WBEZ | SNL http://www.wbez.org/tags/snl Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Mary Ellen Matthews Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/mary-ellen-matthews-interview-106620 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NUP_154157_0001.jpg" style="float: right; height: 233px; width: 350px;" title="SNL cast. (NBC/Mary Ellen Matthews)" />You know those cool photos that sandwich the commercials on <em>Saturday Night Live</em>? Today I&#39;m speaking with the woman behind them. A native of New Jersey, she began her career in film production and music publicity. She joined the staff of SNL in 1993 as an assistant to photographer Edie Baskin. In 1999 she took over from Baskin, becoming responsible the celebrity portraits used as commercial bumpers on the show.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Tell me about shooting the opening credits of the show. I was always curious to know how sincere and spontaneous those shots of the cast members were.</strong><br />I came up with this concept of asking them individually what part of New York means something to you, where do you hang out? What is your New York? And that&rsquo;s kind of how we went about it. So that was kinda fun&mdash;like Jason Sudeikis was playing basketball and things like that. So... I kind of approached it in a more personal level for them.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Was that very time intensive? To go all around the city for each of the cast members?</strong><br />It was, but you know we have a producer, and we had to keep it at a certain amount of time. The thinking about it and the pre-production&mdash;the location scouting and getting it right, was the big time-consuming thing bit of it. But obviously the shooting had to happen really quickly,which is very exciting.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>I read that you shoot the bumpers during the rehearsals, is that true?</strong><br />The show has been run on a traditional schedule for 38 years now. It&rsquo;s always kind of been the same, it doesn&rsquo;t really stray too much from a week-by-week kinda thing. So I shoot on Tuesdays the host, and the band on Thursdays. On Thursdays there are rehearsals going on but on Tuesdays the building is closed so I have the whole place to myself. And sometimes we shoot both on Thursday which is fun for me because, say it&rsquo;s like Paul Rudd [hosting] or whoever, the band is playing, Paul McCartney&rsquo;s playing so [Paul Rudd] gets all giddy about that. It&rsquo;s kind of fun, to be shooting when someone&rsquo;s rehearsing.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What were some of your favorite rehearsals you&rsquo;ve overheard? </strong><br />That, there you go. That was just so incredible, I&rsquo;ll never forget that, it was just amazing. Everybody in the studio was just feeling this sort of like LOVE of music. He just was so giving, Paul was. You know they only had to do two songs but they rehearsed about 15. Beatles songs, whatever. He&rsquo;d just start playing. There was a lot of love in the room for sure.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Do you attend the live shows each week?</strong><br />Yeah.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>That must be a lot of fun. Do you go to after parties?</strong><br />Eh, you know I&rsquo;ve been there for years now so not as much as I used to. But, every week feels like the first week. It just always does. There&rsquo;s always that excitement and adrenaline, you want to kind of hang out and just talk to people.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What kind of camera do you use?</strong><br />I use a [Canon EOS] 5D Mark II.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Why did you choose that kind?</strong><br />It has the key ability of doing bursts, which gives me the option to do these animated bumpers I sometimes do.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How do you decide when to use those?</strong><br />Just when the idea strikes, and if we have time. They&rsquo;re always fun to do and I try to do one every week.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Sometimes you use props in the photos. How do you decide whether to use them, and do they come from the prop department?</strong><br />Yeah we got a prop department, we got a costume department. I&rsquo;m very lucky to have all this stuff at my disposal. It&rsquo;s just like a lot of ideas, brainstorming each week. Since I&rsquo;ve been doing it so long, trying to come up with new ideas, kind of fit them with the right person. So, it&rsquo;s a great problem to have. I love prop-y stuff like that, in redoing old scenes that we&rsquo;re familiar with, putting somebody in a scene you wouldn&rsquo;t normally see them in, to look at it different, week by week.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>I love that <a href="http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/photos/justin-timberlake-snl-photos/12873/#item=280705">Elvis Costello-themed photo you took of Justin Timberlake.</a></strong><br />Yes, I&rsquo;m so glad you caught that!</p><p><strong>In the case of that, do you tell Justin Timberlake what you&#39;re creating?</strong><br />Yeah. And you know he just makes it his own. I&rsquo;m not telling him what to do, I&rsquo;m like, this is the reference, so he&rsquo;ll just take it and run, obviously. He looked at all kinds of different things, but I kind of wanted to stick with what it was, I wanted to stick to the recognizable image because he was jumping around or whatever in the same costume. That&rsquo;s [the image] I chose, but there&rsquo;s a lot of great outtakes.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What happens with all those outtakes?</strong><br />Um, you&rsquo;ll see them one day!</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How often do the subjects turn down a concept that you&rsquo;ve given them?