TV and Movies

Chicago Fire: [Spoiler] Suffers an Unexpected and Devastating Loss

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Wednesday’s Chicago Fire. Proceed at your own risk!

The circle of life hit Chicago Fire in a heartbreaking way during Wednesday’s episode, when Sylvie Brett’s biological mom Julie (played by Kelly Deadmon) died during childbirth.

Earlier in the episode, Brett told her birth mom that she would like to be involved in the baby’s life (and hers) even after Julie’s husband arrived in town. Julie reassured her daughter that, of course, they were planning to celebrate their big move to Chicago with her. After all, the change in living location was fueled by a desire to be closer to Brett, who was also a handy medical resource when Julie began having contractions again. But these ones weren’t false labor.

Brett took Julie to the hospital, where there were complications, resulting in an emergency C-section. Sadly, the doctor later came out and informed Brett that Julie died on the table after losing too much blood. A shell-shocked Brett asked about the baby, who was fine. Casey, whom Brett called for support, urged her to go see the infant. As Brett cradled her new half-sibling, she began to break down, tears streaming down her face.

The devastating loss will no doubt have a big effect on Brett, who had just recently connected with her birth mom. And in the April 8 episode, the paramedic “is faced with a monumental decision,” per the official synopsis.

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The ‘Asinine’ Reason Steve Carell Was Forced To Leave ‘The Office’

It’s the “that’s what she said” (and he said) to end them all.

NBC’s “The Office” was never the same following the departure of Steve Carell’s Michael Scott after the seventh season, as the show shuffled through various ways to fill the void left by the self-proclaimed World’s Best Boss. While it’s been widely speculated that the actor left because his career outside the show was blowing up, a new book seems to dispel that notion.

As reported by Collider, Andy Greene’s “The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s,” which consists of more than 80 interviews with those who brought the show to life, reveals Carell’s departure was more forced than of his own accord.

The cold open for this story starts in April 2010. During a chat with BBC, the interviewer noted Carell’s contract only ran for one more season. In response, the actor said that the upcoming year would “probably” be his last.

But apparently that wasn’t really the case, the show’s boom operator/sound mixer Brian Wittle revealed. Carell had just mentioned leaving the show off the cuff, “almost unconsciously,” explained Wittle in the book. It was NBC’s response, or lack thereof, that made it real:

He was kind of thinking out loud, but he did it in an interview in public and it created news. Then what he said was the people connected to the show had no reaction to it. They didn’t call and say, “What? You wanna leave?” He said he didn’t get any kind of response from them. When he realized he didn’t get any kind of response from them, he thought, “Oh, maybe they don’t really care if I leave. Maybe I should go do other things.” So I think that made it easier, because when the news broke that he was considering it, the people that are in charge of keeping him there didn’t make a big effort to do so until afterward.

The story seems to be backed up by numerous others.

Hairstylist Kim Ferry said that Carell “didn’t want to leave the show,” and told the network he would sign on for “another couple of years,” but the network didn’t give him an offer:

He was willing to and his agent was willing to. But for some reason, they didn’t contact him. I don’t know if it was a game of chicken or what … He planned on staying on the show. He told his manager and his manager contacted them and said he’s willing to sign another contract for a couple years. So all of that was willing and ready and, on their side, honest. And the deadline came for when they were supposed to give him an offer and it passed and they didn’t make him an offer. So his agent was like, “Well, I guess they don’t want to renew you for some reason.” Which was insane to me. And to him, I think.

Producer Randy Cordray added that he believed Carell would’ve stayed on if NBC handled things differently. Casting director Allison Jones also recalled that Carell wanted to do another season.

“NBC, for whatever reason, wouldn’t make a deal with him … Somebody didn’t pay him enough. It was absolutely asinine. I don’t know what else to say about that. Just asinine,” Jones said.

Collider noted the network was going through a regime change during this time, with Jeff Zucker leaving and Bob Greenblatt on his way in. Cordray said he believed Greenblatt wasn’t a big fan of “The Office.” For his part, Greenblatt said he thought Carell was on his way out already.

“I couldn’t do anything about that since it preceded me,” Greenblatt said.

Regardless, Carell left the show in an emotional episode, and ratings for “The Office” left with him. The show continued for only two more seasons, and — according to Dwight himself, Rainn Wilson — got “wonky” without Carell. 

Leave it to Dwight to remain loyal even after all these years.

