Solange, The Lonely Island Team Up For Grammar Lesson

For those unfamiliar with the term, "hashtag rap" refers to a delivery device in rap where the MC, instead of using "like" or "as a" in setting up a simile, just cuts straight to the word for emphasis. It’s a common tactic especially in the world of battle rap, where lines like these (usually "I’ll put [x] in a box") have become endlessly parodied clichés in and of themselves. In "Semicolon," their latest video for YouTube Comedy Week, the Digital Short veterans of The Lonely Island riff on the concept, with most welcome help from Maya Rudolph and Solange, who makes cheesy lines like "We run the game/Umpire/we chase the night/Young Squire" sound ever so smooth. 

Of course, within about 30 seconds of watching this video, those familar with the rules of grammar will notice that The Lonely Island and Solange are using the semicolon incorrectly. Instead of using the punctuation mark to separate two independent clauses, they use it to separate an independent clause from a word for emphasis, the typical job of a colon. And, as Slate’s David Haglund points out, there are a few other errors in need of a copy edit. But maybe that was the point of it all, to elaborately disguise a treatise on the futility of living your (that’s "your," not "you’re") life as a pedant and feeling better about yourself because of it in the middle of a spoof of hashtag rap. That’s probably overthinking it, but if that was the intention, then good job, Andy Samberg and collaborators. 

So, pedants and self-identifying grammar fascists, you should probably beware this video as it will either make you into a victim of trollbait or frustrate you to no end, depending on your interpretation. But, if you enjoy deliberately wack wordplay, kinetic typography and/or the presence of Solange Knowles in anything, you will enjoy this video. Watch.

‘Up All Night’ Is Basically Over

Up All Night was actually a decent show: Maya Rudolph, Will Arnett and Christina Applegate can’t not be funny and it’s hard not to like a show with a cute baby in every episode. But ever since Applegate announced she won’t be returning to the show, it has basically been falling apart.

At first there were rumors that Lisa Kurdrow would replace Applegate on the program. But now Arnett is supposedly being wooed by CBS to headline another sitcom.  

But now Rudolph is pregnant with her fourth child, which  may have required incorporation of her pregnancy into the show. But it seems as if it’s a fool’s errand: creator Emily Spivey also left the show within the past two month and  Kim Masters reports at The Hollywood Reporter that writers aren’t even sure the program will be kept alive and are seeking new work. 

Well, at least it is somewhat of a consolation that TV shows can be as fucked up work places as anywhere else. 

Too bad. It was a good show.

Contact the author of this post at Follow me on Twitter.

Let Prince Wake You Up With His New Track, ‘Breakfast Can Wait’

Even when Prince is being absolutely ridiculous, it’s hard not to love everything he does. Following up on his driving, blues-rock single “Screwdriver” released at the end of January, His Royal Badness has released “Breakfast Can Wait,” a smooth, funky little ode to the most important meal of the day, or rather, delaying the most important meal of the day for more intimate activities.

And you’d better believe there’s food imagery happening: “Hotcakes smothered in honey, I’mma have to pass / fresh cup of coffee, no no, I’ve gotta have you in my lap.” The first two thirds or so groove, but then Prince goes into this chipmunk voice pitch distortion thing at the end, which totally kills the mood. But maybe that’s what he was going for. He’s Prince, after all. Still, it’s definitely worth a listen and hopefully an indicator of even more Prince.

If that’s not enough Prince (and it’s never enough Prince), the all-star Prince tribute show at Carnegie Hall is right around the corner on March 7th, featuring an impressive and varied lineup including D’Angelo, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Talib Kweli, Sandra Bernhard, Bettye LaVette, The Roots and Princess with Gretchen Lieberum and Maya Rudloph. Yes, please. And tickets for the show will benefit a number of arts and education programs for New York children. What’s not to love?

Have a listen to “Breakfast Can Wait” below, or if the video doesn’t work, you can download the new track for the low, low price of 0.88 over at Prince’s website.

Funny Screen People Jon Hamm and Maya Rudolph Do Funny Things on Stage

Jon Hamm and Maya Rudolph have been funny in the same space lots of times. They’ve both appeared on Saturday Night Live, they were in the movies Bridesmaids and Friends With Kids together, and, back in 2011, they shared some scenes together for an anniversary edition of The Paul F. Tompkins Show, a variety show at L.A.’s Largo Theater hosted by the also very funny Paul F. Tompkins.