</strong><br />Not too frequently. For the show they&rsquo;re pretty free and easy, and willing to do things. You know I have to say I have a lot of good ideas, so sometimes we have an embarrassment of riches really, there&rsquo;s too much and we can&rsquo;t really fit it in. So that&rsquo;s not too often, Of course a few times, but nothing too dramatic.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Do you ever re-use an idea that someone might have turned down?</strong><br />No, because our wardrobe people won&rsquo;t let me. I&rsquo;ll say something that&rsquo;s already been used and they&rsquo;ll be like no they did that back in 2004, remember? They have such a memory of it and I&rsquo;m like are you kidding, no one&rsquo;s going to remember! So no I can&rsquo;t do that.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Who are some hosts or musical guests that proposed their own ideas?</strong><br />Will Ferrell came up with an idea of him in a family portrait with a Chinese family. That was really funny. That&rsquo;s the one that sticks out most in my head.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Who have been some of your favorite hosts or musical guests to work with?</strong><br />They are all great. I of course get that question a lot. The ones who come back again and again are always wonderful, you feel like family--you know, like Alec [Baldwin] and Justin. But you know, everybody brings their own thing, and the ones that do it for the first time bring that extra jolt of excitement and newness.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>For the first time hosts, do you get a sense of what kind of host they&rsquo;ll be in your time working with them?</strong><br />Not really. On Tuesday it&rsquo;s early, they&rsquo;re pretty fresh to the week. There&rsquo;s so much that happens after that: meeting with all the writers and deciding what sketches to do, then a read-through with Lorne [Michaels] and the whole cast, and then there&rsquo;s rehearsals and cuts. I know they&rsquo;re always excited and thrilled to be a part of it, and it&rsquo;s so wonderful to be around that kind of energy.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Typically most SNL hosts tend to be actors or comedians, but they also have athletes and musicians come and host. Is there a type of host, career-wise, who tends to be the easiest to work with?</strong><br />&nbsp;It&rsquo;s really fun to have like a Peyton Manning or something like that. Well, he does commercials so that&rsquo;s not so true. But the ones that you don&rsquo;t [normally] see in this arena are really fun. Who would that be? Like Derek Jeter, when he did it, was great fun. Well, like a Mick Jagger, of course. For them to take the piss out of themselves: what a gift!</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Who was the first high-profile subject that you ever shot, before SNL? </strong><br />You take me so far back. Well, I remember Aerosmith being the first show I did. Before SNL, I don&rsquo;t remember.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Well for that Aerosmith show, what was that experience like and what did you learn from it?</strong><br />To throw them props. Do things like... I handed Steven Tyler a hairdryer, and it was the funniest picture. Like he actually blew dry his hair, that kind of stuff. I was like ah, that&rsquo;s something! There&rsquo;s something fun to do.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>So, you don&rsquo;t just shoot SNL. What are some shoots from your career that you&rsquo;re most proud of?</strong><br />I was actually on a tour with Aerosmith for a while, and I was proud of the archive I put together for them. I did Kate Hudson&rsquo;s wedding, I did Liv Tyler&rsquo;s wedding. The people I&rsquo;ve met that asked me to be part of their personal lives&mdash;and a lot of them have&mdash;that makes me really proud.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How does it feel to be the 344th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />&nbsp;I&rsquo;m exhilarated by it! I&rsquo;m inspired to keep doing what I do.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Follow Claire Zulkey on Twitter&nbsp; <a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey.</a> Want to read other Zulkey.com interviews? Go <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/interviews.php">here</a>. </em></p></p> Fri, 12 Apr 2013 08:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/mary-ellen-matthews-interview-106620 Fare enough? CTA hearing tonight http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/fare-enough-cta-hearing-tonight-106010 <p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/ct-met-getting-around-0311-20130311,0,6080901.column" target="_blank"><img alt="CTA fare machines (Vxla, on Flickr)" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CTA%20fares.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 256px; float: right;" title="CTA fare machines (Vxla, on Flickr)" /></a><b>CTA PRICE CHANGES.</b>&nbsp;A public hearing tonight gives you a chance to say your piece about higher fees that could accompany new fare card options for CTA and Pace riders. For one thing, the <i>Tribune</i>&#39;s Jon Hilkevitch reports, those Ventra cards that for months have been &quot;coming soon&quot; come with <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/ct-met-getting-around-0311-20130311,0,6080901.column" target="_blank">a &quot;dormancy fee&quot; that&#39;ll drain away your money if you don&#39;t use &#39;em enough</a>.<br />* <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18723847-761/wells-street-bridge-ready-for-cta-l-riders-monday-morning.html" target="_blank">Purple and Brown Line service returning to normal</a> after bridge work.<br />* Customer accused of <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-prosecutors-woman-attacked-cta-driver-trying-to-take-bathroom-break-20130310,0,5935147.story" target="_blank">attacking CTA driver taking bathroom break</a>.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><b>LONG ARM, BIG DATA.