Reps for NBC and Carell didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.


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TV and Movies

TV Ratings: NCIS Surges to Tie Season High, FBIs Draw Largest Audiences Ever

In the latest TV ratings, CBS’ NCIS drew 13.1 million total viewers and a 1.3 demo rating, surging 21 and 30 percent from its last fresh episode to mark its largest audience in well over a year while matching its season high in the demo (last set on Oct. 1).

Leading out of that, FBI (10.8 mil/1.1) rose 30 and 38 percent with its half of the crossover (aka its penultimate Season 2 episode), marking its largest audience ever and its best demo number since November 2018. Most Wanted (9.5 mil/1.0) in turn was up 48 and 25 percent to easily hit season highs.


NBC | Ellen’s Game of Games (6.3 mil/1.4) ticked up. This Is Us (7.9 mil/1.7, TVLine reader grade “A”) delivered a best-since-premiere audience and its highest rating since Oct. 8. Thursday-bound Council of Dads (4 mil/0.7, TVLine reader grade “B”) delivered lower retention out of This Is Us (50 and 41 percent) than The Village did a year ago (63 and 47 percent).

FOX | The Resident (4.4 mil/0.8) was steady (with what has turned out to be its penultimate Season 3 episode), as was Empire (2.8 mil/0.7).

ABC | The Conners (6.4 mil/1.1) dipped, while Bless This Mess (4.1 mil/0.7), mixed-ish (3 mil/2.6), black-ish (2.6 mil/0.6) and For Life (2.4 mil/0.6) were all steady.

The Live+Same Day numbers reported in our daily-ish ratings column do not reflect a show’s overall performance, given the increases in delayed playback via DVR and streaming platforms. These Live+Same Day numbers instead are used to illustrate any trends or high/low superlatives. Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin.

Want scoop on any of the above shows? Email [email protected] and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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TV and Movies

Superstore: Jason Ritter Clocks In as Jonah's 'Scumbag' Brother — First Look

Jason Ritter is returning to NBC by way of Superstore — and TVLine has your exclusive first look.

The Parenthood alum — who most recently recurred on ABC’s Million Little Things and co-stars on Netflix’s Raising Dion — makes his debut in Season 5’s penultimate episode as Jonah’s brother. Described as “a bit arrogant,” the character of Josh Simms “likes to put Jonah down and pick on him, even now that they’re adults.” This ultimately rubs Amy the wrong way when she and Jonah attend a lunch with Jonah’s parents, Josh, and Josh’s girlfriend Kelci (played by Florida Girls‘ Patty Guggenheim).

“I was really, really bugging casting a bit when one of Jonah’s brothers was going to come in, and we got my dream pick, which was Jason Ritter,” series star Ben Feldman tells TVLine. “Jason kind of plays a scumbag, which is not something you get to see him do often. He’s sort of one of America’s sweethearts, and he killed it. He’s so funny.”

Ritter’s Josh is the latest member of the extended Superstore family to be introduced in Season 5. Back in January, audiences met Dina’s absentee father, Howard Fox, played by Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris. (Ritter’s casting was first reported by Give Me My Remote.)

Elsewhere in Ritter’s episode, titled “Customer Safari” and airing on Thursday, April 2 (NBC, 8/7c), “Garrett and the other employees create a game around the store’s weird customers, with a suspicious Glenn hot on their tails.”

Scroll down for first-look photos from Jonah’s contentious family luncheon, then hit the comments with your reactions to Ritter’s casting.

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TV and Movies

The Blacklist Creator Explains the Midseason Premiere's Glaring Absence, Teases a Major Secret for [Spoiler]

After a three-month hiatus, The Blacklist returned on Friday with an eventful hour for Raymond Reddington. But if you expected the show to check in with his ex-lover-turned-enemy Katarina Rostova, you were left hanging a little while longer.

In December’s midseason finale, Red witnessed Katarina’s murder at the hands of two anonymous men. But her death was a ruse, and when Katarina revealed to Liz that she’d faked her own demise (like mother, like daughter!), the women formed an alliance. Though Red is still in the dark about all of this, Friday’s episode made only a few fleeting mentions of Katarina, and she didn’t make an appearance in the hour, which focused on Red’s pursuit of an art forger.

