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Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live (SNL) is a weekly late-night 90-minute comedy-variety show from NBC which has been broadcast virtually every Saturday night since its debut on October 11, 1975. It is one of the longest-running network entertainment programs in American television history. Each week, the show's cast is joined by a guest host and a musical act.

The show has been the launching place for some major American comedy stars of the last thirty years. It was created by Dick Ebersol and Lorne Michaels, of whom, the latter ��xcluding a hiatus from Season 6 through Season 10��as produced and written for the show and remains its executive producer (Jean Doumanian producing most of Season 6, and Ebersol 7-10).

In January 2005, NBC renewed SNL's contract until 2012.
Saturday Night Live logo (2004 Season)
Saturday Night Live logo (2004 Season)

Structure of the show

The show usually follows a standard format. It opens with a sketch, known as the cold opening, which begins without any announcement or titles, is often about politics or other current events, and always ends with someone saying "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" The show then segues into the opening credits, which usually open with a shot of the Statue of Liberty and a montage of the cast members cut with various locations around the city. The opening credits are voiced-over by long-time NBC announcer Don Pardo. The show's theme music has been re-arranged many times, but always follows the same basic chord patterns.

Next is the opening monologue performed by the guest host(s), often followed by a TV commercial parody. The show continues with more comedy skits (sketches might feature recurring characters, running gags, celebrity impersonations, movie and TV spoofs, and skits parodying the news issues of the day), followed by a performance by the guest musical act. More recent shows have the second act divided by an animated short by Robert Smigel. The news parody segment Weekend Update marks the show's midway point. The second half of the program continues with more sketches, and in most cases a second performance by the musical guest. Some shows also feature filmed segments, often featuring cast members, or it may feature independent film shorts. In a few rare cases, a third musical performance by the week's musical guest is done at the end of the show, but in most instances this is just a goodbye segment by the host and musical guest. Also, in some reruns, shows have been edited to contain a mixture of skits, and do not follow this sequence.


* 1975 - 1980
* 1980 - 1985
* 1985 - 1990
* 1990 - 1995
* 1995 - 2000
* 2000 - 2005
* 2005 - Present
* Weekend Update


Current repertory players

* Darrell Hammond (1995-present)
* Chris Parnell (1998-present)
* Horatio Sanz (1998-present)
* Rachel Dratch (1999-present)
* Maya Rudolph (2000-present)
* Tina Fey (2000-present)
* Seth Meyers (2001-present)
* Amy Poehler (2001-present)
* Fred Armisen (2002-present)
* Will Forte (2002-present)
* Finesse Mitchell (2003-present)
* Kenan Thompson (2003-present)

Current featured players

* Jason Sudeikis (2005-present)
* Andy Samberg (2005-present)
* Bill Hader (2005-present)

For a full list of past and present cast, see Saturday Night Live cast.

Notable tenures

Although SNL has an often rapid turnover of supporting players (many of whom have appeared for only one season or less), some performers have had long tenures with the show. Few have broken the eight-year barrier. Among the longest serving repertory players are:

* Phil Hartman (8 seasons: October 1986 - May 1994)
* Kevin Nealon (9 seasons: October 1986 - May 1995)
* Tim Meadows (9遜 seasons: February 1991 - May 2000)
* Darrell Hammond (10 seasons and counting: September 1995 - present)

Cast member deaths

Although SNL is well-known as the launchpad for many successful careers, several cast members have died young:

* 1982: John Belushi was the first casualty from drug abuse
* 1984: Andy Kaufman, although not a cast member, was a frequent guest in the early years of the show. Died of a rare form of lung cancer
* 1989: Gilda Radner died after a year-long battle with ovarian cancer;
* 1994: Danitra Vance (a one-season cast member) died of breast cancer;
* 1994: Michael O'Donoghue (one of the original writers and featured players) who long suffered from severe chronic migraine headaches, died of a cerebral hemorrhage;
* 1997: Chris Farley died from drug abuse;
* 1998: Phil Hartman was the victim of a murder-suicide by his wife.