</b> Increasingly cheap technology and easy access to social-network profiles stands to make <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/mar/09/facebook-arrested-evgeny-morozov-extract" target="_blank">police work easier and more productive</a>. But that makes civil libertarians nervous.<br />* U. of C. law prof: &quot;If we really care about rights, <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/view_from_chicago/2013/03/dna_at_the_supreme_court_the_case_for_a_universal_database.html" target="_blank">we should mandate DNA testing ... of everyone</a>.&quot;<br />* ACLU: Drones make possible <a href="http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-criminal-law-reform/we-already-have-police-helicopters-so-whats-big-deal" target="_blank">new forms of privacy-invasion</a>.<br />* <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/How-Twitter-Knows-So-Much-About-You-Before-You-ve-4342501.php" target="_blank">Twitter knows bushels about you</a> before you even sign up.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><b>DISARMING NEWS.</b>&nbsp;The percentage of U.S. homes with guns is down over the last 40 years -- in all regions of the country -- according to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/us/rate-of-gun-ownership-is-down-survey-shows.html?hp&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">a new national survey</a>.<br />* NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he aims to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3460_162-57573442/bloomberg-pushes-background-checks/" target="_blank">&quot;level the playing field&quot; against the National Rifle Association</a>.<br />* Neil Steinberg on gun-rights advocates&#39; opposition to drones: &quot;On the one hand: The government cannot be trusted to identify a person as being so much of a threat he should be killed. On the other: <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/steinberg/18760728-452/rands-drone-diatribe-also-true-for-guns.html" target="_blank">Any random citizen can</a>.&quot;<br />* President Nixon considered&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/ap-enterprise-nixon-pushed-for-gun-control-once-considered-banning-all-handguns/2013/03/09/97ff5aa0-88e2-11e2-b412-2e8596e7c927_story.html" style="font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif;" target="_blank">a ban on all handguns</a>.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="144" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="http://www.hulu.com/embed.html?eid=agulkduufwyyjhov8fartw" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="256"></iframe><b>FUNNY THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED OVER THE WEEKEND.</b><br />* The return of about <strong><a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/03/10/snl_recap_justin_timberlake_gets_promoted_to_the_five_timers_club/" target="_blank">everyone who&#39;s ever hosted &quot;Saturday Night Live.&quot;</a></strong> (Or so it felt.)<br />* President Obama, his &quot;<a href="http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/09/17253545-at-gridiron-dinner-obama-spoofs-sequester-biden-rubio" target="_blank">joke writers ... placed on furlough</a>,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-jokes-nate-silver-marco-rubio-gridiron-dinner-2013-3">joking about Bob Woodward and Nate Silver</a>.<br />* Silver revealing whom he&#39;d like to <a href="http://gigaom.com/2013/03/10/how-a-bad-fantasy-baseball-team-turned-nate-silver-into-americas-top-data-nerd/" target="_blank">see as himself in a movie</a>.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><b>2 QUESTIONS MOST OFTEN ANSWERED INCORRECTLY IN THIS BLOG&#39;S LATEST NEWS QUIZ.</b></span></p><blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><em>*&nbsp;The New York Times shuttered its blog about _____.<br />*&nbsp;Chicago&#39;s murder total for February was _____.</em></span></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/news-quiz-not-affiliated-wait-wait-dont-tell-me-105961" target="_blank">Take the quiz now</a></strong> and improve those averages, won&#39;t you? </span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong></em><br /><em>* Suggestions for this blog?&nbsp;<a href="mailto:cmeyerson@wbez.org?subject=Things%20and%20stuff">Email anytime</a>.<br />* Get this blog by email, free. <a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank">Sign up here</a>.</em><br /><em>* Follow us on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbez" target="_blank">@WBEZ</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/meyerson" target="_blank">@Meyerson</a>.</em></span></p></p> Mon, 11 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/fare-enough-cta-hearing-tonight-106010 Ask Jim DeRogatis: LollaLeaks, Oscar-worthy music and Justin Timberlake becomes Bon Iver http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-02-21/ask-jim-derogatis-lollaleaks-oscar-worthy-music-and-justin-timberlake-becomes-bo <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-21/justin.png" alt="" /><p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to Jim DeRogatis on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/848 120222 jim.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-126196" player="null">848 120222 jim.mp3</span></p></div></div><p>At this rate, Jim is going to become our resident Dear Abby -- except much, much sterner.&nbsp;</p><p>Yes, Jim will be <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-02-14/jim-derogatis-answers-your-questions-about-anything-96390">taking calls</a>&nbsp;Wednesday on&nbsp;<em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>during his discussion with Tony Sarabia, something that we hope will be a regular thing. Simply call&nbsp;<strong>312-948-4848</strong>&nbsp;before 9 am tomorrow, and leave a voicemail asking him whatever you want. You should also feel free to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/wbez915">Tweet us</a>, or leave a comment on this post or on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/wbez915">Facebook</a>.