It had to be the Academy Awards that got burned in tonight’s SNL cold open, didn’t it? But did it have to be this gammy cold open?
“Last year’s Oscars had the slap, which was awesome, I mean bad, so bad,” said Heidi Gardner as “either Maria Menounos or Kit Hoover they haven’t told me which yet” in the NBC late-night show’s first few minutes. “So, this year to make sure nothing crazy happens, the Academy hired a new head of security: notoriously calm and sane person, Mike Tyson,” she says as Kenan Thompson strolled on screen as the former heavyweight champion.
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At that point, Saturday Night Live should have realized that it had a case of less is more. But the show wanted more.
“I should warn you, the following things will set me off,” Thompson’s Tyson told Gardner’s Access Hollywood host and her Mario Lopez sidekick (played by Marcello Hernandez). “Clapping, statutes of gold people, and shows that last more than three hours, and also hearing the phrase ‘the magic of movies,’ ” the fictional Tyson went on to say, with references to Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel being equipped with a “flamethrower” as a new security measure.
“Seriously, how great is this?” exclaimed cast member Chloe Fineman as Jamie Lee Curtis next up in the longer-than-usual skit. Was the fictional version of the Everything Everywhere All at Once star and Best Supporting Actress nominee being entirely rhetorical? Maddeningly, an on-screen sidebar mid-cold open of Draft Kings taking bets on “George Santos pretending to be Tom Cruise,” “Chris Rock” showing up and the billion-to-one of “Harvey Weinstein Introduces Kanye West” teased how good this Oscar-centric skit could have been.
Even the great Bowen Yang showing up the truth-challenged freshman congressman claiming to be the Top Gun: Maverick star “Thomas Q Cruise” was not the redeemer it needed to be. “Now if you’ll excuse me I have to be everyone everywhere all at once,” was an understatement.
Going into Sunday’s Oscars, plus further fallout from Dominion Voting System’s defamation suit against Fox News and the self-cannibalism that the race for the GOP 2024 presidential nomination is already gearing up to be, the topical SNL had no shortage of satire at its disposal for this week. A new document and deposition dump in the Dominion vs. FNC legal war the past few days could have easily and shamelessly provided Saturday Night Live with another cold open mocking Fox News, as it did the week before.
But after the slap heard around the world when Will Smith took a whack live onstage at Rock for mocking his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, this week’s cold open had to be a hot take on the 95th Academy Awards and the banality of pre-ceremony red carpet shows.
Still, pummeled later in the cold open with comparisons between the 95th Academy Awards and “how racist and sexist your Grampa was at 95,” we should have seen where this was going from the get-go – and it wasn’t good.
“I guess everyone in Hollywood has diabetes,” Gardner quipped right at the start of the cold open with a lame swipe at Tineseltown’s new weight-shedding love-affair with the drug Ozempic. “We are so excited to have been standing outside the Dolby Theatre for almost 153 hours,” added Hernandez’s Lopez. “But it’s all worth to ask Angela Bassett if she really did the thing.”
With Wednesday star Jenna Ortega as host and The 1975 as musical guest, tonight’s 15th episode of the 48th season finds SNL in the final stretch for this year. In what could be EP Lorne Michaels’ last stint at the helm, the NBC late-nighter is also facing a very unfunny labor disruption as the show’s post-production editors could strike April 1. As the rest of Hollywood gears up for the WGA sitting down with the studios on March 20 for likely contentious negotiations on a new three-year contract, the Editors Guild has another virtual chat set with NBCUniversal reps on March 13.
The 95th Academy Awards start at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on Sunday on ABC with Kimmel back as the host for a third time. And they have basically promised there will be no fisticuffs — at least not literally this year.
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