Is Rosie O’Donnell about to break the internet?

Is Rosie O’Donnell about to break the internet with SNL impression?

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Rosie O’Donnell was a regular on US talk show The View

Rumours that comedian Rosie O’Donnell is due to play White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live have sent social media into overdrive.

Currently experiencing its highest ratings in 22 years, what’s behind SNL’s resurgence in popularity?

Since debuting in 1975, Saturday Night Live has been a bulwark of the US TV landscape. As America’s longest-running comedy-sketch series, generations have grown up with its oft-emulated brand of slapstick and satire.

But as celebrity, politics and modern living changed over the years, so too have the targets of SNL’s jokes. With the arrival of Donald Trump’s White House administration, SNL has been gifted a comedy cash-cow.

Alec Baldwin’s devastating portrayal of Trump triumphed with viewers when it debuted in the run-up to last year’s US Presidential Election and has since become a staple feature of the series.

Last week, Melissa McCarthy’s ultra-caustic turn as White House press secretary Sean Spicer went viral on YouTube.

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Rosie O’Donnell / Twitter

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O’Donnell was seen dressed as Steve Bannon in a Twitter profile picture

On social media, fans of the show are raving about its persistent jabs at the new presidency.

“This is hilarious. Comedians have never had it so easy with this admin,” said Youtube user mimi k.

“Trump made SNL ‘GREAT’ again!” exclaimed Steven L.

“I don’t care who you voted for, that was funny as hell,” added Joe Momma.

‘Boring and unfunny’

It remains to be seen whether SNL’s Trump bump is due to new viewers from across the political spectrum, or merely re-engaged liberals who had fallen out of love with the show in recent years.

One viewer who has been less than impressed by the cutting caricatures is the president himself.

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President Trump is no fan of Alec Baldwin’s impression

“Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!” Trump tweeted three weeks before voting day last year.

“I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show – nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?” he tweeted again less than two weeks after winning the presidency.

“@NBCNews is bad but Saturday Night Live is the worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!” he wrote five days before inauguration.

‘Part of American culture’

In this extraordinary time of western political upheaval, that the most powerful man in the world should feel compelled to repeatedly condemn his own parody has become an added draw for SNL fans.

After last week’s stinging routine from Melissa McCarthy, Spicer told Fox News he thought her impression of him was “cute” and “part of American culture.” Trump, however, stayed uncharacteristically silent.

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NBC/Getty Images

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Melissa McCarthy recently played Sean Spicer in a skit

Fans began to wonder whether SNL had genuinely hit a nerve. Politico reported that behind closed doors Trump was furious his administration was being made to “look weak”.

In particular, it is thought Trump took exception to his staffer being spoofed by a female comedian.

This tension between SNL and Trump has created genuine suspense for fans of the series – eager to find out which member of the White House administration will be in the firing line next – simply because they know it riles the president.

‘Ten-year feud’

As SNL has forged its recent reputation for Trump baiting, fans began submitting their own suggestions on how best to lampoon the leader of the free world.

Enter Rosie O’Donnell. The actress and comedian has never previously appeared as part of the Saturday Night Live cast, but has been embroiled in a very public 10-year long feud with Donald Trump.

Frequently referred to in the US tabloids as each other’s nemesis, the spat dates back to 2006 when O’Donnell criticised Trump’s Miss USA beauty pageant on talk show The View.

She has since described Trump as a “snake-oil salesman” who should “sit and spin”, while Trump in turn has called O’Donnell a “fat pig” and “a real loser”.

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Steve Bannon is currently portrayed on the sketch show as the Grim Reaper

After McCarthy’s outing as Spicer last week, Twitter user @calvininsf tweeted at O’Donnell to ask whether she was “willing to take one for the team?”

O’Donnell replied to say: “I am here to serve – Alec has Trump – Melissa has Spice – I would need a few days to prepare – so if called – I will be ready.”

The discord between O’Donnell and Trump has provided a ripe opportunity for SNL’s sketch writers. They are in the unique position of knowing that the target of their jokes is watching, but remain tight-lipped about whether they will take up O’Donnell on her offer.

Seemingly keen, O’Donnell has changed her Twitter profile picture to a superimposed image of her face on the body of the White House’s Steve Bannon.

