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‘SNL’ Recap: Billie Eilish Hosted And Sang (With Finneas, Too), But How Much Did We Miss Kate McKinnon?




‘SNL’ Recap: Billie Eilish Hosted And Sang (With Finneas, Too), But How Much Did We Miss Kate McKinnon?

This week’s promos played up Billie Eilish pulling double duty on Saturday Night Live, not only making her hosing debut but also performing as the musical guest. But also. Hey, look! It’s Kate McKinnon! Remember her? Before she appeared on your screens several times a day as the spokesperson for Verizon, McKinnon used to be the star of SNL. I know. Can you believe it? McKinnon had played hooky so far this season, ostensibly to film her own Tiger King thing as Carole Baskin, but all we’ve seen of her since last season’s May finale: Verizon ads. Lots and lots of Verizon ads.

So this is gonna be great, right? Kate’s back. Billie’s back. It’s a December to Remember, right, gang? Well, if only the rest of the show could finally come out of its Thanksgiving food comas, we might’ve had something special. But hey, the musical performances were great, and it’s nice to see McKinnon hamming it up in character again. So we’ve got that going for us in this recap, at least.

What’s The Deal For The SNL Cold Open For Last Night (12/11/21)?

“I’m back!” McKinnon opened the show as Dr. Anthony Fauci, overseeing a press conference about the Omicron variant of COVID-19, complete with skits by cast members in pairs to act-out how to deal with the new new new rules of engagement. They’re completely forgettable PSAs. But then again, has our government even attempted serious or fun PSAs about how to behave in a pandemic? Other than pretty pleases to get the vaccine, not really?!? So this is better than nothing? Even if a callback to Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s supposedly swollen balls already feels horribly dated as a joke. Even if New Yorkers are sick of the Cuomos, so can you imagine how sick the rest of America is (no offense to Pete Davidson and Andrew Dismukes, enlisted to portray Andrew and Chris Cuomo, respectively). Speaking of politicians nobody likes, Ted Cruz slides into frame once more. Of course, it’s Aidy Bryant in a beard, so we’ll allow it, especially standing alongside McKinnon once more. You can feel the joyousness in Studio 8H rising the moment they share the screen. Bryant speaks for all of us, but especially herself when she says of her Ted Cruz: “If you’re sick of seeing me…Imagine how sick I am of being me!”

How Did The SNL Guest Host Billie Eilish Do?

Did Eilish not want to do this a week later to commemorate her 20th birthday? That’s the only real question I kept lingering on before, during and after her hosting and musical duties.

After all, the family had assembled at 30 Rock. Her monologue got her mom onstage (in a Finneas sweatshirt to play up Eilish’s sibling rivalry with her big brother, who produced and performed all the instruments on her album), but later mom and dad introduced her first musical performance, and of course, Finneas himself was onstage for that, as well as a cameo in the final sketch of the night.

She participated in the first sketch of the night, a high-concept, low-laugh premise in which the Christmas cards on a couple’s fridge came to life in a bit of mocking self-awareness. Miley Cyrus made a “surprise” cameo, but really, since she’s promoting her New Year’s Eve telecast with Pete Davidson, and they just made a big deal about it on Fallon, is it really a surprise cameo? Also, the studio audience applauded in the middle of this sketch, which seemed a little too overenthusiastic. Thankfully, this didn’t become a habit throughout the night.

Eilish danced savagely as a nurse in a short video that I guess was lampooning TikTok but really just felt like an ad for TikTok.

She also pimp-walked and booty-popped in a a sketch imagining white Christian women attempting to make the Nativity pageant more hip-hop, but the less we think about or share it, the better we all are for moving on.

The more impressive work came later, such as this “Lonely Christmas” short in which Eilish invites her elderly neighbor (McKinnon) over to her family’s dinner, only to discover via a series of handwritten messages that her neighbor has more problems than just being problematic.

We also got treated to a torch-singing Santa number with McKinnon and Ego Nwodim as Eilish’s backup singers, and Kenan Thompson as Santa.

And her actually funniest work of the night came at the end in another sketch with McKinnon.

How Relevant Was The Musical Guest Billie Eilish?

Well, she already has seven Grammy Awards from the past two ceremonies, and just received seven more nominations this winter, so yeah, pretty relevant for a 19-year-old!

Her parents introduced her performance with Finneas of the title track to her new album, “Happier Than Ever” (up for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Music Video)

McKinnon introduced Eilish’s second musical performance, “Male Fantasy.”

Which Sketch Will We Be Sharing: “Kyle’s Holiday”

I know I told you the best sketch came at the end of the night, but let’s show some love to Kyle Mooney, because sharing is caring.

The emergence of newcomers “Please Don’t Destroy” may have made you wonder why Mooney didn’t leave over the summer as his own comedy partner Beck Bennett had. Especially since Mooney has a side project, Saturday Morning All-Star Hits!, that just premiered this past week on Netflix. But Kyle’s still roaming the halls of 30 Rock’s eighth floor, trying to make friends with anyone and everyone. Well, not everyone.

Who Stopped By Weekend Update?

You know it’s a weird week on the show when the two Update characters aren’t characters at all.

Punkie Johnson showed up first with a look into her New Orleans family’s rules for holiday dinners, which includes only allowing the eldest to make the potato salad. That explains Michael Che’s uncle, then? Punkie’s uncle still cannot get over her being a lesbian, but she’ll show him and everyone else, should she ever become a parent.

Andrew Dismukes emerged behind the desk in tiger face paint makeup for a segment Colin Jost described as “Andy’s Amazing Animals.” What’s most amazing is this was the second consecutive episode in which they attempted to put a dog’s head on top of human arms for the joke, but didn’t call him Dog Head Man. Taco the Talking Dog was concerned about Andrew, and for good reason, following Bongo the octopus’s dire prediction. By the way, nice subtle plug for NBC Sunday Night Football? Alec Baldwin may no longer haunt these halls, but his 30 Rock character’s corporate synergy has completed its mission.

What Sketch Filled The “10-to-1” Slot?

At 12:54 a.m. Eastern, we’ve fully welcomed Kate back into the fold, for here she was, terrorizing another guest host in this ad for the “Business Garden” hotel. Kate and Billie played front desk employees touting all of the hotel’s amenities, spoken as if they were hawking Swarovski crystals and more a la Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer in their “porn star” bits. With special appearances by Aidy as the helpless concierge, and Finneas as the bellhop/valet/night manager/in-house doctor.

But it’s Kate, so it’s got the same playfully perverted vibe that she used to bring to her “Whiskers R We” sketches, which also usually closed out episodes. Tilting her body toward Billie, pointing her finger to touch Billie’s shoulder, just trying to creep out Billie until she cracks. It almost sorta worked!

Who Was The Episode’s MVP?

Of course, in her first show back, Kate McKinnon got all of the sketches she wanted and then some. Don’t think we didn’t notice the additional focus on Andrew Dismukes, though, whether they asked him to twerk in a diaper, play Chris Cuomo, or receive deathly premonitions whilst wearing face paint.

Next week…Paul Rudd returns to host, with musical guest Charli XCX!

Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; before that, for actual newspapers. Based in NYC but will travel anywhere for the scoop: Ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.

Watch Season 47, Episode 8 of Saturday Night Live on Peacock


Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death




Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence




Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers




Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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