Tompins has begun releasing clips from the live shows online, and now we have this little gem. Tompkins attempts to hypnotize Rudolph at one point, Hamm arrives from the future to inform us that "human beings are at war… with monsters." Also, he’s Rudolph’s son. Blissful silliness ensues, and the whole thing feels very loose and improv-like, even though it’s scripted. And, you know, it’s the middle of the week, the weather’s been abysmal, the news has been full of dread, someone scuffed your shoes on the train today. We could all use a laugh, and as far as laughs go, this has quite a few. 

[via Splitsider]

Sundance Hit ‘The Way, Way Back’ Looks to Break New Records

Fox Searchlight has had quite a year. Between Beasts of the Souther Wild, Sound of My Voice, The Sessions, and now their latest Sundance hit, The East, the company is setting a standard in distribution, putting out films that deserve to be seen and heard with the backing of a company who can provide a home for the artists behind them. And with some of the most talked about films of the year having had their premieres this weekend at Sundance, distributors are chomping at the bit to obtain their festival favorites Yesterday, Relativity Media broke records with their acquisition of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon’s Addiction for a staggering $4 million dollar price—unusual for a Sundance feature. But now it looks like Fox Searchlight is about to one up them—set to pay a hefty $10 million for The Way, Way Back. From the writers of The Descendants Nat Faxon and Jim Rash in his directorial debut, the film is an eccentric coming-of-age story starring Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, and Rob Corddry. Here’s what critics are saying about it thus far:

But the biggest reason people might be talking about The Way, Way Back for a long time — and quoting it ad nauseum — is Rockwell, who simply pulls off the best Meatballs/Stripes/Ghostbusters-era Bill Murray since the legend himself. (EW)

In terms of production value, "The Way, Way Back" looks great as it is, reminiscent of the similarly sweet-and-sour "Little Miss Sunshine" (on which Carell and Collette previously collaborated), though that film certainly made more of its signature vehicle. (Variety)

Despite the familiarity of this setup, Way Back is a charmer, putting refreshingly little emphasis on Duncan’s romantic needs and allowing family melodrama to erupt and simmer down without pat resolution. Like a kid who gets a free summer in an exclusive beach town and chooses to spend his days manning a chlorine-and-concrete water park, it knows when not to take the obvious route. (The Hollywood Reporter)



Personal Faves: Maya Rudolph Hosts ‘SNL’

Instead of ending the year with a slew of Best Of lists, BlackBook asked our contributors to share the most important moments in art, music, film, television, and fashion that took place in 2012. Here, Joe Reid writes about Maya Rudolph’s return to Studio 8H as host of Saturday Night Live.

Since the beginning and the "Not Ready for Primetime Players," Saturday Night Live has always boasted something of a familial atmosphere. Even when—as has been documented often—those families were fucked-up and quarrelsome. The eras of SNL close ranks around themselves in our memory, though, and even when the reality resists it, we write these narratives anyway. This is why I will never not be fascinated by what goes on during the goodbye hugs at the end of each episode. Such a great peek into family dynamics. This sense of family on SNL has been especially strong on the last several years. The overlapping Tina Fey/Seth Meyers eras have been characterized by constant opportunities for crossover—on 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon—and a sense that graduated cast members are welcome back at Studio 8H any time.

And yet even by those standards, Maya Rudolph’s hosting gig last February felt especially familial. In the nearly five years since Rudolph ended her time as a cast member, she’d been back several times, but this was her first gig as host, and the sense of rallying around her for her big moment was palpable. Despite the fact that she was already starring in a sitcom on NBC, there was no reference made to Up All Night (the same would be true of Christina Applegate’s hosting gig in October, helping to cement Up All Night as one of the great "is that still on?" sitcoms of our time). It was the previous summer’s Bridesmaids that provided the boost in stature for Rudolph to host herself. Bridesmaids was a big influencer on SNL last season. Melissa McCarthy had been on to host in October, and the success of the film was probably that last push that Kristen Wiig needed to declare this her last season on the show. Which meant, in addition to Rudolph experiencing an old home week, there was also a sense that she was helping to usher Wiig into that great Beyond-SNL phase of her career, a sense that was only galvanized by Amy Poehler’s extended cameo.

