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John Bowman, Comedy Writer With a Knack for Crossing Over, Dies at 64



John Frederick Bowman was born on Sept. 28, 1957, in Milwaukee. His father, William, was a lawyer, and his mother, Loretta (Murphy) Bowman, was a homemaker.

White attending Harvard as an undergraduate, Mr. Bowman was an editor at The Harvard Lampoon. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1985 and became an executive at PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y., before deciding that what he really wanted to do was work in comedy.

At the time, his wife was writing for “Saturday Night Live.”

“I told Jim that my husband wasn’t happy at PepsiCo and he wanted to do this,” Ms. Gaughan Bowman said, referring to Jim Downey, the longtime “S.N.L.” head writer.

It was a big leap from a corporate job to the “S.N.L.” writers’ room, but Mr. Downey, a former president of The Lampoon, had mined the magazine for writers and was familiar with Mr. Bowman through his writing and through mutual friends. He asked Mr. Bowman to submit sketches; he was hired a year later.

“He had the best dry sense of humor of almost anyone I’ve ever worked with,” Mr. Downey said by phone. In his only season with the show, Mr. Bowman shared a 1989 Emmy Award with the rest of the writing staff.

He went on to be the showrunner in the mid-1990s for “Murphy Brown,” starring Candice Bergen.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Bowman is survived by his daughter, Courtney Bowman Brady; his sons, Nicholas, Alec, Jesse and John Jr.; a sister, Susan Bowman; and two brothers, William and James.

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Melanie Lynskey on That Chilling ‘Yellowjackets’ Finale




This interview contains major spoilers from the season finale of “Yellowjackets.”

Melanie Lynskey and I are going to talk about the tragic final twist in the “Yellowjackets” season finale in a moment. But first, I’m still reeling from the opening minutes.

Shauna, with an electric carving knife, in the bathtub?

“I know, right?” said Lynskey, 44, who plays the adult version of Shauna on Showtime’s buzzy psychological horror series “Yellowjackets,” about a high school girls soccer team that becomes stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash in 1996. We’ve seen just enough to know that their time in the woods didn’t end well, especially not for those who wound up literally butchered and eaten by the survivors. But it’s pretty clear that surviving — which is to say, having been reduced to murder and cannibalism — took a toll as well.

Case in point: the relative calm with which the adult Shauna, in the present day, dismembers her new boyfriend … to hide the evidence of having accidentally stabbed him to death with a different, nonelectric knife.

“There are moments with this character when we have to remember that she’s operating on Autopilot,” Lynskey said of Shauna. “There’s a problem, and she’s just like, OK, let me get through this part of the problem until another problem arises. She’s just trying to keep one foot in front of the other.”

Lynskey, a New Zealand actress whose Kiwi twang morphs into a flawless American accent on “Yellowjackets,” was calling from her daughter’s bedroom last week in Atlanta (“I’m hiding,” she explained), the city where she’s shooting the coming Hulu series “Candy.” In that series, she plays a woman on the other end of a blade: Betty Gore, a Wylie, Tex., woman who was murdered with an ax by her best friend, Candy Montgomery, in 1980.

“I like things with a little bit of darkness,” Lynskey said. “I like seeing how normal people can get to a desperate point.”

Lynskey’s high-profile roles in “Yellowjackets,” for which she earned a Critics Choice Award nomination, and in Adam McKay’s star-studded apocalyptic Netflix satire, “Don’t Look Up,” are the latest successes in a career that, in recent years, has included major roles in the HBO series “Togetherness” (2015-16); in Macon Blair’s 2017 critically beloved film, “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore”; and in the FX on Hulu historical series “Mrs. America” (2020).

But although the parts and the budgets keep getting bigger, the roles are still the kind she loves to play: real women, wrinkles, curves and all.

“A lot of women out there look like me,” Lynskey said of Shauna’s come-as-you-are appearance. “That was really important to me.”

