‘Saturday Night Live’ Cold Open Takes Aim at NFL’s Jon Gruden Scandal; Daniel Craig Makes Cameo

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This week’s “Saturday Night Live” cold open took aim at the scandal surrounding former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who was forced out last week after shockingly racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments he made in emails while he was an ESPN commentator resurfaced.

The sketch featured “SNL” key players including Colin Jost, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Heidi Gardner and Pete Davidson. The sketch featured a series of people accepting and then quickly resigning as Raiders coach because of problematic statements in their past.

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Raiders owner Mark Davis (played by Alex Moffat) was also skewered for his unusual bowl haircut: “I’ve heard all the jokes about my hair and how it looks like Donald Trump’s haircut gave me a haircut.”

Jost played NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “All 32 teams understand that diversity is our strength,” Jost as Goodell said. “I know our Black coaches would agree. Both of them.”

Davidson appeared as former professional football player Larry Rucker. He steps up to the podium and says, “It’s a real shame I have to immediately resign. They just found my emails.”

Chris Redd played former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was pressured out of the league after he opted to kneel during the playing of the national anthem as a protest against the oppression and killing of Black people at the hands of American police officers.

“So much stuff coming out about [how] the NFL is maybe racist. Huh, I wonder if anyone tried to warn people about this before,” Redd’s Kaepernick said.

The sketch closed with Thompson appearing as LeVar Burton in a mix of two of his famous roles: Geordi La Forge of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the host of the PBS children’s show “Reading Rainbow.” Thompson broke into a “Reading Rainbow”-style song alongside Kaepernick and Davis before shifting to the familiar refrain “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night.”

Rami Malek served as host, while Young Thug was the musical guest. Malek, who can currently be seen in theaters playing the scarred (emotionally and physically) Bond villain Lyutsifer Safin in “No Time to Die,” opened his “Saturday Night Live” monologue by addressing the elephant in the room: yes, he does have “Resting Villain Face” and is well-aware of his natural bad guy looks.

He went on to joke about how he’s always felt a kinship with the malefactors and sinners of cinema and TV, noting that Jaws was “just hungry,” Dracula was “just thirsty,” Darth Vader was “just trying to reconnect with his son” and Freddy Krueger, well, he’s just been “encouraging kids to dream.”

Though Malek’s opening monologue was brief, he did make time to note that he is the son of Egyptian immigrants and lived such a sheltered childhood (along with his sister and his twin brother) in the San Fernando Valley that he had no idea he lived about 10 minutes away from Hollywood— or, he clarified, “3 hours” in Los Angeles traffic time.

One of Malek’s first major sketches brought a cameo appearance from his “No Time to Die” co-star Daniel Craig. In the sketch, Craig, Malek and Thompson audition to play the late, glittery Minnesotan singer-songwriter Prince for a horror flick.

Malek’s other buzzy sketch was a country musical inspired by Netflix’s hot capitalist-apocalypse Korean drama “Squid Game,” where he shared some bars with Davidson.

During “Weekend Update,” hosted by Jost and Che, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Bowen Yang dressed up as an Oompa-Loompa to address the first-look photos of Timothée Chalamet playing a young Willy Wonka in an upcoming prequel about the flamboyant Chocolate Factory owner. Yang also made a quick quip about being part of IATSE. The joke came just hours after the union and Hollywood’s major studios set a three-year contract amid a strike threat that has had the industry on edge.

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