Everybody figured Poehler would be back for a reprise of Bronx Beat, her and Rudolph’s popular recurring sketch. Betty and Jodi fell right back into their world-weary rhythms (it feels like Hoarders was a phenomenon created specifically to be gabbed about on "Bronx Beat"), and it only felt appropriate that their guests would be the sound guys played by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake (one of the more popular recurring hosts of the Fey/Meyers era, keeping us on trend). 

NEXT: "The 2011-12 season had turned into Senior Week at high school."

Both Poehler and Timberlake would show up again during the show: Timberlake as Bon Iver in an "At Home with Beyonce and Jay-Z" sketch (though he would later TOTALLY puss out by carrying an "I <3 Bon Iver" sign during the goodbyes), and Poehler in her triumphant return to Weekend Update, and specifically to "REALLY??!! With Seth and Amy." That Beyonce and Jay-Z sketch was one of those treasure boxes filled with random fantastic celebrity impersonations, specifically Taran Killam’s Brad Pitt and Nasim Pedrad’s Nicki Minaj (which tragically was never paired with Kristen Wiig’s Bjork before Wiig left the show). But it was the return of "REALLY??!!" that sold the homecoming theme better than anything else. Seth and Amy had such great chemistry together, and his happiness at having her back for a week was practically radiating through the TV.

With Wiig and Samberg on their way out the door (and Jason Sudekis rumored to be as well), the 2011-12 season had turned into Senior Week at high school, with sketches seeming loopier and more likely to devolve into a pile of giggles. Wanton character-breaking like that can often test an audience’s patience with the show (see: the entire Jimmy Fallon-Horatio Sanz era), but for viewers who knew what was up, the season felt like watching fantastically funny old friends have a well-deserved goof-off day. (That day lasted 22 episodes, but whatever.) Thus the appeal of something like "Super Showcase," which consisted entirely of Wiig and Rudolph using weird voices to make them (and Bill Hader) laugh. The fact that Vanessa Bayer—new, still-trying-to-prove-herself Vanessa Bayer—was the only one to hold it together only strengthened the "Senior Skip Day" impression. 

NEXT: "The entire episode was consistently strong, a near-impossible feat for SNL."

The entire episode was consistently strong, a near-impossible feat for SNL. At 90 minutes worth of crammed-together sketches, perfection is an unattainable goal. (It also means that even the worst episodes can be redeemed by one great sketch, so it works both ways.) But Rudolph’s episode was remarkably steady: the cold open about racist "Lin-sanity" is so much more dated than anybody ever thought possible (it’s only been ten months but feels like ten years) but it also nailed that moment in time. The "what would it take for African Americans to not support Obama?" sketch was better than what usually gets tossed out at 12:45 AM. "What’s Up With That?" is never going to be for everybody, but it manages to get me every time, if for no other reason than the gleeful look on Sudekis’s face while he’s doing the running man. But, fine, say that’s the one "bad" sketch of the night. It’s more than redeemed by something like Maya Angelou’s prank show, if only for the part where Angelou assures Dr. Cornel West that her goof on him was not an act of malice but an act of whimsy. 

But really, what are we even talking about? Why did I just spend all that time talking about the rest of the episode when the show attained perfection via 30 short seconds in the second-last sketch? Not even the full "Obama Show" sketch. Just those perfectly calibrated Cosby Show opening credits. My favorite moments from those credits, in order: 1) Maya as Michelle Obama as Clare Huxtable, wagging her index finger at the camera; 2) Maya as Michelle Obama as Clare Huxtable dancing; 3) Jason Sudekis as Joe Biden as Theo Huxtable dancing; 4) Fred Armisen as Barack Obama as Cliff Huxtable doing the thing with the fingers; 5) Fred Armisen as Barack Obama as Cliff Huxtable dancing around Agent Conners. In the months since, I have watched those credits roughly seven thousand times. They don’t lose their luster. I only regret that the tag at the end of the sketch, where Poehler shows up as Hillary Clinton to lip-sych Ray Charles in parody of the greatest moment in Cosby Show history, isn’t available online due to the scourge of our time: music rights. MUSIC RIIIIIIIGHTS!!! [shakes fist]

It was only fitting, really, that this particular episode of Saturday Night Live was highlighted by a parody of one of television’s great families. Here’s hoping there’s one more of these homecoming episodes before Meyers, Hader, and company all move on. When does Kristen Wiig’s next movie open, anyway?

Follow Joe Reid on Twitter.  

