The end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 have been kinda rough for Kevin Hart. In December, a leaked email thread revealed that he’d allegedly asked to be paid additional money beyond his $3 million salary to tweet about an upcoming movie; “I’m not saying he’s a whore,” a studio exec reportedly wrote, “but he’s a whore.” (“Knowing your self worth is extremely important,” Hart wrote on Instagram after the email was published. “I OWN MY BRAND….I MAKE SMART DECISIONS FOR MY BRAND.”) The jokes he made while presenting at last week’s Golden Globes—one about how animated filmmakers have imaginations “fueled by weed,” one about how he wasn’t going to promote his new movie from the stage…before he promoted his new movie from the stage—both bombed, loudly.
And the aforementioned movie, which Hart will undoubtedly promote early and often on Saturday Night Live as well, is earning dismal reviews and less than impressive box office—especially compared to the comedian’s last January release. (Ride Along made $14.4 million on Jan. 17 alone last year; it earned $41.5 million its first weekend in total, making it the strongest January opening ever until the blockbuster success of this weekend’s American Sniper. The Wedding Ringer doesn’t look on pace to earn anywhere near that much.)
So: Could tonight’s SNL give Hart a chance to turn it all around—or even, as Don Draper would say, to change the conversation?
As of now, it’s anyone’s guest—though Hart certainly couldn’t ask for a better week to host SNL. Martin Luther King Day and Selma’s Oscar snubs are topics that are both ripe for Hart and the show’s cast to dissect—especially, perhaps, Leslie Jones, who also appears with Hart in Chris Rock’s film Top Five. In an ideal world, we’d also see a revival of the best sketch from Hart’s first stint as host—”Is it a B shirt?! Is it a C shirt?!“—and, Hart willing, a minimum of jokes about his height.
And, of course, we’ll also see something special on the musical stage. Tonight’s guest is “Chandelier” chanteuse Sia—a singer/songwriter who’s taken to hiding her face in public in recent years. (Even though, er, it’s not that hard to find out what she actually looks like.) Gimmicky as that may be, her camera-shyness leads to visually-striking live performances—and we know already that tonight’s will feature Maddie Ziegler, the pint-sized Mini-Sia who’s performed as the singer’s avatar in her “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” videos. Could a surprise Shia LaBeouf appearance be in the cards as well? If SNL’s taught us anything, it should be to never say never.
What are you hoping to see from Kevin Hart on Saturday Night Live tonight? (My second vote: More funny-awkward anecdotes about auditioning for its cast, please.) What do you think Sia and Maddie might get up to in the musical segments? And finally, cards on the table—no matter how charming Hart is onstage, what would it take to get you to willingly see The Wedding Ringer?