“In Red’s mind, Katarina Rostova is dead. She’s gone, and so is the threat that she posed to Liz and the task force. Putting ourselves in his frame of mind, it felt like the right approach to come back with the show feeling a bit lighter and more fun,” series creator Jon Bokenkamp tells TVLine, when asked about the decision to make the spring premiere Katarina-free.

Bokenkamp says he realizes The Blacklist “can be a very dark show at times,” adding that Red and the home audience were both “ready for a much-needed break. He’s ready to have some fun. And when Red has fun, we all have fun.”

That’s not to say Katarina was completely ignored during the episode. In fact, early in the show’s return, Liz revealed to Ressler that her mother is actually alive, in an effort to curb Ressler’s guilt about his involvement with Katarina’s death. But Bokenkamp assures us that Liz won’t regret spilling the beans to her colleague — at least for the time being.

“There’s always the question of who knows what, but we’re playing fair with the audience that this is Liz and Ressler’s secret,” the EP clarifies. “She wanted to put his guilt to rest because she cares about him. So, does anyone else know? Let’s just say, not yet.”

And, as viewers will come to realize in upcoming episodes, Liz’s secret isn’t the only one that Ressler is keeping.

“One of the biggest secrets is being kept by Agent Ressler,” Bokenkamp teases. “We tend to think of Ressler as a very by-the-book agent — a real Boy Scout whose career is built upon integrity. But I think the audience is going to be really surprised when they peel back the curtain and take a peek into his past.”

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The Voice Recap: Did Mother Know Best for the 'Category-Breaker' That Blake Shelton Thought Was 'an Old Lady'?

As The Voice’s Season 18 Blind Auditions continued Monday, Mike Jerel got John Legend and Nick Jonas to turn their chairs almost as fast as Kelly Clarkson does whenever she recognizes a song. By the time the 31-year-old Georgian was done with his soulful rendition of “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” all four coaches were facing him, and a battle royal was about to break out to see which of them was going to successfully recruit the showman, who went so far as to call his mother on stage to help make the momentous decision. Blake Shelton probably took himself out of the running when he admitted that he’d wondered whether the singer was “an old lady.” Mom threw her support behind John, who’d called her son not a mere lane-filler but a category-breaker. But who did Mike pick? And was his performance all that? Read on, and we’ll review not only his tryout but those of all the wannabes advancing to the Battles.

Anaya Cheyenne (Team Kelly), “I’ll Never Love Again” — Grade: A- | A YouTuber from Atlanta, this 16-year-old reminded me immediately of Kennedy Holmes — she was so poised. But could she sing like the Season 15 standout? Wow, could she. This kid poured so much heartache into her Lady Gaga cover, I think she not only broke my heart, she sprained my liver at the same time. She was nothing short of magnificent. Raw but controlled, and as emotionally open as I am after a fourth glass of wine. As Nick put it, she gave the coaches, only two of whom turned for her, “all the feels.”

Mandi Thomas (Team Kelly), “Time to Say Goodbye” — Grade: A | From the first note, this classically-trained opera singer sounded beautiful; Nick said afterwards that she’d even given him goosebumps. But I suspected she wouldn’t get a chair turn — opera on The Voice? I just didn’t see it happening, despite how fantastic Mandi was. However, she got a chair turn — Kelly’s. Half in jest, I’d’ve thought, she’d said previously that she wanted an opera singer on the show. And now that she had one, she was as certain that Mandi’s talents could be applied to other genres as I was eager to hear “Since You Been Gone” done opera style.

Jacob Miller (Team Nick), “The Times They Are A-Changin’” — Grade: C | Before we got a look at this baby-faced ragtime enthusiast, I thought that his Dylan impersonation was spot-on… well, except for the fact that he enunciated better than Bob and sounded sweeter, too. As his performance went on, it remained perfectly pleasant but lacked dynamism. Not a whole lotta range, either. John called Jacob’s audition “powerful” but, tellingly, he hadn’t turned his chair. I have a hunch that the singer Nick all but adopted into the Jonas Brothers wouldn’t make it past the Battles.

Jon Mullins (Team Blake), “Don’t Give Up on Me” — Grade: C+ | Ahead of Jon’s Blind, we heard about how this song encapsulated the tumultuous last couple of years of his and his wife’s lives (as she recovered from a face-plant onto a concrete floor). Initially, he sounded good — generic but radio-friendly. Then, he really went for it and, I thought, went a little too far; he ended up coming off desperate rather than passionate. So a little restraint might go a long way toward helping the contestant who was so excited about getting a throne turn from “the king.”