Adam Scott Interviews His ‘Friends With Kids’ Co-Star & Director Jennifer Westfeldt

We’ll forgive you for assuming that Friends With Kids is a pseudo-sequel to Bridesmaids. Four alumni from last summer’s zeitgeist-destroying smash appear in writer and first-time director Jennifer Westfeldt’s heartfelt story about phase two of marital promise—parenthood. Chris O’Dowd and Maya Rudolph play a couple who notice the romantic sparks fading as their parental duties increase, and Kristen Wiig turns up in the surprisingly somber role of a woman whose marriage to the moody Jon Hamm isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But Westfeldt, who is best known for starring in and co-writing the indie sleeper Kissing Jessica Stein—and for dating Mr. Hamm—wasn’t trying to capitalize on Bridesmaids’ runaway success. She was just trying to make the grueling process of moviemaking a touch easier by casting her unusually talented friends.

Westfeldt, who also stars in the film, saved the crucial role of her onscreen love interest for one of her closest pals, Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott. Westfeldt and Scott play best friends who, upon the realization that their chances of getting married and having children are slipping away with age, strike up an arrangement to have a kid together by splitting the responsibilities without worrying about how the strain of parenthood will affect their friendship. They learn, of course, that they’re not immune to the emotional complications their married friends display so openly, especially when the pair heads back into the dating pool in search of their own respective mates (played by Ed Burns and Megan Fox).

“Adam was on board from moment one, and was willing to keep putting this somewhere in his schedule as we tried to make it come together,” Westfeldt says. “It would never have been the same without him.” It seemed a natural fit, then, to ask Adam Scott to chat with his costar and director about the stress of directing her first feature, romantic comedies, and finding her inspiration from her best friends. He happily obliged.

Adam Scott: So, Jennifer, I’m going to interview you!
Jennifer Westfeldt:
I like it!

AS: It’s been a year since we filmed Friends With Kids. We were fully into shooting by now, right?
I feel like it was about a year and a week ago that we started. We were in the thick of it at this point last year.

AS: You made it look easy, but I would imagine that directing and starring in a movie is insane.
Yeah, I learned as the process went on that it was just a terrible idea. The only way for us to keep our cast was for me to step in and do it.

AS: You know this material better than anyone, don’t you think?
Thank you! I hope that’s how it turns out. At the time it felt so intense. To do any independent film—as an actor, a writer, or as a producer—it’s such an uphill battle.

AS: I don’t remember you sleeping while we were making this movie.
Yeah. We had to go about it day-to-day. There was no way to follow a master plan. The weather would thwart us, or we’d lose a location, or an actor’s schedule would change. Besides you and me, everyone else was sort of in and out within eight days. I think we got Kristen on all of her days off.

AS: Yeah, she was actually doing SNL at the same time.
And she had to go to L.A. a few times to look at cuts for Bridesmaids. It was a crazy time for her. I remember looking at the schedule and thinking, Well, Chris needs to be back here, and Maya’s pregnant. It was tough to get the people we wanted all together at one time.

jennifer westfeldt 2

AS: Do you have a favorite memory of the shoot, or was it too crazy to even have that moment?
JW: I think on the first day of production, you look around at just the number of bodies who are all working for the same goal, and you just think, Oh my God, all of these people are assembled for this one purpose! The fact that everyone showed up was so surprising and sort of took my breath away a little bit. We had this horrible day when we had been shooting a moment with Kristen and Jon. It was freezing—rain and sleet. And there were these crew guys with rubber boots up past their knees with plastic wrap and tarps. They would just yell back at me and say, We’re doing great, we’re both fine! That people are willing to endure such inconveniences for your small project, I mean, they’re certainly not doing it to get rich.

AS: It really was all for one, one for all.
The moment where I was the most excited was watching you and Jon and everybody at that dinner table scene. It was exciting to end with that big group dynamic. It was the only time the eight of us were together.

AS: Well, I was very drunk the whole time.
You do your best work drunk, Adam, that’s the thing about you.

AS: It seems to me that the film does not adhere to any romantic comedy rules. Is that just your taste?
I don’t know if it’s conscious or not, but I’m definitely drawn to those mixed tones in terms of the romantic comedies I respond to, going as far back as the The Apartment, where you have this Hey, buddy boy! kind of energy, but at the same time, you have this woman who’s trying to kill herself. I think of As Good As It Gets or Rushmore as movies that are sort of romantic comedies but have their own tone. Not to say that I’ve created anything in the same league as these films, but it’s something I aspire to do. The third act of this is definitely more dramatic, which is by design. The tone in the movie reflects the premise of these selfish singles who think they’ve got it all figured it out, who think they can game the system.