A caricature of Bannon has already appeared on SNL, played by regular cast member Mike Day dressed as the Grim Reaper.

Having O’Donnell portray Bannon would doubtless infuriate the Trump administration further – especially in light of recent press speculation about the amount of power Bannon wields in the White House.

‘I can see Russia from my house!’

SNL has got its teeth back after an arguably lacklustre and directionless few years.

During the last White House administration, President Obama was parodied more than 50 times by SNL cast members Fred Armisen and Jay Pharoah. But those impersonations never quite resonated with viewers in the same way Baldwin’s Trump and McCarthy’s Spicer have.

The last time SNL so overtly contributed to America’s national dialogue was Tina Fey’s impression of former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin.

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Sarah Palin is among SNL’s previous satirical targets

Palin’s misquote “I can see Russia from my house!”, which was said to have derailed her 2008 vice presidential campaign, was in fact a line from Fey’s SNL skit.

Whether SNL has the potential to shape our perception of Donald Trump in the way it did Palin remains to be seen.

SNL’s current growing ratings can in part be attributed to its biting humour and supremely talented cast – but just as important as the jokes is how Trump reacts to them.

Alec Baldwin is again set to host the show this weekend.

If O’Donnell makes an appearance, then it will no doubt help boost those record viewing figures further. Not just because she is funny, but because Saturday Night Live strikes at the very heart of American politics.

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EXCLUSIVE: Dirty Dancing writer ‘ready for sequel’

Dirty Dancing’s writer is ‘ready’ to write a sequel

Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in Dirty DancingImage copyright

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Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze co-starred in the original Dirty Dancing

We last saw them having the time of their lives in Dirty Dancing, 1987’s sleeper hit about finding love, coming of age and learning to mambo.

Now, 30 years on, the writer of that film says she’s ready to bring Baby and Johnny back to the big screen.

“I am now thinking I might be ready to do a sequel,” Eleanor Bergstein told the BBC.

She added her characters were “very particular people who find a very particular reality with each other, and I do want to explore that now”.

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Eleanor Bergstein

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Eleanor Bergstein based the film on her own youth in the Catskills

Set in 1963, Dirty Dancing told of a teenager, Frances “Baby” Houseman, who has an affair with dance instructor Johnny Castle while staying at a Catskill Mountains resort.

The film starred Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze and won an Oscar for the song (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.

Audiences fell in love with the movie’s characters, music and its iconic dance routines, including the famous “lift”.

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The film’s climactic lift has become an iconic movie moment

In an interview to be aired on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, Bergstein pointed out that her film also included an illegal abortion that has become all too topical in the wake of US President Trump’s election.

“All these things have come around again,” she told Samira Ahmed. “All these battles we thought in some way had been won… it’s come back now.”

Bergstein also said that were Baby around today, she would be out marching for women’s rights and Black Lives Matter.

“The thing that is so moving to me is that in cities all across America… everyone instinctively dropped their lives and went out on the streets.

“That’s what Baby would be doing now.”

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Bergstein says Baby would have been at the Women’s March had she been real

Swayze, who died in 2009, made a cameo appearance as a dance teacher in 2004 prequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

A TV movie remake of the original film, starring Abigail Breslin and Nicole Scherzinger, is set to air later this year.

Listen to the full interview on Monday’s Front Row at 19:15 GMT.

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Fifty Shades Darker gets critical spanking

Fifty Shades Darker gets critical spanking

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Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson star in Fifty Shades Darker

The reviews of Fifty Shades Darker are in and err, well… oh dear.

While not everyone hated the sequel to 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey, the vast majority of critics were not impressed.

The New York Times said the film was “Fifty Shades Darker and only half as watchable” as its predecessor.

“What an incredibly, indelibly idiotic movie,” is how Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers summed it up in his 0.5-star review.

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“Fifty Shades Darker is an ordeal to watch not because of its gothic eroticism but because of its utter blandness,” wrote The Independent‘s Geoffrey Macnab.

“When the inevitable spanking scene takes place, it is tongue in cheek (although not quite literally so).”

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“Buff, bland, bonking machines are possessed of prodigious libido but bereft of personality,” The Daily Mirror‘s Chris Hunneysett wrote.