</p><p>Some topics from this week to jog your music memory: the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-02-20/lollaleaks-fraud-96571">fakery behind LollaLeaks</a>&nbsp;and how that line-up compared to the real bands planned for music&nbsp;über-festivals Coachella and Bonaroo.&nbsp;</p><p>Or perhaps you want to know Jim's thoughts on Justin Timberlake's pretty accurate take on Bon Iver this past Saturday night on <em>SNL?</em></p><p>And the <a href="http://oscar.go.com/">Academy Awards </a>are finally, finally this weekend. Is there anything worth listening to in the nominated films?</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe frameborder="0" height="347" id="NBC Video Widget" src="http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=1386283" width="512"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 21 Feb 2012 21:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-02-21/ask-jim-derogatis-lollaleaks-oscar-worthy-music-and-justin-timberlake-becomes-bo Daily Rehearsal: Who will be Second City's next SNL star? http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-20/daily-rehearsal-who-will-be-second-citys-next-snl-star-96542 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-20/red eye up.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. "Everything about them was a statement. </strong></span></span>Their clothes, a rejection of materialism. Their drugs, a quest to get closer to God. Their long hair, a flag of freedom. They were hippies, the social watch dogs of the 1960s, and they played a pivotal role in American pop culture." That's right, <em>Hair</em> is back and remember, it's rated R for adult language and content (more specifically, "<span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 15px; ">a dimly lit 20-second scene with nudity that is non-sexual in nature."&nbsp;</span>At the Paramount starting March 14.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. Cutest press release ever</strong></span></span>: "the World's #1 Harry Potter Site,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sixhoursshort.com" target="_blank">Six Hours Short</a>&nbsp;is thrilled to announce a new Wizard discount for its fantastical comedy&nbsp;<em>Chester and the Unbearable Burden, Parts I and II</em>....Wizards, or those who dress like them, will receive 2 for 1 tickets to any performance of&nbsp;<em>Chester</em>. Tickets must be bought at the door, and all participants must show two wizardly items. Muggles, or those who dress like them, can't cash in on the wizard discount." It's at the Anthenaeum through March 4.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <a href="http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/226746"><em>Andromac</em></a>,</strong></span></span> scheduled to open at Think Tank, "will not see the daylight" due to "unforseen circumstances" says a press release from Belgian Company about town&nbsp;Salomme Speelt, who we <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-21/daily-rehearsal-whats-second-city-94230">last saw do&nbsp;<em>Date Me!</em> at Stage 773</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Good <a href="http://chitheatreaddict.com/2012/02/20/a-truly-superior-superior-donuts-at-mary-arrchie-theatre-co/">headline</a>:&nbsp;</strong></span></span></p><h2 style="padding-top: 18px; padding-right: 20px; padding-bottom: 17px; padding-left: 20px; font-size: 18px; border-top-width: 2px; border-top-style: solid; border-top-color: rgb(204, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman', Arial; text-align: left; vertical-align: top; line-height: 24px; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); background-image: url(http://s1.wp.com/wp-content/themes/pub/neo-sapien-05/images/bg_post_title.gif); background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat; "><a href="http://chitheatreaddict.com/2012/02/20/a-truly-superior-superior-donuts-at-mary-arrchie-theatre-co/" rel="bookmark" style="color: rgb(255, 255, 255); " title="A truly superior ‘Superior Donuts’ at Mary-Arrchie Theatre&nbsp;Co.">A truly superior ‘Superior Donuts’ at Mary-Arrchie Theatre&nbsp;Co.</a></h2><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Someone <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/comedy/15125669/who-will-be-second-citys-next-legends-a-toc-addendum ">taking issue with the <em>Redeye</em></a>?</strong></span></span> Say it ain't so! <em>TimeOut </em>responds to what they felt was false advertising by the publication with their&nbsp;<a href="http://www.redeyechicago.com/entertainment/ct-red-second-city-20120216,0,5490154.story">preview of Second City's UP</a>. The cover, seen here, says they'll guess who from the famed comedy company will make it to SNL, but the article inside has no such follow through. You're covered though:&nbsp;"I don't want to criticize our esteemed colleagues at the&nbsp;<em>RedEye</em>, but since their paper offers no hints or insights as to who might break out at Second City next, allow me to fill in a few blanks with some thoughts of my own," says Jason Heidemann, before naming familiar faces like Katie Rich and Holly Laurent as his picks.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-20/red eye up.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 373px; " title=""></p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Mon, 20 Feb 2012 15:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-20/daily-rehearsal-who-will-be-second-citys-next-snl-star-96542 Daily Rehearsal: Paul Brittain is not long for SNL http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-31/daily-rehearsal-paul-brittain-not-long-snl-95993 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-31/paul brittain copy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-31/paul brittain copy.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 235px; " title="Brittain in character"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. And by not long, we mean not at all.