Michelle Williams, Whitney Cummings Join 'Busy Tonight' for Emotional, Expletive-Filled Finale

Linda Cardellini, Jennifer Carpenter and Christa Miller also joined the actress and social-media influencer to do a "toast or roast" and discuss their canceled series.
Jordin Althaus/E! Entertainment
'Busy Tonight'

Busy Philipps bid adieu to her short-lived E! late-night show on Thursday with a little help from a few friends: Michelle Williams, Linda Cardellini, Jennifer Carpenter, Christa Miller and Whitney Cummings, the latter of whom threw some shade on E! for cancelling the show.

"You had a talk show for a minute, would you ever do it again?" Philipps asked Cummings after she arrived on set, minutes into the Busy Tonight finale.

"Not on E!" Cummings replied.

"Now that's what friends are for," Williams joked.

The final episode kicked off on a high-energy note, with the host telling listeners, "Listen, you at home, you better be f—ing standing up there, this is it!" The actress and influencer dispensed with her usual musings on culture to open the show, but offered a three-sentence summation of the day: "Don't' f— with Ellen Pompeo or Kelly Ripa. Hey Gucci, f—ing stop. And Keanu, you can get it forever," she said.

Before introducing her guests, she noted that most of them over the last half-year were friends: "So many people have shown up for me, and there were some people who didn't, and they know who the f— they are. And I will never forget," she said. While introducing Cardellini, she joked that the actress is "a real overnight success, 22 years later." (Cardellini is currently starring in Netflix's Dead to Me, Avengers: Endgame and The Curse of La Llorona.) The pair started crying when Philipps noted her friend always remembers to text her on Mother's Day and other holidays.

Michelle Williams ("the love of my life") flew to L.A. to be on Philipps' last show, the host revealed while introducing the Fosse/Verdon actress. When Carpenter arrived, Philipps asked what was going on with her show (NBC's The Enemy Within): "We're on what they call a bubble," Carpenter replied. "I don't know, I'm just giving it up to God. Isn't that what they say?"

Christa Miller, who had just played a guest role on Whiskey Cavalier last night, noted that show had just been canceled. "Wait, was I on it?" Cummings, whose past series include Whitney and 2 Broke Girls, joked in response.

The group subsequently played a round of "toast or roast," starting with Miller,  who toasted and started crying ("You know I don't cry!" she said). Carpenter, who also toasted, gave Philipps a gift of headphones because she is "such a good listener." Cardellini also praised Philipps: "I've always been blown away by your talent, your spirit and your courage," she said.

During her turn, Williams ripped up a card she had prepared and toasted Philipps: "So when I was leaving to come here, tonight is actually opening night of my daughter's school play, and I said, 'Listen, Aunt Biz needs me, do you mind if I come to the beginning and end?'" Her daughter, she said, replied, "of course" and then asked, "Why are you guys best friends because you're so different?" Williams replied to Philipps, "You're just there ... The truth is that you show up for all of us all of the time."

After that emotional interlude, Cummings went straight for a roast: "For the past few months, it has been an honor to see you doing what you do best, talking and crying," she joked. She then recalled when Philipps told her she looked like her ex-boyfriend Chris.

Before the show's second commercial break, Philipps brought out all the women who have worked on Busy Tonight, which filled up the set. "So many women!" she yelled. Subsequently, she provided a few lessons she's learned from the show: "We have learned that you should meet your heroes, that competition kills creativity, ... that a career pivot is always an option for everyone," Philipps said with tears in her eyes. "Finally, the most important lesson that we learned here is that it is a marathon, not a sprint, and the real trick is figuring out what the f— the marathon is that you're actually running. And I have to tell you something, guys we haven't even broken a sweat yet."

For her last goodbye song, she sang, "This is our last goodbye song, parting is such sweet sorrow, but follow me on Instagram and I'll see your a—es tomorrow. Good night, you guys. I really love you, I do."

The Busy Tonight finale came one day after Philipps prompted thousands of women to share their abortion stories in response to restrictive legislation being signed into law in Alabama and Georgia. Her hashtag #YouKnowMe elicited responses from director Miranda July, actors Amber Tamblyn, Ashley Judd, Tess Holliday, Cynthia Nixon and Alia Shawkat and writer Jessica Valenti. 

Though Philipps originally shared her story of getting an abortion at age 15 in her book This Will Only Hurt a Little, she told to a wider audience on her show last week after Georgia's governor signed into law the so-called "fetal heartbeat bill," which outlaws abortions once a "fetal heartbeat" is detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Philipps' hashtag followed Alabama's governor signing into law a stricter bill, which bans virtually all abortions, including those following rape or incest. The only exception is when a pregnancy puts a woman's life in danger.

Philipps first announced the show was being cancelled in an Instagram post on May 6, where she said she was "very proud of the show." Busy Tonight, which launched October 26 and ran four nights a week, featured Philipps weighing in on pop culture and interviewing celebrities including Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Kim Kardashian West, Chelsea Handler and Julia Roberts. According to Nielsen ratings, the show's largely female audience had a median age of 43.