In an interview, she discussed her favorite fan theories, Shauna’s uncanny resolve and the one thing she told the writers her character would never do. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

First things first: Where does Shauna find the resolve to chop up her lover’s body in a bathtub? We even see it when she’s in the wilderness in high school, volunteering to slit the deer’s throat.

I’m hoping that we meet members of her family so we can see why she is who she is. She seems like a completely self-sufficient person even before she’s stranded in this situation. I think there’s something inside her that’s a little bit scary even to her, but it feels like the most honest part of herself.

It’s not just young Shauna who butchers animals — as an adult, she guts a rabbit in the kitchen. Are you squeamish when it comes to blood?

I’m a vegetarian — I haven’t eaten meat since I was 10 years old. I didn’t want to have to do that with a real rabbit, so they made me this crazy prop rabbit — it was all magnets, sticking pieces together. It looked so real!

How else are you like and not like Shauna?

She’s able to switch into a cold, calculating veneer that I don’t know if I have — I guess I must, because it can come out of me. But she’s also someone who has a great capacity for love, so we’re alike in that way. She’s a lot more confident than I am, but she still has moments of self-doubt, which can lead her to make some of her biggest mistakes.

What about when it comes to survival skills?

If I’m going anywhere, I have to read every single TripAdvisor and Yelp review just to make sure the hotel is going to be as nice as I need it to be. I’m very particular, very princess-y. When I was a child, I went to nature camp for a few days, and the entire thing was torture. At the end of it, everyone in the class had to write a letter to the person who impressed them the most, and I got every letter because people were like: “You got through it. You cried the entire time, but somehow, you did it.”

Let’s talk about Jeff (Warren Kole). Why does Shauna stay with him?

Before the wilderness, there was chemistry, and they really liked each other, but Shauna felt like it was temporary. And then she came back from this experience with a ton of survivor’s guilt. But she’s not dealing with any of it — she’s just stuffing it all down, and she feels like the responsible thing to do is to now marry Jeff. She’s scared to look too closely at “Who is this person I’m with?” in case she has to do something difficult. It’s a similar situation with Adam [the former lover in the bathtub, played by Peter Gadiot], where she just kind of jumps into things. She’s so scared of finding out something she doesn’t want to know that she just lets things happen to her.

How much did you know about Shauna’s character going into the series?

The writers had told me what happened to Jackie [Ella Purnell], because when she started appearing in front of me in flashbacks, I said I needed to know specifics. And I knew the trajectory of the Adam relationship. I knew the trajectory of the Jeff relationship and that he was the blackmailer. I think sometimes writers are scared that if an actor has all the information, they’re going to give things away in their performance, but it’s helpful for me to have so I can do something layered that’s fun for people to go back and watch.

Such as?

When Jeff and I are driving back from brunch with Jackie’s parents [in Episode 6], we’re talking about Jackie, and I say, “Do you wish you had ended up with her?” And he says, “No, I was just the high school boyfriend.” We’d never had a conversation about that, and that’s something he knew Jackie had said because he read Shauna’s journals. And so I was able to react to that moment like, That’s a bit interesting. I don’t know why he said that or how he knows that.

To clarify, Jackie is for sure dead — she’s not pulling a Van?

As far as I know. I don’t see how she comes back from [freezing to death]. [Laughs.] And I think Ella’s contract was always just a year.

A slew of fan theories about Shauna have cropped up on social media. Do you have any favorites?

It was so interesting to me that nobody was like, “What if Adam just likes her?” Part of it is that it’s a mystery show, and he’s a suspicious character. And part of it is that it’s an unconventional relationship where he’s more conventionally attractive than me, he’s younger than me, he’s thinner than me. So it’s very hard for people to accept that that might just be a relationship that they’re witnessing. And then there were some theories that were just so nuts — so many people were like, “He’s Shauna’s wilderness baby.” I wish I could remember all the crazy ones. “He’s Jackie” was a funny one.

What kind of input do you have into your character?