SNL received some negative publicity in 1999 when it was leaked that, henceforth, actors joining the show would have to agree in their five-to-six year contract that, upon request, they would act in up to three movies by SNL Films, for fees of US$75,000, US$150,000, and then US$300,000; and also that, upon request, they would leave SNL and act in an NBC sitcom for up to an additional six years. This appeared to be a reaction to former cast members like Adam Sandler and Mike Myers going on to movie stardom.

Some agents and managers characterized these long-term contracts as involuntary servitude, saying that almost any young, undiscovered comic would immediately agree to any given set of exploitative contractual restrictions for the opportunity to launch their careers via the show. NBC publicly defended the new contracts, saying that SNL was doing a service to young comics by launching so many careers.

It was reported in 1999 that the starting salary for SNL cast members was US$5,000 per episode.

Production process

The following is a summary of the process used to produce the show. It is based in part on an August 2000 Writer's Digest article and an April 2004 Fresh Air interview with Tina Fey:

* Monday: The day begins with a topical meeting, identifying the biggest story for the show's opening. This is followed by a free-form pitch meeting with Lorne Michaels and the show's host for the week. According to an October 2004 60 Minutes segment on the show, throughout the week the host has a lot of influence on which sketches get aired. Following the meeting, writers begin to draft the two scripts each must produce.
* Tuesday: Starting in the afternoon, anywhere from 30 to 45 scripts are written, significantly more than will make it to air. Most writers work through the night. Once a writer's scripts are complete, he or she will often help other writers on their scripts.
* Wednesday: All scripts get a read-through. After the read-through, the head writer(s) and the producers meet with the host to decide which sketches to work on for the rest of the week, with Lorne Michaels and the host having the final say.
* Thursday: The surviving sketches are reviewed, word-by-word, by the writing staff as a whole (or in two groups in the case of co-head writers). Some sketches which survived the cut because of their premise but otherwise needed a lot of work are rewritten completely. Others are changed in smaller ways. Thursday is also the day that Weekend Update starts coming together, starting with the news items written by writers dedicated all week to the segment. This is also the first day the crew comes in for rehearsal. The music act is rehearsed as well as some of the larger more important skits.
* Friday: the show is blocked (staged). The writer of each skit acts as producer, working with the show's set designers and costumers.
* Saturday: With the show still far from finalized, the day begins with a run-through, with props, in front of Lorne Michaels. After the run-through, the cast and crew find out which of the sketches are in the dress rehearsal, and which are cut. The writer/producer deals with any changes. This is followed by an 8 p.m. dress rehearsal in front of a live audience, which lasts until 10 p.m. or sometimes later, and which contains around twenty minutes of material which will not make it to the broadcast. Lorne Michaels uses first-hand observation of the audience reaction to the rehearsal, and input from the host, to determine the final round of changes, re-ordering sketches as necessary. The show then begins at 11:29p.m. (11:35 or 11:45 in some markets).

The status of the show during the week is maintained on a bulletin board. Sketches and other segments are given labels which are put on index cards and put on the board in the order of their performance. The order is based on content as well as production limitations such as camera placement and performer availability. Segments which have been cut are kept to the side of the board. As the broadcast approaches, often the writer/producer discovers the fate of his or her segment only by consulting the bulletin board.

A 60 Minutes report taped in October 2004 depicted the intense writing frenzy that goes on during the week leading up to a show, with crowded meetings and long hours. The report particularly noted the involvement of the guest hosts in developing and selecting the skits in which they will appear.

When it's not live

SNL is one of the few shows on television to have its in- and off-season reruns aired out of its original broadcast sequence. The sequence of the in-season reruns (that is, encore shows that air during the season it originally aired) are usually determined by the episode(s)' popularity. So, for example, if by the midway point of the season in December, a show hosted by Robert DeNiro turned out to be the highest rated show of the season thus far, it would be the first show to be repeated when SNL begins airing its reruns during one of their live breaks. Shows usually air twice during a particular season, but often the highest rated shows of the season have a second encore show towards the end of the off-season.

