Viola Davis to play Michelle Obama in proposed series

LOS ANGELES — Viola Davis is set to portray Michelle Obama in a Showtime series under development about America’s first ladies.

Davis also is an executive producer on the project, which Showtime said Monday will “peel back the curtain” on the lives of presidential spouses.

The first season will focus on Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Obama.

Showtime said it’s committed to three scripts for the proposed series. There is no air date since the series has yet to be ordered.

Former President Barack Obama and his wife launched their own production company in 2018, and have announced deals with Netflix and Spotify.

Eddie Murphy to host ‘SNL’ for first time in 35 years

NEW YORK — Eddie Murphy will return to a place that helped launch his career — “Saturday Night Live.”

The comedian will be the host of the sketch comedy show on Dec. 21, marking the former cast member’s first hosting appearance since 1984.

Murphy was a cast member from 1980 to 1984, starring in such landmark sketches as “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” and as Gumby, Buckwheat and Stevie Wonder.

He went on to star in numerous films, including “The Nutty Professor,” Bowfinger,” ‘’Beverly Hills Cop” and “Coming to America.”

“Saturday Night Live,” celebrating its 45th season, returns Sept. 28 with host Woody Harrelson and Billie Eilish as the musical guest.

Others planned to grace the show this season include Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Taylor Swift, David Harbour, Camila Cabello and Kristen Stewart.

Comedian Leslie Jones exiting ‘SNL’ for other projects

LOS ANGELES — “Saturday Night Live” cast member Leslie Jones is leaving the NBC show after five seasons, while Kate McKinnon is sticking around.

The exit comes as Jones is branching out into other projects.

Earlier this month, Jones announced she’s doing a Netflix stand-up special. In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show, the “Ghostbusters” star said it’s great to be an actress but that she’s really a “hardcore” stand-up comedian.

She hasn’t abandoned acting: Jones is part of the voice cast of the recently released “The Angry Birds Movie 2” and reportedly has been in discussions to join Eddie Murphy’s announced “Coming to America” movie sequel.

Jones’ tenure on “SNL” was marked by an exuberant style and portrayal of celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, whom Jones has called an inspiration.

She started with “SNL” as a writer, hired after the show was criticized in 2013 for a lack of diversity, particularly the absence of an African-American woman among 16 regular or featured players.

Jones was promoted to cast member early in the 2014-15 season and received three Emmy nominations for her work.

Missy Elliott gets a special compliment for VMA gig

NEW YORK — After celebrating her two-decade-plus career at the MTV Video Music Awards with a performance featuring a slew of her hits, Missy Elliott knew she did a great job when the first text she received after the performance was from another musical icon and longtime friend: Janet Jackson.

“She was like, ‘You shut that [expletive] down,’” Elliott said, laughing in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, a day after the VMAs. “And just to know that Janet even said that word was amazing. And I was like, ‘OK, I must have done good for her to use that [word].’”

Elliott, who has collaborated musically with Jackson in the past, received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award on Monday night for the eccentric and vibrant music videos that helped establish her as a trailblazer on the music scene.

— Compiled from Tribune News Services

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