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A New Day is Dawning for 'SNL' and Several of its Stars
August 2, 2013  | By Ed Bark  | 2 comments

BEVERLY HILLS, CA — And the hits just keep on coming.

Seth Meyers will be leaving Saturday Night Live sometime in the middle of next season to devote full-time to being Jimmy Fallon's successor on NBC's Late Night.

Andy Samberg left SNL last year and is starring in Fox's new Brooklyn Nine-Nine comedy series this fall. Fellow SNL mainstay Kristen Wiig joined Samberg on the exit ramp. And the end of this season claimed another trio of stalwarts — Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen.

But it's always darkest before the dawning of a new era. And both Meyers and Samberg understandably are choosing to see it that way.

They made separate, perky appearances this week on the Television Critics Association "press tour," with Meyers promoting The Awesomes (right), a new animated series about misfit superheroes that became available August 1 on hulu.com. He voices the character of Dr. Awesome and also co-created the show.

"I mean, it's certainly a rebuilding effort," Meyers says of SNL, where he'll remain as anchor of "Weekend Update" for at least the first few months of the new season. "But I don't think it's any bigger than the ones that have happened historically. It's a really exciting time to be at the show and I'm glad I'm going back for the first half. The most fun I ever had at the show was the first year with Andy, Bill, Jason and Kristen."

SNL creator Lorne Michaels again will be taxed with picking up the pieces and then assembling a new mosaic. But his plate will be heaped as never before, with Michaels also in charge of Meyers' new show and Fallon's Tonight Show when he succeeds Jay Leno after the close of NBC's Winter Olympics coverage.

"I do believe that Lorne's main job is always going to be Saturday Night Live, especially with the transition," Meyers says after the formal interview session. "I think he'll be there more for guidance than anything else with our show. It's going to be right down the hall (at NBC's famed "30 Rock" building) so it'll be very easy for him to walk over and give his sage words of advice."

Meyers agrees that his steepest learning curve — as it is with all newbies to the late night talk realm — will be settling in as a solid but not stolid interviewer.

"I think it has to be because it's the only thing you don't learn before you do it," he says. "I would hope I'd be all right at it."

He's had some experience behind a desk on SNL's weekly "Update" segments. But Meyers' "interviews" mostly have been with various comic characters to whom he plays a straight man who often seems to be on the brink of cracking up.

"When I'm showing enjoyment, I'm not performing enjoyment," he says. "I'm genuinely enjoying it. There's always been the debate on whether you're supposed to play the deadpan straight man or have fun with it. I've enjoyed embracing the fun of it."

Meyers says he plans to do a traditional opening monologue while also incorporating some "Update" elements into his new late-nighter. But he won't try to measure up to Fallon's musical parodies because "no one's ever done it as well as he does."

"I don't know if we can reinvent the talk show. We're just going to try to do it very well," Meyers says.

Samberg is already a year removed from SNL, but "I miss it every day," he says. "The camaraderie, the intensity of coming up with something every week." He'd eagerly return to host "anytime they want me to."

The upcoming SNL makeover is good for both the show and its fans, Samberg says. "When there's been a large group that goes out and a large group that comes in, it tends to re-invent itself and find a new tone."

On Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine (left), slotted on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET this fall, Samberg stars as cocksure detective Jake Peralta, whose new stern boss is played by a relative stranger to comedy, Andre Braugher.

Samberg says he's been a "Braugher head" ever since seeing him in the feature film Glory. "He's so grounded and has so much gravitas. I feel like I'm kind of like a poodle yipping around a giant."

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is roughly reminiscent of ABC's old Police Squad! series in terms of  free-form associations, sight gags and occasional improv. But both the producers and Samberg say that's not the intent.

"Police Squad! had an almost surreal element about it," he says. "There's nothing happening on our show that is genuinely outside the realm of reality. But in terms of there being a police precinct and hoping there are things people will laugh at, there's a very strong parallel."

Samberg's personal best during the earlier formal Brooklyn Nine-Nine panel comes when he's asked," Do you remember when you were a little boy when you first realized you were funny?"

He turns that groaner into comedy gold.

"I'm told by my family that, as an infant, they were giving me a bath and I relieved myself in the tub. And my sisters started squealing and laughing, and I started laughing hysterically. And now my mom always goes, 'That's when we knew.' "

Read more by Ed Bark at unclebarky.com
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Not true, Warren. Both left at the end of the 2011-12 SNL season. Wiig's exit was very public on the last show. Samberg officially announced his departure a bit later and said that Wiig's leaving influenced his decision.
Aug 3, 2013   |  Reply
Nice story, but Wiig didn't join Samberg on the "exit ramp." She ducked out amongst great acclaim the year before.
Aug 3, 2013   |  Reply
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