“If you want to watch a movie about a billionaire playboy with a penchant for darkness, inflicting violence and dressing up in masks, you’re far better off seeing The Lego Batman Movie.”

But Variety liked it a little more, writing: “For all its structural and psychological deficiencies, it’s hard not to enjoy Fifty Shades Darker on its own lusciously limited terms.”

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“It sure ain’t boring,” observed Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, who also gave the film a more positive review.

“Best of all, like the first film, this one has a killer soundtrack that makes Fifty Shades Darker sound just as good as it looks.”

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“There’s one significant problem with both Fifty Shades movies that’s impossible to ignore: [Jamie] Dornan is just a dud,” said Time‘s Stephanie Zacharek.

But, she adds: “It’s all fantasy, so what’s the harm? There isn’t any. And if millions of girls or guys go out to see Fifty Shades Darker with their friends for a giggle or two, then the world is a happier place.”

Other publications who didn’t quite consider the film a masterpiece included The Guardian, The Telegraph and The New Yorker.

To be fair – we’re fairly confident everyone involved in making the film wasn’t pinning their hopes on critical praise.

Like the first film in the franchise, Fifty Shades Darker will still likely be a huge box office success.

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Dr Who: Danny Dyer wants the job

The EastEnders’ actor reckons he’d be the perfect replacement for Peter Capaldi, who leaves later this year.

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Raymond Briggs: Lifetime award for The Snowman creator

Author and illustrator Raymond Brigg is recognised with a lifetime achievement award by BookTrust.

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And the unsexiest genre of music is…

Musicals come last in sexy music poll

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La La Land? More Na Na Land according to this survey

Want to get lucky this Valentine’s Day? Then you had better leave show tunes off your shuffle queue.

According to a new poll, songs from musicals are the least likely to get played in the British bedroom.

Musicals came dead last in a list of the 19 genres of music that couples listen to as the lights go down.

Even chamber music, thrash metal and hymns ranked higher in a survey of more than 2,000 people conducted by Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

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Musicals like Chicago and Cabaret are not sexy – apparently

So what musical genre was judged to have the most sex appeal? Well, it’s no surprise to find it’s good ol’ R&B.

Sixteen percent of respondents chose it as their favourite bedroom music – proving once and for all that there is indeed nothing wrong with a little bump and grind.

Twelve percent chose chart music, while just over one in 10 chose classic pop from the 1980s and ’90s. Heaven, it seems, really is a place on earth.

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Even metal bands like Metallica rank higher

The survey found that 43% of people play music while making love – though the percentage skews much higher with younger people.

Sixty percent of 18-24 year olds said they liked listening to music while getting intimate, as opposed to 38% of over-55s.

It also makes a difference whether you’ve tied the knot – or not.

Sixty-two percent of unmarried couples like to have something playing in the background, compared with 28% of married ones.

The most popular music for the bedroom
1. R&B 16%
2. Chart Music (Top 40) 12%
3. Classic Pop (’80s/’90s) 11%
4. Dance/electro 9%
5. Indie 8%
6. Rock (not inc progressive rock) 8%
7. Jazz 5%
8. Classical (not inc chamber/piano music) 5%
9. Blues 4%
10. Opera 4%
11. Progressive Rock 4%
12. Metal (e.g. thrash) 4%
13. Religious/Spiritual (e.g. hymns) 3%
14. Meditation 3%
15. Country 3%
16. Chamber/Piano music 2%
17. Folk 2%
18. World 2%
19. Musicals 1%

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Prince’s music is coming to streaming services this Sunday

After months of rumour, it’s been confirmed Prince’s music will become available to stream this weekend.

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George and Amal Clooney expecting twins

Matt Damon says he “almost started crying” when the actor told him the news.

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Abba in Birmingham

More than 44,000 people wanted tickets to the 2,397-seat venue opposite the city’s station.

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Has Tom Hiddleston damaged his brand?

Has Tom Hiddleston damaged his brand?

Tom Hiddleston

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Hiddleston was nominated for the Bafta Rising Star award in 2011

The last few months haven’t been too easy for Tom Hiddleston.

