0 reads
Leave a comment

FILE – In this Aug. 11. 2016 file photo, United States’ Simone Biles performs on the vault during the artistic gymnastics women’s individual all-around final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Biles goes for her third gold in Rio when she competes in the women’s vault final Sunday, Aug. 14. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — NBC’s first recipient of “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones’ burst of energy is late-night, or early-morning, host Ryan Seacrest.

Hurriedly brought to Rio de Janeiro after her fan-girl social media posts about the games became an Internet hit, Jones is bringing the same enthusiasm in person. She jumps up and down in excitement meeting Shaun White, bursts into tears seeing Simone Biles and trades Olympic pins with Kerri Walsh Jennings. She’s excited to meet people who are probably just as thrilled to meet her.

Seacrest interviewed her early Sunday for his show, which begins every Olympic day at 12:30 a.m.

Leslie Jones poses at the "Top Five" premiere at the Princess of Wales Theatre during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP, File)

Leslie Jones poses at the “Top Five” premiere at the Princess of Wales Theatre during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP, File)

To viewers steeped in cynicism, Seacrest had to broach the subject: Is this some kind of elaborate joke? Jones insisted it was genuine. She recalled watching the Olympics with her family growing up, describing it as an occasion for the country to pull together.

“I can’t believe that my enthusiasm is the biggest thing going on,” she said.

It was a welcome jolt for Seacrest, whose show has been relatively buzz-free. NBC developed it for Rio in the hope of bringing something distinctive to the time period. His presence alone has riled some cranks on social media who probably haven’t taken the time to watch him.

The hour’s centerpiece Sunday was a beach volleyball match featuring Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena that took place too late for the prime-time show. There was also a thoughtful story about the Brazilian beach volleyball team of Larissa and Taliti, who live and train with Larissa’s wife, Lili, another professional volleyball player.

As the two women showed off their wedding pictures, you wondered whether NBC would have thought it too risky to air in prime time. The piece should have dug even deeper: it never really explored why the couple weren’t teammates in beach volleyball, beyond Lili’s simple declaration that “love and work must be separate.”

Later, White turned up with an interesting story about meeting an old skateboard buddy in Rio, and a discussion about what it will mean to have skateboarding as an Olympic sport.

In sum, Seacrest’s show skillfully did what was intended — appeal to the next generation of Olympics fans — without being patronizing or heavy-handed.

SYNCHRONIZE IT: Speaking of “Saturday Night Live,” it’s impossible for anyone of a certain age to watch synchronized swimming and not think of Martin Short and Harry Shearer’s classic skit. Then you feel guilty seeing how hard it looks and hearing NBC’s Heather Olson describe a practice routine for Americans Mariya Koroleva and Anita Alvarez that includes ankle weights, which feels like a recipe for drowning. Olson said Sunday that Koroleva used to tell her teammates at Stanford that she was “business under water, party above the water.”

Also On New Pittsburgh Courier:
Red Carpet Rundown: 2016 Oscars
17 photos
comments – add yours