</strong></span></span>&nbsp;Former Chicagoan Paul Brittain is no more at SNL, <a href="http://insidetv.ew.com/2012/01/31/saturday-night-live-paul-brittain-leaving/">reports <em>Entertainment Weekly</em></a>, after a brief stint on the show in this and last season. He will not be in this weekend's Channing Tatum-hosted fiesta. According to an unnamed source (aren't they the best kind?), Brittain left because he&nbsp;“had the opportunity to pursue other projects, and he and the show parted ways amicably." This move isn't as shocking as it seems; Hannibal Buress did similarly, <a href="http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episodes/episode_220_-_hannibal_buress">leaving his cushy job</a> as a writer on <em>30 Rock</em> because he believed so much in his stand-up (it helped that that was going well). And for those assuming that Brittain was fired, think again -- <em>SNL </em>has a history <a href="http://thecomicscomic.typepad.com/thecomicscomic/2009/09/addition-through-subtraction-snl-fires-michaela-watkins-and-casey-wilson.html">of rather uncermoniously dumping performers</a>, so it seems unlikely that Brittain would be fired and be able to spin it as his choice.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. <em>Legally Blonde </em>has spurred</strong></span></span> some choice headlines and surprising reviews. For instance, "<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/stage/10307624-421/legally-blonde-pretty-in-a-pretty-darn-good-production.html">'Legally Blonde' pretty in a pretty darn good production</a>" (<em>Sun-Times</em>) and "<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/ct-ent-0130-legally-blonde-review-20120130,0,5385936.column">'Blonde' will, like, totally grow on you</a>" (<em>Tribune</em>). It's at the Marriott through April 1.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Kathy Griffin returned to Chicago</strong></span></span>, and spoke about it. "This city is still considered to be stomping grounds for Oprah Winfrey, so she spoke of Winfrey growing into messiah status and being bored with her new Next Chapter," <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Kathy-Griffins-very-gay-show/35787.html">writes Jerry Nunn</a> in the <em>Windy City Times</em>. "Griffin appeared earlier in the day on the OWN Network for The Rosie Show so maybe the big O will be watching her next time." Other than that, &nbsp;there were many jokes about Anderson Cooper (she read his texts aloud!) and the Kardashians.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Felix Shuman</strong></span></span>, the founder of the Jeff Awards, <a href="http://legacy.suntimes.com/obituaries/chicagosuntimes/obituary.aspx?n=felix-shuman&amp;pid=155454580">died earlier this month</a>; read a <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/stage/10334388-421/felix-shuman-co-founder-of-jefferson-awards-dead-at-87.html">lovely obituary in the <em>Sun-Times</em></a> for him.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. This week is <em>the </em>week that&nbsp;Keegan and Peele</strong></span></span> do press for their new show <em>Key &amp; Peele</em> that premieres on Comedy Central tonight. <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2012/01/key-and-peele-guys-on-their-comedy-central-debut-playing-the-race-card-and-poop-jokes.html">Read </a>this interview with them on Vulture, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/01/27/145838407/for-black-nerds-everywhere-two-comedy-heroes">listen </a>to them on Morning Edition, and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/31/arts/harvard-sailing-team-breathes-new-life-into-sketch-comedy.html?_r=1">see </a>them mentioned in this <em>New York Times </em>article. And watch the clip below that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-11-30/if-cme-group-moves-can-occupy-chicago-have-building-94461">lots of people</a> seem to like.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/JzprLDmdRlc" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 31 Jan 2012 17:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-31/daily-rehearsal-paul-brittain-not-long-snl-95993 The Julia Sweeney Interview http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-12-16/julia-sweeney-interview-94966 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-16/julia sweeney.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-16/julia sweeney.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 177px; " title="Julia Sweeney at a recent performance at 'The Paper Machete' (Photo by Erin Nekervis)" />I&rsquo;m thrilled to be featuring today&rsquo;s interviewee on the site. She&rsquo;s a former <em>Saturday Night Live</em> cast member who in recent years has been known for her funny, touching autobiographical monologues like <em>God Said Ha!</em>, about her brother and her both battling cancer, and <em>Letting Go of God</em>, wherein she discusses her Catholic upbringing and eventual relinquishment of her faith (<a href="http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&amp;search-alias=dvd&amp;ref=dp_dvd_bl_act&amp;field-keywords=Julia%20Sweeney">both monologues are available on DVD</a>.) She&rsquo;s currently presenting live essays on parenting in preparation for her upcoming book, tentatively titled <em>If it&rsquo;s Not One Thing, It&rsquo;s Your Mother</em>. Catch her this Saturday at <a href="http://evanstonspace.com/artists/Julia-sweeney">Space</a> in Evanston or later this month as she performs stories with musical interludes from <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkJRYEe9nUs">Jill Sobule</a>. You can read more of Julia <a href="http://juliasweeney.blogspot.com/">here on her blog</a>. Oh yes, and she was also <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_%28Saturday_Night_Live%29">Pat</a>.