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In September, he and former girlfriend Taylor Swift broke up after three months together amid accusations their relationship was a publicity stunt.

Then, in January, he apologised for an “inelegantly expressed” winner’s speech at the Golden Globes in which he referred to aid workers in South Sudan “binge-watching” The Night Manager.

This time last year, the actor was riding the crest of a wave.

After starring in hugely successful BBC drama The Night Manager as well as the big-screen adaption of JG Ballard’s High-Rise, he was a hot favourite to be the next James Bond.

But have his off-screen actions since done damage to his brand?

“Some of the recent headlines have been unhelpful,” admits Mark Borkowski, a strategic PR consultant.

“There are events that happen and they’re not thought-through properly, and the nature of being caught up with Taylor Swift’s gang and not thinking it through strategically has undone him.

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Swift and Hiddleston dated for three months last year

“Sometimes people don’t recognise the power of their brand, and often you can’t conduct yourself in the way you think you can.”

But Steven Gaydos, vice-president and executive editor of Variety, thinks Hiddleston is still a hot property, despite his recent PR mishaps.

“I don’t think anything he’s done to date has put any serious dent into his career,” he told the BBC.

“He’s a fantastic actor doing fantastic work. He has a fan-base and he’s delivering the goods.

“These are just missteps – somebody doing something that causes chatter. In this case Tom Hiddleston made a speech and people thought it was silly, or he dated a woman and people thought it was a little bogus.

“He’s not going to be hauled in front of the courts for any of this.”

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Hiddleston starred in BBC One’s adaption of The Night Manager

Nonetheless, it’s fair to say “Hiddle-Swift” brought Tom a great deal of negative attention.

Some fans thought the couple were being suspiciously open about their relationship, leading to accusations that all was not what it seemed.

Hiddleston has now defended his relationship with Swift in an interview with GQ, saying: “Of course it was real.”

He also said the ‘I ♥ T.S. [Taylor Swift]’ tank top he was photographed wearing was “a joke”, explaining he was lent it by a friend to protect a graze from the sun.

The actor said the pictures of him wearing the shirt were taken “without consent or permission”, and that fans and the media had “no context”.

“I was just surprised that it got so much attention,” he said. “The tank top became an emblem of this thing.”

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The series was directed by Susanne Bier (right) and adapted from a John le Carre novel

So is this latest interview simply damage limitation? “Absolutely,” says Mark Borkowski.

“I don’t think Tom Hiddleston knew at the time just how big a brand he was. Now he does know that and has to think carefully.

“This GQ interview is an example of putting the record straight and trying to get a narrative together to try and recover from some poorly judged moments.”

Borkowski adds: “There’s a beautiful naivety about Tom Hiddleston that is projected through this interview where he’s trying to talk directly to his fans. This is material you put there for them.”

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Hiddleston’s acceptance speech at last month’s Golden Globes was criticised

Hiddleston himself admits in the interview: “A relationship in the limelight takes work. And it’s not just the limelight. It’s everything else.

“And I’m still trying to work out a way of having a personal life and protecting it, but also without hiding.”

Gaydos has a lot of sympathy for the 36-year-old on the Taylor Swift front.

“Imagine you just met someone and you’re having a relationship and the whole world is watching. It’s like snakes all around you,” he says.

“I’d hate to to live in a fish bowl and have every move analysed, with people saying you’re a fraud, your relationship is a fraud, everything you’re doing is insincere and fake.”

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Hiddleston said his relationship with Taylor Swift wasn’t a publicity stunt

Hiddleston has two films coming out later this year – Thor: Ragnarok and Kong: Skull Island. Gaydos says the film studios won’t be particularly worried about Hiddleston’s off-screen actions.

“They’re worrying about the tracking. If the trailer goes out for Kong and the response isn’t strong or the awareness of the movie isn’t high, that’s what they’re really concerned about,” he says.

“Tom has not ventured anywhere near the space where we’ve seen stars screw up their careers and really damage their star wattage.”

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Hiddleston will be seen in the new Kong and Thor films later this year

Borkowski adds: “Anything is recoverable in this day and age.

“Last week we were hearing about the death of the David Beckham brand, but we’d forgotten about it by Thursday.

“Things move so quickly now, so it is always about recovery.”

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