AS: One of the things that I was moved by the first time I read this script was the understanding you have of how kids affect the lives of their parents. Did you get that from observing your friends who had kids, or from how you feel around kids?
A little of both. There’ve been a lot of moments where I’ve been close to kids and have seen these lives forming and developing before me, and how you and your wife have navigated as parents, which is so impressive and challenging. I remember having a dinner or coffee with your wife, Naomi, early on. Naomi is the most organized, talented, capable, and confident person I know. I remember her saying, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” I appreciated her candor in that moment.

AS: Our two characters make declarations at the beginning of the movie about how they’re going to do it “the right way.” I don’t want to spoil anything in this interview, but when they come out on the other side, the things that they were going to put up a good fight against are the things that they ultimately choose to embrace, because it fulfills them in ways they didn’t expect.
I think that is a threat I’ve seen all of my friends who have had kids make at some point. Whatever they thought it was going to be, they all say, no matter how hard it gets or how many sleepless nights or how many challenging moments, that they didn’t experience love until they experienced this kind of love. That’s such a powerful declaration. Jon and I can only imagine how that is because of the crazy, over-the-top love we have for our dogs.

AS: Well, we should also make it clear that this movie is not only for parents.
I hope not! It’s for Megan Fox fans, for one thing.

AS: By the way, you wrote me a scene in which I get to make out with Megan Fox.
JW: You’re welcome for that.

AS: And you wrote a scene where you make out with Ed Burns.
JW: Yep. You’re welcome, to me.

jennifer westfeldt 3

Justin Timberlake & Amy Poehler Stop By SNL, Sleigh Bells Perform

Maya Rudolph hosted SNL last night.  While she didn’t do her well-known impersonation of Whitney Houston, she did bring back Beyonce, Maya Angelou, and Bronx Beat.  Justin Timberlake stopped by for a hilarious take on Bon Iver, Amy Poehler proved why she is and always will be the best, and Sleigh Bells rocked "Come Back Kid" and "End of the Line."

Baby Blue Ivy was introduced to several celebs like Prince, played by Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig’s Taylor Swift, and more, with an assist from Timberlake as Bon Iver.  While the Carters don’t understand his music, White Butler gets down.

Rudolph is joined by Poehler to bring back Bronx Beat. They applaud J. Lo, Jenny Lopez, for hooking up with a young dancer and engage is some naughty back and forth with their camera men played by Timberlake and Andy Samberg.

Rudolph brought back her Maya Angelou impression with a spin on Betty White’s new prank show Off Their Rockers, called I Know Why the Caged Bird Laughs where she punks her esteemed colleagues like Morgan Freeman, Cornel West, and Steven King. “Hello, my name is Jonathan Franzen, I’d like to order 50 pizzas.”

Sleigh Bells “Comeback Kid”

Sleigh Bells “End of the Line”

Morning Links: Snookie and JWoww Get The Go From Jersey City, Earl Sweatshirt Returns

● You can retire your "FREE EARL" tees, because it seems like the Odd Future rapper has at last returned from his Samoan exile. [RapFix]

● Courtney Cox hasn’t had sex since she split with David Arquette a year ago, but not for lack of trying. "No guy’s asked me out," she says. "I’m not saying I’m not ready to have a make-out session, but it just makes me nervous. I don’t like to go out in general." [Us]

● Erykah Badu was photoed out in Hollywood wearing stilletoed ice skates, but alas, as TMZ reports, "the 40-year-old will not be competing in any fashion Olympics." [TMZ]

● Maya Rudolph will return to her old Saturday Night Live digs as host on February 18th. Sleigh Bells will join her as musical guests. [Huff Post]

● Jersey City has given Snooki and JWoww the go ahead to film their Jersey Shore spinoff, and filming is expected to begin later this month. Take that Hoboken. [NYP]

House is ending its run at the end of this eighth season. You will have to consult a real doctor about your medical quandaries from now on. [THR]

● Naomi Watts has been cast as Princess Diana in Caught in Flight, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s drama about the last few years of Di’s life. [Variety]