<br /><br /><strong>How much input has your daughter had on your parenting essays thus far? &nbsp;</strong><br />Well, if what you mean by input is that she gives me direct ideas, ideas she wants me to write down, I would say very very minimal. &nbsp;But many of my essays have been about her. &nbsp;For the last ten years, my life has been dominated by my job as a mother, and so naturally that is the source of most of my ideas for writing essays. &nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>What have you wanted to add to the discussion of parenting that you think has been lacking? &nbsp;</strong><br />Well, I think every single person - and not just mothers and those thinking of becoming mothers, but absolutely everyone - should read <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Price-Motherhood-Important-World-Valued/dp/0805066195">Ann Crittenden&#39;s <em>The Price of Motherhood</em>.</a>&nbsp;I have to say that reading this book has been up there with the books that got me to renounce religion - meaning, it has completely turned my head around about parenting. I guess I think most of the discussion about parenting - well, mothering, has been about these two erroneous ideas, that on the one hand the mothers who choose to stay home aren&#39;t really &quot;doing anything that much.&quot; And those that go to work and further their career are cold and heartless and aren&#39;t putting their children first. &nbsp;The truth is that almost all women want to be mothers and they want to have careers. Almost all mothers want to stay at home for the first five years of their children&#39;s lives and then work part time until their children go to college. That is overwhelmingly what most women want. But our society and government here in the U.S. makes this very difficult. I guess it seems like the discussion has been steering towards women against other women instead of women uniting for better conditions in the workplace - more time off with pay, more support, more time for fathers to have off as well. That kind of thing. I feel I have only recently become enlightened on this topic.<br /><br /><strong>Prior to <em>God Said Ha!</em>, what if anything in your career had prepared you best for the storytelling/monologue format in which you&rsquo;ve been working since that premiered? &nbsp;</strong><br />Well, it was all because of Kathy Griffin, actually. She made me get up and tell personal stories on stage. I hadn&#39;t done that before. I was at the Groundlings and she organized this night to get up and tell personal stories. Up to that time, I had only performed as an actress, in character, in sketches. But I began to talk about my personal life. It was fun. Then Kathy encouraged me to get involved with this group of story tellers organized by Beth Lapides called <a href="http://uncabaret.com/">&quot;The Uncabaret.&quot;</a>&nbsp;That&#39;s when I began to go on Sunday nights and perform, again telling only personal true stories. That&#39;s how it all started.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br /><strong>In terms of improv or TV or characters, are there any forms of comedy you haven&rsquo;t practice professionally in a while that you miss? Do you think you&rsquo;d get back to them? &nbsp;</strong><br />I really miss performing in character. I didn&#39;t think I did miss it, but after seeing <em>Bridesmaids </em>- which I think is just brilliant - they really hit a home run with that movie, I wanted to jump up on screen and start performing. &nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>How did you come to collaborate with <a href="http://www.jillsobule.com/">Jill Sobule</a>? </strong><br />I was a fan of Jill&#39;s for a long time before I met her. In fact, I had written a pilot and wanted her to do the theme song. Our lawyers had talked to each other and everything. Anyhoo - I went to this TED conference in Monterey, and Jill was there, and we met! We were so happy to finally meet, this was like 10 years after we had acknowledged our mutual admiration through our representatives. We hung out at the conference and then realized that we lived only three blocks from each other in L.A. So we started to walk over to each other&#39;s houses and hang out. At some point, Jill had a gig at Largo in L.A. and she asked me to come and do some patter in-between her songs. I did and the Jill and Julia shows began. We&#39;ve done them for years now, like five years? Yeah, about that. We&#39;re sort of winding them down - we have a New Year&#39;s Eve show, our third in a row, at Space in Evanston. We&#39;ve gone on the road in the summer. We&#39;ve had a lot of fun.<br /><br /><strong>What other music have you been listening to lately? &nbsp;</strong><br />Oh, my god, I know this is not very unusual or anything, but I&#39;m going crazy over the Black Keys new album and especially the new music video, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_426RiwST8">Lonely Boy.</a>&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>I was listening to <a href="http://wtfpod.libsyn.com/episode-231-penn-jillette">an interview with Penn Jillette </a>last week and he provided one of the most lovely rationalizations for being an atheist that I&rsquo;ve ever heard, which is that his own mother&rsquo;s love could not be surpassed by the love of a god because his mother&rsquo;s love was provable. It altered the way I used to generalize atheists as being know-it-all killjoys. I wanted to know, who are some other atheists (aside from yourself) who you think also provide gentle, optimistic explanations for their beliefs as opposed to the &ldquo;If you believe in God you&rsquo;re a gullible yokel&rdquo; tone? &nbsp;</strong><br />Well, I actually think <a href="http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/incbios/dennettd/dennettd.htm">Daniel Dennett</a> and <a href="http://richarddawkins.net/">Richard Dawkins</a> are gentle - okay maybe not gentle, but optimistic. I find them to be kind and filled with awe at the fact that we are all alive and that we evolved and oh my gosh, here we are. I would include Steven Pinker too, he is an atheist, but he is very gentle and kind and optimistic. I loved his book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Better-Angels-Our-Nature-Violence/dp/0670022950">&quot;The Better Angels of our Nature&quot;</a> which just came out.