Summer update: 'SNL's' oldest bit returns to prime time

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Andrew Warren / TV Media
Michael Che and Colin Jost host "Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update"

Michael Che and Colin Jost host "Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update"

Summer update: It may be on summer break right now, but with one of its most talked about seasons in years behind it, "Saturday Night Live" isn't taking the season off. The sketch comedy show's longest-running bit hits TV screens for a four-week prime-time run starting Thursday, Aug. 10, on NBC.

The half-hour "Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update" reunites the hosts from the shorter "SNL" version, with anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che sitting behind the news desk and poking fun at the week's headlines. Other "SNL" cast members are also due to make appearances, lending their own brands of humor to the "newscast."

This isn't the first time that Weekend Update has been spun off into its own series. Its first appearance as a prime-time special was in the autumn of 2008 under the name "Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday," and after a three-episode run it was renewed for a second mini-season the following year. It later returned during 2012's election for two episodes of electoral joshing.

So why has Weekend Update been spun off into its own series yet again? Probably because the last season of "Saturday Night Live" brought in the highest ratings the show has seen in years, a feat often attributed to the show's sharp spoofs of the current political situation in Washington. Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, backed that up in a statement announcing the summer series: "'SNL' is having its best season in a quarter of a century — how many shows can say that?! — so we didn't want them to take the summer off," he said in the statement.

Weekend Update has been with "SNL" since its very first episode way back in 1975 -- the only still-surviving sketch to have that honor. Its hosts may have changed over the years, but its popularity has always remained strong -- strong enough to warrant its own prime-time series. "Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update" premieres Thursday, Aug. 10 on NBC.


A new possession: "The Exorcist" is expanding its cast. The Fox series, which is slated to return for a second season Friday, Sept. 29, has added a versatile actor to its already impressive roster.

John Cho has joined the supernatural drama, bringing his diverse acting range to the critically loved series. Cho has been a movie star for years, starring as Sulu in "Star Trek" (2009) and as Harold in "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" (2004) and their respective sequels. He's no stranger to television either, having starred in the short-lived 2014 ABC sitcom "Selfie," NBC's "Go On" and the sci-fi drama "FlashForward."

Cho won't be the only new face on screen when "The Exorcist" returns. With the first season's plot more or less wrapped up, most of its characters -- and thus, actors -- will not be in season 2. Geena Davis ("Thelma & Louise," 1991), Hannah Kasulka ("The Fosters"), Alan Ruck ("Spin City") and Brianne Howey ("Scream Queens") have all moved on.

In addition to Cho, Brianna Hildebrand ("Deadpool," 2016) has boarded the cast. Alfonso Herrera ("Sense8"), Ben Daniels ("House of Cards") and Kurt Egyiawan ("Skyfall," 2012) are the sole returning series regulars.

"The Exorcist" serves as a sequel to the 1973 film of the same name. The first season dealt with a family suffering through a demonic influence in their home, and the responses of three priests (Herrera, Daniels and Egyiawan) trying to deal with it. The new season moves on from that now-resolved story (hence the casting changes), with Cho playing a former child psychologist whose foster child becomes targeted by something very evil.

"The Exorcist" returns to Fox for a second season this fall.


Dangerous weather: Something really needs to be done about the weather these days. Four summers ago, in the windy year of 2013, the world was subjected to its first freak tornado with toothy predators caught up in it, and they've just been getting more and more intense every summer since.

That's right, the Sharknado franchise is back with a fifth movie. "Sharknado 5: Global Swarming" splashes onto Syfy Sunday, Aug. 6, with a promise to "Make America bait again," a riff on President Trump's campaign slogan.

Tara Reid ("American Pie," 1999) and Ian Ziering ("Beverly Hills, 90210") return as husband-and-wife duo April and Fin, roles they've starred in since the franchise's very first film. As usual for the Sharknado films, they're joined by a number of stars in their battle against the fiendish meteorological phenomenon, including '80s icon Fabio ("Zoolander"), Charo ("The Love Boat"), Gilbert Gottfried ("Aladdin," 1992) and Chris Kattan ("Undercover Brother," 2002) in significant roles.

Clay Aiken ("American Idol"), Olivia Newton-John ("Grease," 1978), Tony Hawk ("Jackass: The Movie," 2002), Margaret Cho ("30 Rock") and Poison frontman Bret Michaels all appear in cameos, while "Today" hosts Al Roker, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb also make an appearance.

Take cover: the toothy twisters are back on Syfy with "Sharknado 5: Global Swarming," premiering Sunday, Aug. 6.