Happy Friday: NBC launched Weekend Update (and Bill Hader's The Mooch) into a crowded late-night field. Plus: Michael Moore hits Broadway, HBO suffers a setback in a lawsuit over a John Oliver segment and The Walking Dead creator is moving from AMC to Amazon. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman
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Last night, Michael Che and Colin Jost hosted NBC's Weekend Update debut, a summer half-hour showcase that feels predictably padded, critic Daniel Fienberg writes in his review:
NBC is following up a resurgent season of Saturday Night Live with several weeks of what is being branded Weekend Update Summer Edition is a bit like like a restaurant celebrating the success of its tableside guacamole by serving patrons big bowls of cilantro. Some people like cilantro and think it adds a lot to dishes. Some people have a visceral hatred for cilantro and think it tastes like soap. But nobody came to the restaurant just for the cilantro.
I'm sure there are people whose favorite part of SNL is Weekend Update and who don't watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Daily Show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The Jim Jefferies Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers or any of the other myriad late-night offerings that have already made the exact same jokes about Donald Trump goading North Korea into nuclear war, the new conservative vendetta against the Statue of Liberty and more. And this show is for those people!
+ Early take: A.V. Club: "But while the jokes were fine, they weren’t especially ambitious, and that’s a problem if Update -and, by extension, SNL - is going to keep up."
Elsewhere in TV...
► Big deal: Walking Dead creator moves from AMC to Amazon. Robert Kirkman and his Skybound Entertainment company have exited their overall deal with longtime home AMC in favor of what is said to be a sizable two-year overall deal with Amazon Studios.
► ABC Studios inks deal with Ryan Seacrest. The returning host of American Idol has inked a multiyear deal with the network's studio counterpart for his Ryan Seacrest Productions' scripted division to develop projects.
► NBC is rebooting The Munsters again. Seth Meyers and Jill Kargman are developing a new take on the sitcom, which originally ran on CBS from 1964-1966. NBC previously tried to reboot The Munsters with Bryan Fuller in 2012.
► Lifetime orders Jenji Kohan's American Princess. The network handed out a straight-to-series order for the drama, from the Orange Is the New Black creator that follows a socialite who runs off to join a Renaissance Faire.
► Ryan Murphy's Katrina gets source material, cast overhaul. The American Crime Story season, with Sarah Paulson at the top of the call sheet, will now be based on Five Days at Memorial, by Sheri Frank.
► HBO orders specials based on 2 Dope Queens podcast. The four hourlong specials from Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson will debut in 2018. Queens is a weekly stand-up and storytelling podcast.
► CNN cuts loose Jeffrey Lord after Nazi tweet. The network formally ended the tenure of the pro-Trump political commentator after he tweeted "Sieg heil!" to the president of the left-leaning Media Matters for America.
^The evolution of autism on screen. Netflix’s Atypical (debuting tonight) and ABC’s The Good Doctor (Sept. 25) both are hoping to capture the human side of a disorder as multi-faceted portrayals of TV characters with autism are on the rise.
► Netflix renews GLOW for season 2. The female-led wrestling series (aka The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) will return for another 10 episodes. The critically praised comedy has earned rave reviews so far.
► Fox renews Love Connection for season 2. The renewal, which follows one for Thursday reality partner Beat Shazam, includes a return for host Andy Cohen. The revival has given some summer scheduling stability to Fox.
► USA renews Queen of the South for season 3. The cabler has reupped the cartel drama for 2018. The Alice Braga starrer ranks as Thursday's top cable series among the adults 18-49 demographic when factoring in three days of DVR.
► NBC's Will and Grace revival snags Ben Platt. The Dear Evan Hansen star is set to guest-star on an upcoming episode of the revival. Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes broke shared a photo of the core ensemble.
► The CW's Black Lightning adds key villain. Rapper Marvin "Krondon" Jones III has boarded the midseason drama as Tobias Whale. The series stars Cress Williams as the title superhero.
► Netflix's The Crown sets season 2 return. When the royal drama returns Dec. 8, Matthew Goode and Michael C. Hall will join the cast as the series heads into the '60s. Watch the teaser.
Also: Why a Hollywood billboard features 43,412 nude scenes. Seth Abramovitch writes: Mr Skin, the internet repository of film and TV nakedness, celebrates its 18th birthday with screenshots of stars plastered high above Hollywood Boulevard.
Last night, Michael Moore made his Broadway debut with this one-man show mixing politics and autobiography, critic Frank Scheck writes in his review:
It seemed easy to predict what Michael Moore’s one-man Broadway show would be like — a two-hour political rally in which the left-wing provocateur/filmmaker would lecture the audience about the evils of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. That prediction turns out to be wrong.