Encore showings are not always identical to the original broadcast. Frequently, segments that did not work well during the original showing are replaced by alternate performances, or sometimes completely different skits that had been taped at the dress rehearsal that preceded the live broadcast.

From time-to-time, SNL airs compilation shows. Such shows will feature the best of a previous season (consisting of skits and musical segments specially selected by the producers), or of a particular cast member (such as Eddie Murphy or Adam Sandler) or guest (such as Tom Hanks), or centered on a particular theme (for example, Halloween, Christmas, or a major news event). Every election year, SNL airs a "Presidential Bash" featuring both classic and new skits involving Presidents and presidential candidates. The 2000 Bash was notable for having self-deprecating skits taped of the actual candidates (George W. Bush and Al Gore) rather than the players normally assigned to impersonate them.

When it's less than live

Over the years SNL has almost always been broadcast live on the east coast, in spite of the expletive spoken by Charles Rocket in 1981. The exceptions were shows hosted by Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison, and Andrew Dice Clay, which were broadcast on a seven-second delay.

During Eddie Murphy's last season, he was only available for part of the season, so they recorded a number of extra sketches featuring him that were broadcast in episodes he was not available for, according to the book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad.

Some live shows may also be altered and edited for the West Coast (where it is broadcast at 11:29 p.m. Pacific Time, three hours after the live broadcast); in some cases recordings of sketches or performances from the program's dress rehearsal have been substituted for the later feed. When Sam Kinison delivered a comic monologue in 1986, NBC removed his plea for the legalization of marijuana from the West Coast broadcast.

Rights to SNL

NBC holds the copyright to every episode of the show made thus far. The syndication rights to the original incarnation (1975-1980) were originally acquired by Filmways Television (later Orion Television and MGM), while the syndication rights to the shows made from 1980 forward (that is, rerun rights beginning two years after its original NBC airings) have been held by Broadway Video, Lorne Michaels' production company.

The home video rights have also been scattered. Warner Home Video originally released several episodes from the original incarnation (1975-1980). Paramount released a "Best Of Eddie Murphy" video compilation in the 1980s (Murphy had a multi-picture deal with Paramount at the time). In the 1990s, Starmaker Entertainment held the video rights. Today, Lions Gate Home Entertainment handles the VHS and DVD releases of SNL under a new license with NBC.

For many years, both Comedy Central and E! Entertainment Television aired SNL reruns under license with Broadway Video and Orion/MGM (respectively). In 2003, full rights reverted completely to NBC, and the E! network acquired the exclusive syndication rights to the series.

The only episodes that have not been included in any syndication package (including the current deal with E!) are the prime-time special at Mardi Gras in New Orleans (the only time the show has originated outside of New York), and the infamous 1990 episode which Andrew Dice Clay hosted.

In Canada, episodes from 1975-1980 are aired in late night programming hours, weeknights on some Global Television Network owned stations such as CHAN and CIII.

Infamous moments

Since it is broadcast live, SNL has had several infamous events that were either unplanned or provoked sufficient controversy to receive media coverage:

* In 1977, musical guest Elvis Costello threw the show's schedule off by playing the song Radio Radio (see Banned From The Show, below).
* In 1980 writer Al Franken performed the sketch "A Limo for the Lame-o" which mocked NBC president Fred Silverman's failure to improve the network's ratings. NBC executives were furious, and the sketch was thought to be the reason why Franken was not considered to replace Lorne Michaels at the end of the season.
* In 1981, Charles Rocket, portraying the gunshot victim in a parody of the "Who Shot J.R." plot on the program Dallas, said, "I'd like to know who the fuck did it," during the live feed of the "goodnights" segment. Afterward, everyone except Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo were fired.
* In 1981, John Belushi invited infamous LA punks Fear to serve as musical guests for an episode. The band played some not ready for prime time numbers ("I Don't Care About You" and "Beef Balogna," among others) and invited members of the audience to come up on stage and mosh, prompting Belushi and various members of the crowd to trash the place.
* In 1988 a sketch set at a nudist colony used the word penis many times, culminating in a performance of the nudist club anthem, "The Penis Song." [1]
* In 1990, comedian Andrew Dice Clay was chosen to host; cast member Nora Dunn and scheduled musical guest Sin鐃�d O'Connor boycotted the show in protest, due to perceptions that his jokes were misogynistic.
* In 1992, Sin鐃�d O'Connor ripped up a photo of the Pope (see The Banned List).
* In 1994, host Martin Lawrence delivered a raunchy stand-up routine including jokes that had not been approved (see The Banned List).
* In 1994 a sketch in which host Alec Baldwin played a pedophile scoutmaster generated more hostile letters than any sketch in the show's history. [2]
* In 1997, during his Weekend Update Norm MacDonald fumbled with his words and then said, "What the fuck was that", not realizing what he had said. [3]
* In 1998, a TV Funhouse segment entitled "Conspiracy Theory Rock" aired. A parody of the public service Schoolhouse Rock cartoons of the 1970s, this segment vilified the "media-opoly" (buyouts of media stations by large corporations with whom they may have a conflict of interest) and those corporations' alleged use of corporate welfare to pay off and campaign for congressmen. The cartoon aired only in the original broadcast and was edited out of reruns, with Lorne Michaels claiming that the cut was made because he didn't feel the segment "worked comedically." Later, Harry Shearer said in an interview that the move was actually made because "he [Michaels] wanted to keep working at 30 Rock."
* In 2004, musical guest Ashlee Simpson became the first SNL performer to walk offstage when a pre-recorded backing track for the wrong song was accidentally played. It proved to viewers that Simpson had been lip synching, though the singer later claimed she was using the backing track due to an alleged throat illness. The incident was the subject of widespread coverage in the news and subsequent SNL skits.
* In 2005, musical guest System of a Down performed the song "B.Y.O.B.". At the end of the performance, guitarist Daron Malakian screamed, "fuck yeah!" which was missed by the censors.

Banned from the show

Over the years, SNL has banned both hosts and musical guests from re-appearing on the show whether it be for a complete lack of effort in performance or for unconventional or often arrogant behavior either on or off the set.

* One of the first hosts to be barred from performing again was Louise Lasser, who hosted at the end of the first season on July 24, 1976. Lasser was said to be going through personal problems at the time and was reportedly nearly incoherent throughout the broadcast. This episode was such a disappointment to producer Lorne Michaels, that it was also barred from syndication until as late as 2002.

* Charles Grodin was banned, in a way, in October, 1977, due to his clumsy performance. Grodin had missed rehearsal, and stumbled his way through the show. Many of his lines were ad-libbed. Grodin has never been asked back to host.

* Elvis Costello was banned from SNL for 12 years. On December 17, 1977, he was slated to perform with his group The Attractions. NBC and the show's producer Lorne Michaels didn't want Costello to perform "Radio, Radio," since it was an anti-media song. Costello defied them by beginning to play "Less Than Zero," stopping, telling the audience that there was no reason to do that song, and started playing "Radio, Radio." Besides the defiance, it also infuriated Michaels because it put the show off schedule. Costello was finally invited to come back and play in 1989, and even reenacted his act of defiance on the 25th Anniversary Show with the Beastie Boys in 1999.

* Frank Zappa had been banned from the show after his hosting stint on October 21, 1978. His acerbic and often misunderstood sense of humor made him more than unfavorable with the cast and crew. During his performance, he made a habit of reading cue-cards and mugging the camera. Many cast members (save for John Belushi) stood noticeably far from him during the goodnights.

* The April 24, 1979, episode of the show hosted by Milton Berle resulted in his banning due to his habit of upstaging other performers, overacting, mugging for the camera, insertion of "classic" comedy bits and his maudlin performance of September Song. This episode was also barred from rebroadcast for over twenty years (until February 2003 when an edited version was shown on E!) as Lorne Michaels felt that the broadcast, and Berle in particular, brought the show down.

* On November 13, 1982, host Robert Blake, who had been very uncooperative with the scripts that had been given him throughout the week (at one point, he even crumpled up a script presented to him by cast member and writer Gary Kroeger, and threw it back in his face), was also barred from performing on the show again.

