TV/STREAMING . . .

The Big Bang Theory tapes its 279th and final episode. The Big Bang Theory taped its 279th and final episode of the show's 12-season run Tuesday -- an exuberant half-hour that is sure to tickle fans who are no doubt expecting a happy ending for the tenants of apartments 4A and 4B. As fans know, the May 16 finale will be two-parter -- the first segment of which was screened for the studio audience Tuesday before the final 22 minutes were performed live on soundstage 25 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. Some parts of the finale will feel just like another week in the wacky world of Big Bang: Yes, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) wears a superhero T over a long-sleeved shirt, a few old friends stop by, and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) has plenty of fun poking at his longtime roommate. But in between solid jokes about sex, apartment decor, childcare and food, there are some tender and very unexpected surprises. And there's at least two revelations that no one will see coming. In between takes, Kaley Cuoco (Penny) lingered on stage and clapped with the audience while Galecki played some air guitar and wore a big grin. Maybe he was just trying to shake off the weepies: In one of his early scenes with Cuoco, it looked like he was truly on the verge of tears. He finally shed them moments later. Before shooting the final scene of the episode, a choked-up Galecki addressed the crowd by saying, "This is a dream come true for all of us." "You've been the best fans for 12 years," he continues. "You are a part of a family, and we love you very much." He then called on Cuoco to join him, and she shared something series creator Chuck Lorre told the cast at their final table read: "The Big Bang Theory will live on in our hearts forever. It's so sweet and simple, and it's so true." Lorre, who was there with co-creator Bill Prady and the rest of the writers, snapped the clapboard for the last scene; it was met with raucous applause. During the final curtain call, the cast just waved to the audience and hugged each other. Prady, meanwhile, wandered about and looked bereft as the Green Day song "Time of Your Life" played over the studio speakers. After the series finale of TBBT, CBS will present Unraveling the Mystery: A Big Bang Farewell. The half-hour special will feature Galecki and Cuoco as they take viewers behind the scenes of the long-running comedy. The duo will share backstage secrets, personal memories, and highlights from the sitcom's record-breaking 279 episodes. The series finale will air from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET on May 16. (Entertainment Weekly)

Elisabeth Moss Is Ready for Battle in The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Trailer. We're just one month away from the season three premiere of The Handmaid's Tale. On Wednesday morning, Hulu released the first trailer from the highly-anticipated new season. In the trailer, we see June/Offred (Elisabeth Moss) back in Gilead, ready to fight. "Heresy, that's what you get punished for," Moss' voice says in the trailer. "Not for being part of the resistance, because officially, there is no resistance. Not for helping people escape, because officially, there's no such thing as escape." "If I'm going to change things, I'm going to need allies," she continues as we see images of Nick (Max Minghella) and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski). "Allies with power." We then see June and Serena talking about her influence as Mrs. Waterford. "As Mrs. Waterford, you have influence," June tells Serena, who responds, "Up to a point." "So move the point," June tells her. The new season premieres Wednesday, June 5 on Hulu. (Eonline)

Grey's Anatomy Spills the Vic and Chief Ripley Beans in Station 19 Crossover Sneak Peek. Cat's outta the bag for this Station 19 couple. Vic (Barrett Doss) and Chief Ripley's (Brett Tucker) little secret (that they've been hooking up in secret for months) is now out, thanks to one talkative Grey's Anatomy doctor in the exclusive sneak peek. The two shows are crossing over this week when Ripley passes out while buying flowers and ends up at Grey Sloan Memorial, being treated by Schmitt (Jake Borelli), the doctor who just so happened to have witnessed him buying those flowers for someone named Vic. Cue the shocked faces of Andy (Jaina Lee Ortiz) and Ben (Jason George). Of course, the bigger problem right now is that Ripley is lying in a hospital bed after passing out at a flower shop, and according to Maggie (Kelly McCreary), he's got a whole bunch of big medical words wrong with him. "He may have had the condition for years. You never know when or why you're gonna go down, it just happens," Owen (Kevin McKidd) offers. The crossover will start with Grey's Anatomy's "What I Did For Love," directed by Jesse Williams. Maggie treats Ripley while Jo (Camilla Luddington) learns a hard lesson and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) makes a call that could jeopardize her career. On the Station 19 half of the night, titled "Always Ready," the team deals with Ripley's hospitalization, which leaves the future uncertain in the face of a life-threatening situation. So yeah, the Ripley/Vic part of this is probably not the most important thing going on, but we can't help it that we're suckers for a secret romance. Grey's Anatomy airs at 8 p.m. and Station 19 airs at 9 p.m. this Thursday on ABC. (Eonline)

The good news for "Empire" fans ... the show is coming back for Season 6. The bad news for Jussie Smollett -- he's not coming back. Fox just issued the following statement ... "By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett's option for season 6, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to 'Empire.'" Yep ... sounds weird, that Fox wants to keep Jussie hanging just in case, but that's the deal. It could be ... Fox is hedging its bets, to see what happens in the civil case in which the City of Chicago is suing the actor for the costs of the investigation. The upshot of that case -- Jussie will be tried for allegedly faking the "attack." Perhaps if he wins, Fox will reconsider. As we reported, Jussie has had lunch meetings with "Empire" execs, and for a time it looked like he may come back, but now it seems Jussie needs to find other employment. Here's the loose end ... by picking up/extending Jussie's option, it would seem they have to pay him something per the contract. After all, he couldn't really accept another gig if he could be called back to "Empire." So, is Jussie getting paid for not working on the show? (TMZ)

Kate McKinnon could be leaving 'Saturday Night Live.' Kate McKinnon's career is so hot, rumors abound she may leave "SNL." The comic -- who's played everyone from Hillary to Rudy on the NBC sketch show -- may exit, as her contract is due to run out and she's prepping to star as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes for Hulu. With three shows left in the current season, McKinnon's reps and "SNL" producers are working to find a way to keep her on board, Variety reported. "SNL" sources told Page Six that no decisions have been made. (PageSix)

Oprah Winfrey has been advising Gayle King in CBS contract negotiations. Lookout, CBS! Gayle King has been getting advice from her power bestie Oprah Winfrey during her contract negotiations to stay on "CBS This Morning." Page Six previously revealed that King is set to stay at the network -- but her deal is still not finalized. Winfrey spoke to the Hollywood Reporter about King in a new cover story on the media mogul: "I said, 'Get what you want. Get exactly what you want, because now's the time. And if you don't get what you want, then make the next right move.'" The savvy star added: "I actually called up her lawyer, Allen Grubman, and I said, 'Allen, she should get what she wants.' And Allen goes, 'What the F do you think I'm doing here? I said the same thing to her!'" Oprah related that negotiations started before King's much-talked-about interview with R. Kelly, further revealing: "I sent her a text saying, 'Jesus looooves you.' But [the R. Kelly interview] could not have been better if I had done that myself. I think every interviewer thinks, 'What would you have done in that moment?' And what she did was absolute perfection. I just thought that for this moment to happen at the time when she's also in the middle of negotiations is unbelievable -- but she's always had that [gift]." (PageSix)

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