The Terms of My Surrender reveals Moore to be a warmly funny and engaging raconteur, presiding over an evening of surprising emotional depths. Don’t misunderstand me. Trump supporters should probably stay away, not that they were likely to buy tickets anyway. From the moment the baseball-cap wearing Moore steps onstage and forlornly asks, “How the f—k did this happen?” to pained laughter from the audience, it’s clear that he knows he’s in friendly territory.
He describes the evening as a “12-step meeting for the Democratic Party,” and he’s not wrong. For liberals attempting to maintain their equilibrium during an administration that seems hellbent on assaulting their values at every turn, the evening essentially qualifies as therapy.
Meanwhile, in film...
► Lionsgate's Chaos Walking adds Nick Jonas. The actor will star with Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland in Doug Liman's adaptation of the best-selling YA novel by Patrick Ness. Lionsgate has set the film for release on March 1, 2019.
► Seth Gordon to direct racial injustice story Tulia. The Baywatch helmer will direct a film based on the 1999 case that saw dozens of men, most of them African-American, arrested for a drug scandal based on the word of an unreliable cop.
► Appalachian opioid addiction drama rounds out cast. A.J. Cook, Agnes Bruckner and Eden Brolin are set to star in Back Fork, an indie drama from actor turned director Josh Stewart. Production began Thursday in Back Fork, West Virginia.
► Vince Vaughn's Brawl in Cell Block 99 gets distributor. RLJE Films has acquired North American rights to the thriller, starring Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Marc Blucas, Udo Kier and Don Johnson. It will premiere at the Venice film fest.
► GKIDS acquires The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales. The film is co-directed by Benjamin Renner, who co-directed the Oscar nominated Ernest & Celestine; and Patrick Imbert, animation director for that film. A fall qualifying run is planned for this year's Oscars.
^The Hitman's Bodyguard, reviewed. Ryan Reynolds tries to convince Samuel L. Jackson he needs protection in Patrick Hughes' late-summer action-comedy. The takeaway: "Charismatic stars saddled with seen-it-all-before material."
► The Nut Job 2, reviewed. Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Maya Rudolph are joined by Jackie Chan for another chaotic animated romp in the park. The takeaway: "Still preferable to singing chipmunks."
► Marvel's Avengers 4 starts production. The Russo Bros. shared an image featuring a glove with four fingers extended. The title of the film hasn't been revealed because its a spoiler.
► DC's Aquaman "complicated" to shoot. Director James Wan reveals details of his "technically challenging" movie (because of the water scenes) and how he ended up casting Dolph Lundgren.
► Lucasfilm's Han Solo movie set images shown. As he has done since taking the reins of the Star Wars stand-alone in June, Ron Howard shared short videos from what appear to be a junkyard: "Where old Speeders go to die."
In THR, Esq: HBO suffers setback in coal baron's lawsuit over John Oliver segment ... Judge orders N.Y. Times writer to testify in Sarah Palin lawsuit ... Viacom must face ex-BET exec's defamation and discrimination suit.
Cinespia's often sold-out Hollywood Forever Cemetery screenings have cemented themselves as a seasonal institution in the Southland drawing scores of fans and A-listers (Brie Larson: "my favorite summer event"). Patrick Shanley looks behind the scenes.
What else we're reading...
— "A missing tycoon’s links to China’s troubled Dalian Wanda." Michael Forsythe reports: "Associates of Xiao Jianhua, who disappeared from Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel in January, helped Dalian Wanda with a share sale and privatization." [The New York Times]
— "50-year-old superheroes present new challenges." Jane Carlson writes: "As action stars lead franchises into their second decades, top trainers sweat to keep actors ripped ... now that they 'can’t take the physical abuse.'" [Pret-a-Reporter]
— "Theaters have a bigger problem than this summer of duds." Erich Schwartzel writes: "A decline in attendance puts theater chains in a weak position ahead of the industry’s anticipated upheaval." [The Wall Street Journal]
— "The millennial aesthetic of Viceland." Amanda Petrusich notes: "The new millennial network’s lineup suggests an intolerance for self-importance, particularly when practiced by people in positions of influence." [The New Yorker]
— "Why Hollywood needs another Bonnie and Clyde moment." Danny Leigh asks: "Fifty years after Faye Dunaway picked up her pearl-handled Smith and Wesson, does Hollywood need bringing back from the dead once more?" [The Guardian]
What else we're seeing...
+ Bill Hader is The Mooch on Weekend Update [SNL]
+ "John Lithgow thought he wasn't nominated for an Emmy." [Jimmy Kimmel Live]
+ "Stephen doesn't want the Earth to blow up." [Late Show]
+ "Anthony Anderson lost $300 in a golf game with Barack Obama." [Tonight Show]
Today's birthdays: Chris Hemsworth, 34, Chris Messina, 43, Anna Gunn, 49, Viola Davis, 52, Rob Minkoff, 55, Steve Wozniak, 67, Ian McDiarmid, 73.