Jacob Daniel Murphy (Team Blake), “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” — Grade: C | Once I got past how much this 27-year-old’s outfit reminded me of a colorful sailor’s, I thought he sounded like the kind of singer you’d expect to hear on a cruise ship: competent but unexceptional. He can sing, sure. But there’s no heft to it, no “there” there. It was the sort of performance you’d forget before you’d come back from the fridge after your next snack break. I could only imagine that Blake had picked Jacob up as cannon fodder for the Battles.

Zan Fiskum (Team Legend), “Light On” — Grade: A | This Seattle indie-popster, who insists on calling her RV a “tiny house,” got a chair turn from Nick almost immediately with her airy vocal — and it was irresistible, a siren song whispered as much as sung. As she went on, though, she revealed that she was hiding powerful gales underneath her enormous hat. When she unleashed the full force of her voice, it could knock you down. It certainly knocked Kelly out; she marveled that Zan’s “tone almost has reverb.” So she didn’t even need vibrato.

Roderick Chambers (Team Nick), “Back at One” — Grade: B- | “In entertainment years, I’m a dinosaur,” laughed this almost-40-year-old charmer, who guessed that he had been “the cute one” in his old R&B group. On stage, he ably demonstrated that he has pipes — at times, you could imagine that you’d heard him on the radio in the 1990s. But his one-chair-turn audition wasn’t terribly memorable or terribly polished, and there was one note in there that made my ear feel the same way it does when I stick a Q-Tip in too far. Overall, not bad, but not great.

Jules (Team Kelly), “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” — Grade: B+ | After gaining enough confidence to sing without hiding under a towel (as she did in her debut at her sister’s birthday party), this 15-year-old apparently developed a helluva voice. I couldn’t believe that she didn’t get any chair turns till near the end of her performance. Her lower register was so cool, it felt like a dare that she’d taken; elsewhere, she sang with a sassy twang that should’ve made her a no-brainer for Blake from the beginning. I just wish I didn’t get this vague whiff of phoniness from her (which may well have been misperception, anyway).

Michael Williams (Team Nick), “You Say” — Grade: D | This 18-year-old, stricken with ulcerative colitis, was so unimpressive in his truncated Blind that I’d scarcely taken any notes on him when surprise! Nick turned his chair for him. Even in praising the teenage dream’s performance, Kelly could only say that his falsetto would be great — when it was perfected (and it was not!). If Nick thought that he could coach Michael to excellence, he had his work cut out for him.

Mike Jerel (Team Legend), “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” — Grade: A+ | First of all, thank you, Mike. He included in his audition so many runs that I’m pretty sure just listening counted as exercise. (No more jogs this week!) Second of all, damn. The four-chair-turner included all those runs without sacrificing passion; in fact, he was so into his performance, he called to mind Season 12 winner Chris Blue and even Alicia Keys. (Mike would do a kickass version of the former coach’s “Fallin’,” no?) Every time I was sure he couldn’t possibly go bigger or more intense, there he went, getting bigger and more intense. As Kelly put it, “You just set the room on fire.” I thought, no question about it, Mom was right — he should’ve joined Team Legend — and, halo shining, Mike agreed.

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‘Night School’ Pilot at NBC Casts Josh Segarra in Kevin Hart Role

Josh Segarra has been cast in one of the lead roles in NBC’s upcoming pilot based on the film “Night School.”

Segarra will play Teddy Walker, described as a charming salesman, in the multi-camera comedy pilot. The role was played in the film by Kevin Hart. Segarra joins previously announced cast member Shanola Hampton, who will play the character that was played by Tiffany Haddish in the film version.

Like the film, “Night School” follows a a unique mix of adults at a night school GED prep class who unexpectedly bond over their shared experience and find themselves helping each other both inside and outside of the classroom.

Segarra’s recent credits include shows like “Arrow,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “The Moodys,” “AJ and the Queen,” “The Other Two,” “Chicago P.D.,” and “Sirens.” He has also appeared in films like Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” and “Overboard” and lent his voice to the hit video game “Red Dead Redemption.”

He is repped by A3 Artists Agency, ATA Management, and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.