* Another banning of sorts happened exactly one week after Blake's, when the show decided to leave the fate of a frequent guest in the hands of viewers. Andy Kaufman, who had appeared on the show periodically since its beginning in 1975, was on the chopping block. Viewers had to call a 900 number to decide if Kaufman should be allowed to stay, or be banned for life from the show. Viewers decided to kick him off and Kaufman never returned to the show. In truth, the idea was pitched to Dick Ebersol weeks before by Kaufman, and Ebersol used the idea after he had a fight with Kaufman. When Kaufman heard the news that he was banned, he felt betrayed.

* Steven Seagal, who hosted on April 20, 1991, has also been barred from hosting due to his difficulty in working with the cast and crew, who weren't afraid to make note of the occasion almost a year and a half later. During Nicolas Cage's monologue in a 1992 episode, Nicolas is speaking with Lorne backstage and says, "...they probably think I'm the biggest jerk who's ever been on the show!" To which Lorne replied, "No, no. That would be Steven Seagal." [4]

* Perhaps the most notable ostracism came in 1992, when Sin鐃�d O'Connor appeared on the program with host Tim Robbins. In her second set of the show, she performed an a capella version of Bob Marley's "War." At the end, she picked up a picture of Pope John Paul II, ripped it up, and shouted, "Fight the real enemy!" From the booth, Director Dave Wilson immediately turned off the "applause" cue. NBC received many complaints about this within a matter of minutes. At the end of the show, Robbins refused to even thank O'Connor��s is custom��or being the musical guest. O'Connor was given a verbal beating by many other celebrities and public figures, and her career went into a dramatic decline. To this day, NBC refuses to lend out the footage of the performance to any media outlet. They have also edited out the incident from the syndicated version of the episode (although, curiously, an unedited version has been screened on the Foxtel cable network in Australia). However, it was finally released in 2003, with an explanation from Lorne Michaels, on Disc 4 of the "Saturday Night Live - 25 Years of Music" DVD set.

* Comedian Martin Lawrence has also been banned from the show. His opening monologue on the February 19, 1994 episode included comments about female genitalia. The monologue has been completely edited out in the syndicated version, with just a graphic describing in general what Lawrence had said. The graphic also told viewers that it was a lively monologue and it almost cost many SNL employees their jobs. [5]

* After hosting eight times, former SNL regular Chevy Chase was banned from ever hosting the show again after the February 15, 1997, episode due to his verbal abuse of the cast and crew during the week. Chase became notorious for his treatment of certain cast members when hosting past episodes, particularly his remarks to openly gay cast member Terry Sweeney in 1985 when he suggested that a perfect skit for Sweeney would be one in which Sweeney plays an AIDS victim who gets weighed every week. Chase's abusive behavior during the 1985 episode and others are detailed in the Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live book.

* The latest victim came on May 10, 2003, when host Adrien Brody came out to introduce the musical guest, reggae musician Sean Paul, dressed in Rastafarian attire. Without any prior notice, he began speaking in a Jamaican accent and went on a tirade of sorts for close to 45 seconds before finally introducing the act incorrectly, misannouncing Sean Paul as "Sean John." Lorne Michaels is notorious for his dislike of improvisation and unannounced performances (as was also the case in Elvis Costello's incident), and therefore was furious with Brody for not obtaining clearance before performing this "monologue."

Frequent hosts

The following performers have hosted SNL at least five times:

* Steve Martin (13) -'I was just at home in bed, and I thought, "I'd like to do a cameo."'
* John Goodman (12)
* Alec Baldwin (11)
* Buck Henry (10)
* Chevy Chase (8)
* Tom Hanks (7)
* Danny DeVito (6)
* Elliott Gould (6)
* Christopher Walken (6)
* Candice Bergen (5)
* Bill Murray (5)
* Paul Simon (5 times, 10 total appearances, once with Illinois Senator Paul Simon)

Several special episodes of SNL have been compiled and aired that were "best of" episodes of several of these hosts, including Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, and Alec Baldwin.