<br /><br /><strong>Do you do anything for Christmas (or the winter solstice?)</strong> &nbsp;<br />We totally celebrate Christmas, which I think is a secular holiday. We have a tree, and lots of old decorations that mean a lot to us. We have stockings on the mantle and we jump up and open presents. Some years we even attend Mass, in fact this Christmas we will definitely attend Christmas Mass since my mother will be with us. I love it all. I love the church and the ritual of the Mass.<br /><br /><strong>How often do people you don&rsquo;t know either try to convince you there is a god or tell you your beliefs are wrong? &nbsp;</strong><br />Never. Really, it never even comes up. &nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>When you were working on <em>Letting Go of God</em>, did you have any inkling of how much and for how long you&rsquo;d be associated with atheism? &nbsp;</strong><br />Well, am I? &nbsp;To me, that is only known by a small number of people. Most people I meet and know - parents of kids at Mulan&#39;s school, for example, have no idea and think of me mainly as the girl who played Pat on &ldquo;Saturday Night Live.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>Why do you think it&rsquo;s so newsworthy when a person of note declares they&rsquo;re an atheist? </strong><br />I think it&#39;s less so, now. Thanks to people like Seth McFarlane, and Kathy Griffin, and Roseanne Barr, and Dawkins and all the rest. &nbsp;It&#39;s not such a big deal now, I think.<br /><br /><strong>Which of the monologues you&rsquo;ve brought onstage were the most difficult to put together and perform? &nbsp;</strong><br />Without a doubt,<em> Letting Go of God</em>. &nbsp;That was the most difficult task, putting that show together and then putting the show up. &nbsp;It&#39;s the thing I&#39;m most proud of, I think it&#39;s my best work.<br /><br /><strong>Have you found Chicago audiences to be very different than those in L.A. (or other cities?) &nbsp;</strong><br />I love Chicago audiences, in fact, I think - if I may generalize - that Chicago matches my own point of view the best. To me, they laugh when it&#39;s funny and they don&#39;t when it isn&#39;t and they aren&#39;t entering the theater with an agenda or a chip on their shoulder. I say that because I felt in New York, where I did love to perform, that when people walked into a theater they had a very skeptical &quot;show me what you&#39;ve got&quot; attitude &nbsp;In New York, I felt the audience wanted to laugh, but it was most important to be moved - to have something deeper happen. In L.A., people flat out just want to be entertained (again, a gross generalization, but still --) and L.A. audiences feel uncomfortable if you are trying to take them farther than just the laugh. Of course not all of them, I would find my audiences. But my monologues would all start out the same - people would show up wanting to laugh and then i could feel them squirming in there seats - a feeling of &quot;don&#39;t get too serious on us, now...&quot; feeling. &nbsp;But in Chicago - I have to say it, it&#39;s just friggin&#39; normal! They don&#39;t have some preconceived attitude about the show (my sense anyway) except they want it to be good. &nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>Has living in Chicago or on the North Shore inspired you as an artist in any particular way? &nbsp;</strong><br />Well, I am in love with the city. I am suddenly in a very women-central environment, as a mother and seeing so many other at-home mothers. That is really different. And it is what I&#39;m writing about now in my book - oh yeah, did I tell you I&#39;m writing a book. About being a mother. So, yes. It has inspired me.</p><p><br /><strong>What live shows here have you seen that you&rsquo;ve enjoyed? &nbsp;</strong><br />I really loved Esperanza Spaulding, who I saw at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra a couple of months ago. I love the Looking Glass Theater. I really loved <a href="http://lookingglasstheatre.org/content/box_office/last_act"><em>The Last Act of Lilka Kadison. </em>&nbsp;</a><br /><br /><strong>What are some of your favorite post-SNL projects of your former castmates? &nbsp;</strong><br />Well, of my castmates? Hands down, it&#39;s Al Franken becoming a Senator.<br /><br /><strong>What&rsquo;s the workday like for the consultant to a TV show? &nbsp;</strong><br />You go in and talk through story lines, give suggestions, hear people&#39;s pitches, and pitch ideas. It&#39;s a really fun job.<br /><br /><strong>Looking ahead, what do you think your next monologue or one-woman show would be about? &nbsp;</strong><br />Ohmygod, I don&#39;t know. Maybe about how I fear for the future apocalypse. (Hilarious! Funny!) Or about how we should respect the work of care taking more than to assign it a minimum wage. (Again hilarious!!!!)<br /><br /><strong>What&rsquo;s your favorite thing to order at <a href="http://www.unionevanston.com/">Union Pizza</a>? </strong><br />The lamb pizza. So good, so fantastic.<br /><br /><strong>How does it feel to be the 299th person interviewed for Zulkey.com? </strong>&nbsp;<br />Completely honored!!!!</p></p> Fri, 16 Dec 2011 15:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-12-16/julia-sweeney-interview-94966 Daily Rehearsal: Seven Minutes in Heaven with Ellen (Degeneres) http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-10/daily-rehearsal-seven-minutes-heaven-ellen-degeneres-93004 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-10/seven minutes .jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-10/migdoll.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 223px;" title="Herbert Migdoll has one cool website, and cooler art"><strong><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">1. The Joffrey's<em> Don Quixote</em> opens tonight</span></span></strong>, but there's a more interesting person behind the scenes.