News Nuggets: ‘SNL’ scores massive ratings with Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake

Former cast member Jimmy Fallon returns to “Saturday Night Live” and brings the show its highest ratings in almost two years. The episode this weekend averaged a 6.3 rating, just behind a January, 2012 show hosted by basketball legend Charles Barkley. Along with musical guest Justin Timberlake, the program included surprise appearances by Madonna, Paul McCartney, and Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees (review and clips here). Fallon hosted the Christmas show two years ago and won an Emmy as Best Comedy Guest Actor. The Wrap.

Glenn Whipp reports that “Dallas Buyers Club” is the first DVD mailer going to the entire 105,000 voting members of the Screen Actors Guild. The film received SAG Awards nods for actor Matthew McConaughey, supporting actor Jared Leto, and the ensemble. He states that the cast nomination “was a bit of a surprise and might indicate that the movie could still find its way into the back end of the best picture Oscar race.” L.A. Times.

Pete Hammond analyzes this year’s Oscar race for Best Animated Feature. He says “with a few exceptions, you can always count on Disney/Pixar to win or place.” Pixar only has the sequel “Monsters University” this time around. The parent company has blockbuster hit “Frozen” and the “beautifully made” film “The Wind Rises” from Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki. He also says “Despicable Me 2‘ might become Universal’s most successful movie ever with nearly a billion dollars worldwide. Deadline.

Kris Tapley interviews three-time Oscar champ Thelma Schoonmaker on her editing work with director Martin Scorsese in 19 films. Among other topics, they discuss the “unpredictable” Jack Nicholson in the Best Picture winner “The Departed,” tough test screenings, and their current project, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with frequent collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio. Hitfix.

The Writers Guild of America announces several of its honorary recipients for the WGA Awards on February 1. “The Simpsons” co-creator Sam Simon will receive the Valentine Davies Award for humanitarian work. “The Wire” creator David Simon picks up the Ian McClellan Award for career achievement. Longtime Focus Features chief James Shamus receives the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for honor and dignity. The late Thomas S. Cook (“The China Syndrome”) earns the Morgan Cox Award for service to the guild. WGA West. WGA East.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” remains in the box office top spot for a second week, even though it falls 57% to $31.5 million. Its worldwide receipts to date are $403.8 million. The Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” arrives in second place with $26.8 million for the weekend and $40 million for its first five days. Oscar contender “American Hustle,” with Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence, ties with “Frozen” in third position at $19.1 million. Hollywood Reporter.

Lindsey Bahr discusses and ranks the many cameos featured in “Anchorman 2.” She leads the list with her favorite combo: John C. Reilly and Paula Pell. Others in the film are Sacha Baron Cohen, Jim Carrey, Marion Cotillard, Drake, Kirsten Dunst, Tina Fey, Harrison Ford, Greg Kinnear, Liam Neeson, Amy Poehler, Will Smith, Vince Vaughn, Kanye West, Kristen Wiig, and Fred Willard included. Entertainment Weekly.

Nathaniel Rogers updates his Oscar predictions in all categories. His top 10 in the Best Picture category are (in order): “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity,” “Nebraska,” “Captain Phillips,” “American Hustle,” “The Butler,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Her,” and “Philomena.” Film Experience.

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