It’s not often, but there are times when I read something and am just like, “This doesn’t feel real to me.” When I was about to go on a date with Adam, they had me stealing a pair of my daughter’s underwear — like a thong — to wear. And I just was like, “Guys, first of all, as a mother, no.” That’s so gross. I know that Shauna doesn’t have boundaries, but that’s, like, a step too far. And, realistically, they wouldn’t fit me. There’s no woman in the world that’s going to watch that scene and be like, “I believe that she’s comfortably wearing those underpants.” But they’re very good about listening to me!

Have they told you anything about Season 2?

I know they haven’t even gotten into the writers’ room yet, so I want to give them a minute. But I definitely want to ask questions. I really think I probably drive them crazy.

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On ‘S.N.L.,’ Biden Urges Covid-Weary Nation to Stop Seeing ‘Spider-Man’




Spider-Man just finished saving the very fabric of reality, but to hear President Biden tell it — at least on “Saturday Night Live” — the wall-crawler is the one to blame for the continuing pandemic.

To kick off the first new “S.N.L.” of 2022, James Austin Johnson returned in his recurring role as Biden for a news conference in which he told the nation that “there’s one simple thing you can do to make this whole virus go away: Stop seeing ‘Spider-Man.’”

Addressing the White House press corps in the show’s opening sketch, Johnson said: “This virus has disrupted our lives. It’s canceled holidays, weddings, quinceañeras, gender-reveal parties, wildfires that started as gender-reveal parties.”

He went on to say: “Now, think about it. When did ‘Spider-Man’ come out? Dec. 17. When did every single person get Omicron? The week after Dec. 17.”

The last time “S.N.L.” attempted a live episode, on Dec. 18, it was significantly disrupted by the pandemic. Hours before airtime, NBC announced that because of Covid concerns, the show would not use a live audience; the broadcast was missing most of the cast members, had no musical guest and consisted mostly of pretaped segments and sketches from past episodes.

“S.N.L.” was not spared the intrusion of the coronavirus this week. On Wednesday, the rapper Roddy Ricch, who was originally announced as the musical guest, said on his Instagram account that he would be unable to perform because of “recent COVID exposure on my team and to keep everyone safe.” Instead, the pop band Bleachers took his place.

In the Biden sketch, Johnson explained that he was not asking people to avoid the movies altogether. “I said, stop seeing ‘Spider-Man,’” he declared in reference to “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which has shattered Covid-era box-office records.

“See anything else,” he continued. “I saw the first half-hour of ‘House of Gucci.’ That’s more than enough movie for anyone.”

Questioned about the lack of available Covid testing, Johnson’s Biden answered, “You want to know if you have Covid? Look at your hand. Is it holding a ticket that says you recently went to see ‘Spider-Man’? If so, you have Covid.”

As Johnson started to expound on the existence of the multiverse, he was visited by a shirtless, white-haired Pete Davidson, who explained that he was Joe Biden “from the real universe,” and that this incarnation of reality had been created “as a joke, starting in 2016 when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.”

When Johnson asked him if he was the president in this real world, Davidson answered: “Of course not. Did you really think you would lose four times and then finally win when you were 78?”

When you’ve got an “S.N.L.” episode hosted by Ariana DeBose, a star of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake and a newly-minted Golden Globe winner, you know you’re going to have a couple of sketches that pay affectionate tribute to musical theater.

The first of the night was DeBose’s opening monologue, during which she was joined by Kate McKinnon, who professed that “West Side Story” was her favorite musical.

“Did you like the movie?” DeBose asked her. “I didn’t see it,” McKinnon replied. “I don’t leave the house because of Covid and also because I don’t leave the house.” They gamely sang a medley of several “West Side Story” numbers together, including “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty,” though McKinnon sat out the mambo dance break: “They know I dance,” she said.

Later in the night, the two re-teamed for a “Sound of Music” parody in which McKinnon delivered a deft Julie Andrews impression. DeBose played another wayward woman from Maria’s convent who tries to teach a group of children to sing, with an updated version of “Do-Re-Mi” that’s unexpectedly heavy on references to Queen Latifah. Eat your heart out, Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Earlier this week, when NBC’s Peacock streaming service dropped the trailer for “Bel-Air,” a gritty, dramatic retelling of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” some viewers wondered if it was an “S.N.L.” sketch.

