John Oliver's First 'Week' of the Year - NBC Bay Area

John Oliver's First 'Week' of the Year

"Last Week Tonight" returns just in time Sunday, following a three-month hiatus. 

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    NEWSLETTERS

    John Oliver's First 'Week' of the Year
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    John Oliver is gearing up for a new season.

    Moments after John Oliver won his second consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Variety Talk Series in September, late night comedy rivals Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel toasted him with a cocktail they dubbed, "The Last Week Tonight."

    "It's so high quality, apparently they can only make one a week," Emmys host Colbert quipped.

    The bit poked fun at Oliver's place in a late night TV landscape that, save for Samantha Bee and Bill Maher, is filled with hosts who turn out four or five shows a week, near year-round.

    For Oliver, 2018 begins Sunday when "Last Week Tonight" kicks off its fifth season on HBO. His return, following a three-month hiatus, is worth raising a glass.

    'Tonight': Howard Fainted While Filming 'Jurassic World'

    [NATL] 'Tonight': Bryce Dallas Howard Fainted From Fear While Filming 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom'

    Bryce Dallas Howard reveals some terrifying secrets behind the action sequences in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," including how they used a roller coaster to help them shoot an intense falling gyrosphere scene.

    (Published Friday, June 15, 2018)

    Oliver started working for Jon Stewart at "The Daily Show" in 2006, when the term "fake news" largely referred to satirical TV fodder. As the world got crazier, the lines between news and comedy blurred – to the point where “The Daily Show" became a trusted information source to some viewers.

    With his move to HBO in 2014, Oliver carved a niche by making his weekly program the "60 Minutes" of the comedy news field. Extended, research-intensive segments became the "Last Week Tonight" hallmark, with pieces tackling everything from misleading scholarship claims by the Miss America pageant to impact of the decline of local newspapers to proposed designs for New Zealand’s new flag.

    Stunts – goofy and otherwise –  created buzz. Oliver purchased $15 million worth of medical debt for about $60,000 – and forgave what was owed to shine a light on predatory bill collectors. He set up a phony church (Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption) to show how easy it is for unscrupulous, profiteering preachers to start tax-exempt religious institutions. And he created a stand-in U.S. Supreme Court comprised of dogs in robes.

    'Tonight': Bryce Dallas Howard Makes Animal Noises

    [NATL] 'Tonight': 'Jurassic World's' Bryce Dallas Howard Makes Animal Noises to Create Dinosaur Roars

    Bryce Dallas Howard and Jimmy Fallon create their own dinosaur roars to dub over a "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" scene by using an iPad to record themselves making animal noises.

    (Published Friday, June 15, 2018)

    Last season reached new high points – and jabbed some raw nerves.

    The show paid to air a series of folksy, issue-oriented commercials aired in Washington during "Fox & Friends" in a bid to get President Trump's attention. Oliver mercilessly mocked FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s oversized Reece’s novelty mug while skewering the push to end net neutrality. A segment about a litigious coal mining baron spurred a lawsuit.  

    Oliver made some off-season headlines in December, when he pressed Dustin Hoffman on recently leveled allegations of past sexual harassment. “You’ve put me on display here,” Hoffman said during the testy exchange, an unexpected part of an Oliver-moderated discussion marking the 20th anniversary of the film, “Wag the Dog.”

    'Tonight': Disguised Christina Aguilera Busks in NYC Subway

    [NATL] 'Tonight': Christina Aguilera Busks in NYC Subway in Disguise

    Christina Aguilera and Jimmy Fallon put on disguises and give a surprise performance of her hit "Fighter" and Aretha Franklin's "Think" in a New York City subway station.

    (Published Friday, June 15, 2018)

    Oliver has stayed out of the spotlight in recent weeks with Bee and Maher already back at work and Colbert, Kimmel, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers producing quality political comedy night after night. 

    Still, Oliver's output over his first four seasons, which averaged about 30 installments apiece, boosts hopes his return will be worth the wait.

    We could all use a finely aged "Last Week Tonight" cocktail, especially at a time when current events are a lot to swallow.

    'Late Night': Ed Helms Shamed Kids for Peeing in the Pool

    [NATL] 'Late Night': Ed Helms Shamed Kids for Peeing in the Pool

    Actor Ed Helms chats with Seth Meyers about his new film, "Tag," as well as the times he shamed young kids for peeing in a pool when he was a lifeguard. 

    (Published Friday, June 15, 2018)

    Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.