UPDATED, 9:45 AM: Kerry Washington found herself in the middle of Saturday Night Live’s new-cast kerfuffle this morning when the NBC late-night show announced it had booked her to make her hosting debut on November 2. SNL may have first approached ABC’s Scandal star last season, and booked her weeks ago, but the timing of SNL‘s announcement raised eyebrows this morning, putting her at the epicenter of the latest media storm over SNL’s performers. In case you were off the grid yesterday, SNL cast member Kenan Thompson made some news when he told TV Guide that, yes, it’s the show’s sixth consecutive year without a black female cast member because, turns out, there are just no black female comics out there who are qualified for the gig. “It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson said. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” When asked how the show plans to handle any spoofs of black female celebrities (a FLOTUS gag, maybe?) Thompson responded, “I don’t know. We just haven’t done them. That’s what I’m saying. Maybe [Jay Pharoah] will do it or something, but even he doesn’t really want to do it.”
Maybe they can do a FLOTUS sketch on November 2!
Thompson’s interview managed the impossible, driving from the media’s mind all thought of Miley Cyrus’ turn as Twerking Michele Bachmann on SNL’s second episode this season, as their attention returned to the casting controversy that made headlines when the show’s newbies were unveiled. While there is some diversity among the newcomers (Noel Wells, for instance is half-Tunisian/Hispanic), critics complain they’re too white — and especially lacking in black comediennes, which, the press in numbers pointed out yesterday, continues SNL‘s dismal track record on that score. Washington, who plays a hot-shot Washington, D.C. “fixer” having an affair with POTUS on ABC’s Shonda Rhimes hit Scandal, is known to be pretty outspoken and may wind up weighing in on the subject. Or not. If she doesn’t, there’s always Eminem, who’s returning for his sixth appearance as SNL’s musical guest that night.
(Completely lost in this morning’s anouncement: SNL made it official Edward Norton would make his first appearance as host October 26, and Janelle Monáe will make her musical guest debut. They have our sympathy.)