Last minute replacement hosts

* Nick Nolte was scheduled to host the December 11, 1982 Christmas episode, but he became too ill to host, so his 48 Hrs. co-star (and SNL cast member), Eddie Murphy took over as host. He became the only cast member to host while still a regular. Eddie Murphy opened the show with the phrase, "Live from New York, It's the Eddie Murphy Show!" The decision to have Eddie Murphy host was reported to have upset the rest of the cast.

* Martin Short was originally supposed to host the 1994 season premiere but backed out at the last minute. He was replaced by Steve Martin.

* Jon Stewart was originally supposed to host in February, 2000, but had to back out at the last minute. He was replaced by Alan Cumming. Stewart finally hosted the show in March 2002.

* Dana Carvey was supposed to host for the first time in April, 1994, but he had to back out at the last minute. He was replaced by Emilio Estevez. Carvey finally hosted six months later.

* Joe Pesci was originally supposed to host on May 9, 1992, but had to back out at the very last minute. He was replaced by Tom Hanks. Pesci finally hosted five months later.

* Ray Romano was originally supposed to host the show for the second time in April, 2002 but had to drop out due to a busy schedule. He was replaced by The Rock.

* Jim Carrey was originally supposed to host the 1999 Christmas show to promote Man on the Moon. He had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced by his Man on the Moon co-star Danny DeVito.

* David Letterman was originally supposed to host the 1992-1993 season finale, but backed out due to his problems with NBC. He was replaced by Kevin Kline.

* Ben Stiller was originally scheduled to host on October 6, 2001, but he said it was "impossible to be funny at times like this" (shortly after 9/11). Seann William Scott hosted instead.

* Jennifer Garner was scheduled to host on January 15, 2005 but she had to cancel due to suffering from nerve damage from an injury she sustained while filming Alias. She was replaced by Topher Grace.

Recurring characters and sketches

Main article: Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches

Below is a short list of some of SNL's most popular recurring sketches.

* Weekend Update
* The Coneheads (Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman)
* Samurai Futuba (John Belushi)
* Leonard Pinth-Garnell (Dan Aykroyd)
* Mister Robinson's Neighborhood (Eddie Murphy)
* Ed Grimley (Martin Short)
* Wayne's World (Mike Myers, Dana Carvey)
* Hans and Franz (Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey)
* Church Lady (Dana Carvey)

* Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker (Chris Farley)
* Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey
* Stuart Smalley (Al Franken)
* Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon)
* Mango (Chris Kattan)
* Celebrity Jeopardy! (Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond)
* Jarret's Room (Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz)
* The Falconer (Will Forte)
* Art Dealers (Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph)

Movies based on SNL skits

The early days of SNL spawned a few movies and low-budget films. However, it wasn't until the huge success of Wayne's World that Broadway Video (Lorne Michaels' production company) became encouraged to feature more film spinoffs, with several popular 1990s sketch characters (and a few unlikely ones) becoming adapted into movies. Producers tried their luck with a revival of '70s characters The Coneheads, followed by movies based around Pat, Stuart Smalley, The Ladies Man, The Butabi Brothers and Mary-Catherine Gallagher. Some did moderate business but others bombed disastrously ��notably It's Pat and Stuart Saves His Family, with the latter losing US$15 million despite good reviews.

* Mr. Mike's Mondo Video (1979)
* All You Need Is Cash (aka The Rutles) (1979)
* The Blues Brothers (1980)
* Gilda Live (1981)
* Mr. Bill's Real Life Adventures (1986)
* Mr. Saturday Night (1992)
* Wayne's World (1992)
* Wayne's World 2 (1993)

* Coneheads (1993)
* It's Pat! (1994)
* Stuart Saves His Family (1995)
* A Night at the Roxbury (1998)
* Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
* Superstar (1999)
* The Ladies Man (2000)
* A Mighty Wind (2003)
* Key Party' (2006?)