It wasn’t, but that didn’t stop “S.N.L.” from going forward with this satirical preview for an unnecessarily harsh reboot of another 90s-era sitcom, “Family Matters.” In this incarnation, Carl Winslow (Kenan Thompson) is a sadistic Chicago cop and the lovably nerdy Steve Urkel (Chris Redd) now has an abusive, drunken mom and a violent temper. You’ll never hear the catchphrase “Did I do that?” in quite the same way again.

Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che continued to riff on President Biden’s stalled agenda.

Jost began:

Just like everybody else, President Biden’s New Year’s resolutions fell apart in the third week of January. The Supreme Court struck down his vaccine mandate. The voting rights bill got blocked. And his approval rating is so low, it’s gone into power-save mode. But I will point out, there was another president who had a disastrous start to his first term, yet he became an inspiration to generations of Republicans, even to this day. [The screen shows a picture of Ronald Reagan.] I’m talking of course about Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. [The picture changes to one of Davis.]

“And there are still statues of him in 10 different states,” Jost continued:

Which, come to think of it, probably explains why the voting rights stuff isn’t working out. The bottom line is, I think Biden just needs more time. He might be more of an acquired taste. Unfortunately, most Americans recently lost their sense of taste.

Che picked up on the Biden thread:

President Biden gave a speech in Atlanta where he called on the Senate to pass two voting rights bills, saying, “I am tired of being quiet.” And to prove it, he took a 20-minute standing nap.

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Rosa Lee Hawkins, Youngest Member of the Dixie Cups, Dies at 76




Rosa Lee Hawkins, the youngest member of the musical trio the Dixie Cups, whose hit single “Chapel of Love” reached No. 1 on the Billboard 100 in 1964, died on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. She was 76.

The cause was internal bleeding resulting from complications during surgery at Tampa General Hospital, said her sister Barbara Ann Hawkins, who was also a member of the group, along with Joan Marie Johnson, who died in 2016 at 72.

The Dixie Cups epitomized the harmonizing sound of the 1960s girl group. “Chapel of Love,” their debut single and most well-known song, quickly replaced the Beatles’ “Love Me Do” as No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1964. It was later heard on the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 Vietnam War film, “Full Metal Jacket.”

Rosa Lee Hawkins was born on Oct. 23, 1945, in New Orleans to Hartzell Hawkins, a self-employed carpenter, and Lucille (Merette) Hawkins, a state worker who registered voters.

While in high school in 1963, Barbara brought Rosa along to sing with her and Joan Marie in a high school talent show. The trio initially called themselves the Meltones, only to discover later that the name had already been taken. Since they were from the land of Dixie, and “cups are cute,” Barbara said in an interview, they came up with the name Dixie Cups (playing on the name of the popular paper cup).

Joan later discovered that the Hawkins sisters were actually her cousins.

While they did not win the talent show, a talent scout in the audience, impressed by their rich harmonies, invited the group, along with other Louisiana musicians, to perform for Red Bird Records. The Dixie Cups sang “Iko Iko,” a song that was traditionally sung during Mardi Gras and that was a favorite of the Hawkins sisters’ grandmother. They signed a recording contract soon after.

The Dixie Cups received two Gold Records, for “Chapel of Love” and another hit, “People Say.” They were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

The group recorded a total of four albums, their last in 2011. Ms. Johnson, ill with sickle-cell anemia and weary from touring, left the group and was replaced by a number of singers through the years. The Hawkins sisters remained, though, and kept singing just as they did in high school, with harmonies as vibrant as ever.

“When the audience smiled and applauded, it made her happy because she knew she put a smile on their faces, if only for that time,” Barbara said of her younger sister.

In addition to Barbara, Ms. Hawkins is survived by another sister, Shirley; a son, Eric Blanc; and two grandchildren.

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