this week, Fred Armisen replied, “We went to the movies!” Andy Samberg clarified, “We saw 300.” Did they get more excited about this movie than the Chronicles of Narnia? Their tale of moviegoing is after the jump.
Miss Anna May, In Fact, Like Fat PeopleA movement is afoot to regulate the body weight of runway models in New York City, and Anna Wintour is leading it. Blood Diamond director Ed Zwick took Russell Simmons to task after Simmons went on diamond-industry press junket to South Africa and Botswana and claimed the diamond trade there to be mostly beneficial. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin put their Tribeca pad on the market, but only for one day. The Hilton sisters don’t get much love from their potential in-laws. (One suspects the feeling is mutual.) ABC anchor Charles Gibson thinks Mayor Bloomberg will run for president. Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld admitted in court that he did not know the difference between a markup and a gross profit margin. The Little Dog Laughed star Julie White got a ticket for bringing her dog on the subway. Brazil’s first lady wants to adopt a child. Demi Moore dragged Ashton Kutcher to Fashion Week in September, but all Ashton wanted to do was watch football. The duo behind holiday show What I Like About Jew have gone their separate ways. Dakota Fanning thinks her next film is wonderful, despite the fact she’s raped in it. Matthew Fox and the cast of SNL hung out late night. Victoria Beckham styled Katie Holmes for a magazine cover shoot, and the 300-plus people involved were (allegedly) instructed not to make eye contact with the ladies. For reasons entirely unclear, Brett Ratner’s grandmother has her own realty show on VH1. Cindy Adams hates on Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (although she hasn’t seen it), and Liz Smith loves James Lipton.