Kevin Hart — who starred in, co-wrote and produced the film — will executive produce the pilot along with Will Packer, who was also a producer on the film, and Malcolm D. Lee, who directed. Chris Moynihan will write and executive produce the pilot. Universal Television will serve as the studio, with Universal Pictures having produced the film. Hart will produce under his Hartbeat Productions banner while Packer will do so via Will Packer Media and Moynihan via Bicycle Path Productions. Bryan Smiley and Tiffany Brown will oversee for HartBeat while Sheila Ducksworth will executive produce for Will Packer Media.

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Jon Seda to Star in NBC Drama Pilot ‘La Brea’

Jon Seda could well be starring in yet another NBC series.

The actor, who is best known for his recent role in NBC’s “Chicago” franchise, has been cast alongside Michael Raymond-James and Natalie Zea in “La Brea,” a drama pilot which hails from writer and executive producer David Appelbaum.

In the prospective series, when a massive sinkhole mysteriously opens in Los Angeles, it tears a family in half, separating mother and son from father and daughter. When part of the family find themselves in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers, they must work to survive and uncover the mystery of where they are and if there is a way back home.

Seda will play the role of Dr. Benjamin Glass, a former Navy Seal who knows how to take charge. His other credits include the 1997 pic “Selena,” and the HBO series “The Pacific.”

“La Brea” is executive produced by Applebaum, Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott, and Rachel Kaplan of Keshet Studios will executive produce as will Ken Woodruff. Universal Television is producing the pilot.

The network’s drama pilot slate consists of five other titles, including “Echo,” which just recently cast “Veep” alum Reid Scott, “Ordinary Joe,” which just added two more players, and “Langdon,” in which Ashley Zukerman will star as a younger version of the famed Tom Hanks symbologist.

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TV and Movies

‘Saturday Night Live’ Ratings Slip With Host John Mulaney

Saturday Night Live alum John Mulaney returned as host for the third time last night. The show, featuring musical guest David Byrne and appearances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Larry David and SNL alums Jason Sudeikis and Rachel Dratch, drew a 4.0 Live+Same Day household rating in the 44 local metered markets and a 1.9 adults 18-49 rating in the 25 markets with local people meters. That was down from SNL‘s last original (4.3, 1.9) hosted by RuPaul with musical guest Justin Bieber.

The Feb. 29 show’s demo rating was in line with most SNL episodes this season, while the the household delivery was on the lower side.

The fall finale/holiday episode of SNL on December 21 continues to hold the season highs ratings benchmark with the return of Eddie Murphy as host (6.7 in metered-market HH and a 3.4 in 18-49). Featuring Lizzo as musical guest, that episode has grown to a 6.88 rating in 18-49 and 20.8 million viewers overall with delayed viewing on digital and linear platforms to date.

Versus primetime programming on the Big 4 networks last night, SNL is easily the No. 1 show of the night in both metered-market households and in 18-49 in the local people meters.

The current Season 45 of Saturday Night Live has accumulated 1.26 billion YouTube views to date, up +58% versus the same timeframe last season.

Besides the coronavirus-themed cold open and the Airport Sushi musical skit featuring Gyllenhaal, the most popular videos from last night on YouTube as of Sunday morning are the opening segment of Weekend Update dissecting President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus, Mulaney’s opening monologue and Byrne’s energetic performance of Once in a Lifetime:


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Saturday Night Live Takes on Coronavirus Crisis in Cold Open

Saturday Night Live took aim at the global coronavirus outbreak in its cold open this weekend, lampooning President Trump’s decision to put VP Mike Pence in charge of overseeing the swelling crisis “even though,” as Beck Bennett’s Pence admitted at the top of the skit, “I don’t believe in science.” He then added, “But I am prepared for the challenge — we have assembled a very experienced team of some of the best people left in government.”

After bringing out Kenan Thompson’s Ben Carson, who warned everyone that the outbreak is “gonna be bad,” Pence segued into a press conference that ended up being hijacked by the remaining Democratic presidential hopefuls. All the usual faces were present, including Fred Armisen’s Michael Bloomberg, Rachel Dratch’s Amy Klobuchar, Larry David’s Bernie Sanders, Kate McKinnon’s Elizabeth Warren), but in a twist the episode’s host John Mulaney took on the role of VP Joe Biden (vs. regular portrayer Jason Sudeikis).

“Joe Biden? You look… different,” Pence remarked, to which Biden replied, “Yes, the surgery is starting to settle.”

Mike Pence addresses Coronavirus…
until the Democratic candidates interrupt. #SNL

— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) March 1, 2020

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