In true 21st-century comedian style, Brooks Wheelan announced his departure from Saturday Night Live on Monday night with a Twitter joke that's turning heads:
Had a blast and loved every second of it. I'm totally honored to be able to make this next joke... FIRED FROM NEW YORK IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT!
— Brooks Wheelan (@brookswheelan) July 14, 2014
The shakeup isn't exactly surprising given the recent turnover in the SNL cast. In the last two seasons, SNL has lost the likes of Kristin Wiig, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, and Seth Meyers, and executive producer Lorne Michaels admitted the series would be entering a "rebuilding" period.
Wheelan's firing is the first casting change to be announced since the end of SNL's 39th season back in May — but considering Michaels' comments, it seems likely that it won't be the last. SNL added eight new cast members before last season, each of whom enjoyed varying degrees of prominence and success on the show. To figure out who else might be on the chopping block, Vulture analyzed the impact of each of the eight newbies, taking into account number of sketch appearances and how integral the cast member was in those appearances.
As you can see, Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett are the clear winners, and Vulture foresaw Wheelan's demise even back in May. According to their research, John Milhiser seems to be next in line for a trip to the boss' office — but we'll just have to wait and see what other news comes out in the coming months. To make your own guesses in the meantime, read the rest of Vulture's analysis here.
Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell was rushed to a hospital in the Los Angels area on Tuesday, her official website confirmed early Wednesday:
Joni is currently in intensive care in an LA area hospital but is awake and in good spirits. More updates to come as we hear them.
— JoniMitchell.com (@JoniMitchellcom) April 1, 2015
Mitchell, 71, was reportedly taken to the hospital by an ambulance at about 2:30 p.m. from her Bel Air home. While no cause for her hospitalization has been provided, Mitchell said last December that she has a rare skin disorder called Morgellons disease that keeps her from performing.
Hey, if a German octopus can predict World Cup soccer matches, is using puppies to predict the winner of the NCAA men's basketball tournament so crazy? No, if you are Jimmy Fallon, as he had seven adorable pups preemptively crown a victor on Tuesday night's Tonight Show. Yes, if you are a fan of Duke, which got nothing more than a puppy tease. Watch, for the betting tip or for the puppies, below. —Peter Weber
The six-day marathon of negotiations over Iran's nuclear program went into overtime in Lausanne, Switzerland, blowing past a midnight Tuesday deadline and formally being extended to the end of April 1. Iran and Russia sounded optimistic notes late Tuesday, before talks broke for the night early Wednesday, but the U.S. said it will "walk away" if key elements in the political agreement can't be resolved and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declared he will return to France until his presence would be "useful."
"One can say with enough confidence that (foreign) ministers have reached a general agreement on all key aspects of a final settlement to this issue," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia's TASS news service. "It will be put down in writing over the next few hours, maybe during the day." No other negotiator was quite that upbeat. The main sticking points, Reuters says, are how quickly United Nation sanctions would be phased out, whether they could be automatically re-instated, and if Iran would get the unfettered right to research and develop nuclear centrifuges after a 10-year window.
Arkansas on Tuesday passed a religious freedom bill largely similar to the one in Indiana that has sparked an intense public backlash and boycott threats. The state's Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, has signaled he will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
Like Indiana's law, the Arkansas version goes further than a federal iteration and those elsewhere around the country in that it protects against "burdens" on religious freedom even when the state is not a party in the litigation. Amid unrelenting criticism, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Tuesday said his state would "fix" its law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Despite the fact that a large number of Americans find abortion to be morally unacceptable, pro-abortion rights activists are determined to destigmatize the procedure.
Carafem, a new clinic in the Washington, D.C. area, has an unconventional approach to providing patients with the abortion pill. The whole clinic has a "spa-like" feel, The Washington Post reports, and patients are provided with warm teas and soft robes.
While Carafem may aim to create a soothing atmosphere, President Christopher Purdy is unapologetic about the clinic's actual purpose. "We don't want to talk in hushed tones," he said. "We use the A-word."
According to the Post, the pro-abortion rights campaign comes as the movement is struggling politically in the face of anti-abortion activists' growing momentum. Activists hope that clinics like Carafem, coupled with "unapologetic" and "bold" attempts to put a human face to abortion, will help normalize the controversial procedure.
The secret to finding sewage leaks in rivers could be at your local drugstore.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield in England are using tampons' absorbent properties to science's advantage. Their study, published in the Water and Environment Journal, found that tampons absorb "optical brighteners" found in common cleaning products, and the particles make the tampons glow under ultraviolet light. By dipping tampons into rivers, the researchers believe they can detect where sewage is seeping into the water stream from nearby households.
The scientists left tampons attached to rods in 16 surface water outlets in Sheffield. After a three-day period, nine of the tampons glowed under UV light. The researchers were then able to identify where the sewage leaks were.
"Sewage in rivers is very unpleasant, very widespread, and very difficult to track down," David Lerner, a University of Sheffield professor who led the study, told The Guardian. "Our new method may be unconventional, but it’s cheap and it works."
The researchers estimate that five percent of English homes have misconnected pipes that cause sewage leakage. Only 17 percent of England's rivers are in "good health," The Guardian notes. The scientists hope to use the "tampon tests" in larger trial areas to help stop sewage pollution.
Defense lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Tuesday rested their case after attempting to convince jurors that while Tsarnaev participated in the attack, his brother was the mastermind.
The defense called just four witnesses while arguing that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a police chase following the attack, plotted the bombing that killed three and injured 260 more. Tsarnaev's lawyer's never denied their clients' guilt, saying in an opening statement, "It was him."
Tsarnaev faces 30 charges, 17 of which are punishable by death.