&nbsp;Herbert Migdoll, the staff photographer for the Joffrey, has been working there longer than any other employee. "He is the last link between the company’s past and present,"<a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/a-vibrant-career-at-the-ballet-without-dancing-a-step"> writes Meribah Knight</a>. In other ways, Migdoll might remind you of another famous photographer, <a href="http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/billcunninghamnewyork/">Bill Cunningham</a>: "Outside his work, Migdoll’s life is one of austerity. He has never married. His rented room provides him a place to sleep but not much else. His real life exists where his work is — his studio and the Joffrey."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. Last week, the man we'll now be calling Charles "old crank" Isherwood</strong></span></span> <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/theater-talkback-for-one-critic-its-a-rapp">declared he won't see another of Adam Rapp's plays</a>&nbsp;ever again. But he also wrote, "Contrary to popular myth, drama critics don’t salivate at the chance to savage a playwright’s work. It’s still less appealing to continue doing so, year in and year out. Who wants to be cast as the playground bully who won’t leave the poor kid alone?"&nbsp;Seriously, impressive work on Rapp's part, being so terrible as to inspire someone to never see your work again. Bravo.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-10/seven minutes .jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 164px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Here's everything you'd <a href="http://www.avclub.com/chicago/articles/mike-obrien,62835/">ever want to know about <em>Seven Minutes in Heaven</em></a></strong></span></span>. No, not the game you played in middle school, but the new web series by <em>SNL </em>writer Mike O'Brien. He's had on guests like Amy Poehler and Ellen Degeneres, but his less-than-auspicious beginning is far more interesting. <em>The A.V. Club</em> flashes back to a <em>Reader </em>review of one of O'Brien's first plays when he was still living in Chicago, written by Zac Thompson. Thompson <a href="http://m.chicagoreader.com/chicago/mr-1000-miles-per-hour/Content?oid=925503">apparently thought</a> that the play, divided into two acts, was by two different people.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Tonight&nbsp;at 7 pm, the Goodman's Education Department</strong></span></span> will be visited by WBEZ's <em>Sound Opinions</em> crew (Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot) to discuss the <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org//Season/production.aspx?tess=4882">price of fame</a> in today's performance industry. They'll be joined by iO's Charna Halpern, and there will be an interactive game hosted by Collaboraction; "The atmosphere will be that of a red-carpet event, in which each attendee is essentially fulfilling the role of a celebrity—forced to make their way past a throng of paparazzi just to get in." Sounds...rough. It's all part of the Goodman's CONTEXT series, and is inspired by <em>Red</em>.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. <em>The Wall Street Journal</em> <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203388804576614920005071348.html">takes on Chicago theatre</a></strong></span></span>; this time 'round, it's Tom Stoppard's <em>The Real Thing</em> at Writers' Theatre. Terry Teachout says that he doubts "that <em>The Real Thing</em> will soon receive a better production than the one now playing at Chicago's Writers' Theatre." (Also, he "strongly suggest[s] that you leave this one alone", when referring to Adam Rapp's&nbsp;<em>Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling</em>, so maybe he and Charles Isherwood should form a club.<em>&nbsp;</em></p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Mon, 10 Oct 2011 14:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-10/daily-rehearsal-seven-minutes-heaven-ellen-degeneres-93004 The Weekly Guide: What gets Julia Sweeney out of the house http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-11/weekly-guide-what-gets-julia-sweeney-out-house-82157 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Julia Sweeney Getty_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>For many years, this week's guest for <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wbez.org/series/weeklyguide"><em>The Weekly Guide</em></a> was probably part of your weekend routine. Julia Sweeney was a regular on <em>Saturday Night Live</em> in the '90s. After leaving the show, she hit the theater circuit with performances like her one woman show &ndash; <a target="_blank" href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119207/"><em>God Said Ha!</em></a></p><p>At the moment she&rsquo;s less about the stage and more all over the page. Sweeney is working on a book and a screenplay from her home in Wilmette. So what does a self-proclaimed homebody do on the weekends? Host Alison Cuddy found out when she spoke to the multi-faceted Sweeney during the latest installment of <em>The Weekly Guide.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><br />Julia's Picks</strong>:<br /><a target="_blank" href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/Production.aspx?prod=111"><em>The Trinity River Plays</em></a> at the Goodman Theatre<br /><br /><a target="_blank" href="http://www.wastelandmovie.com/"><em>Waste Land</em> </a>at <a target="_blank" href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/waste-land ">Music Box Theatre</a></p><p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/">Adler Planetarium</a></p><p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.thespicehouse.com/?gclid=CJ_qm46ggKcCFUdrKgod5ibgfQ">Spice House in Evanston</a></p><p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.artic.edu/aic/">Art Institute of Chicago</a><br /><br /><em>DJ M. Sylvia Music Button: Supernova, &quot;Beat Me Back&quot;</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Feb 2011 14:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-11/weekly-guide-what-gets-julia-sweeney-out-house-82157