* Steve Martin was a frequent guest host of the program and even had popular recurring characters. However, contrary to popular belief, Martin was never a regular member of the cast.
* Although Darrell Hammond holds the record for longest tenure of a Contract Player with 10 consecutive seasons (about 200 episodes), Al Franken has been credited for 12 seasons (1977-80) & (1985-94), although appearing only in a total of about 140 episodes as a Featured Player.
* Morwenna Banks holds the record for the shortest tenure of a Contract Player with only four episodes (April 1995 - May 95). The record for shortest tenure of a Featured Player goes to both Laurie Metcalf and Emily Prager, both appearing in only one episode (April 11, 1981).
* Eddie Murphy is the only person to have hosted the show while still a cast member; this occurred during season 8 (December 11, 1982), when Murphy filled in for a sick Nick Nolte.
* The cold opening occasionally varies from the traditional "Live From New York...", either to commemorate the season number (usually during season premieres) or to follow the consistency of a certain sketch. In 1981, the traditional cold opening was done away with entirely (returning the next season).
* Michael McKean and Dan Aykroyd are the only performers to appear as cast members, hosts, and as musical guests (McKean as David St. Hubbins from "This Is Spinal Tap" and Aykroyd as Elwood Blues from "The Blues Brothers.")
* Michael McKean and Billy Crystal are the only two people to join the cast after having hosted the show.
* 18 former cast members have later come back to host the show. Curiously, none of them female (Gilda Radner was scheduled to host in 1988, but was called off due to a writers strike, and died the following year).
* Harry Shearer and Brian Doyle-Murray are the only two cast members to work under both Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. Shearer in 1979 and 1984, and Doyle-Murray in 1979 and 1981. In addition, Doyle-Murray also worked under one-season Producer Jean Doumanian as a writer.
* The eldest host was Ruth Gordon, at age 80, in the episode aired on January 22, 1977.
* The youngest host was Drew Barrymore, at age 7, in the episode aired on November 20, 1982.
* The eldest cast member was Michael McKean at age 47 (1994-1995)..
* The youngest cast member was Anthony Michael Hall at age 17 (1985-1986).
* Kenan Thompson is the only cast member to date born after SNL's premiere in 1975.
* The highest rating audience (according to Nielsen) was for the episode aired on October 13, 1979 (Steve Martin/Blondie).
* Guest hosts who had previously auditioned for the show earlier in their careers only to be turned down include: Paul Reubens, John Goodman and Jim Carrey (1980); and Lisa Kudrow (1990).
* During the early years, the format of the show was not completely set in stone. For example, one early broadcast, hosted by Paul Simon, included a reunion with his former musical partner, Art Garfunkel. Only a few comedy sketches were featured during the episode, with others dropped in order to allow Simon and Garfunkel to perfom an extended musical set. On another occasion, Beat Generation author William S. Burroughs appeared on the program and read passages from his books, to mixed response.

* Prior to his stint on the show, Dennis Miller won a Gabriel Award for his work on "Punchline," a children's TV show. This is somewhat ironic, since Miller is known for his overuse of profanity.

* When Kevin Spacey hosted the show in 1997, one set of skits spoofed the screen tests of Star Wars. Spacey played Christopher Walken auditioning for the role of Han Solo. Walken really was considered for the role before Harrison Ford was chosen. Spacey also played Walter Matthau auditioning for Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jack Lemmon auditioning for Chewbacca.

* George Carlin was the show's first host. Instead of taking part in skits, Carlin performed snippets of his stand up comedy routines.

The Studio

Since the show's inception, SNL has been filmed from Studio 8H located on Floors 8 and 9 of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (usually nicknamed "30 Rock"). Due to the studio originally being a radio soundstage for Orchestra, the layout of the studio floor and the audience positioning, causes some audience members to have an obstructed view of many of the skits.

During the summer 2005 shooting hiatus, crews began renovations on Studio 8H. Starting fall 2005, the show will be broadcast in High Definition, a move that will ensure compliance with an FCC mandate to do so by 2007.

On the August 17, 2005 episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brian (also aired on NBC), Conan mentioned hearing furniture being moved around in the studio upstairs. When Conan asked if it was a rival show, someone mentioned that it was Saturday Night Live. Conan responded, "Saturday Night Live? It'll never make it." Late Night with Conan O'Brian is filmed in Studio 6A, on floors 6 and 7 of "30 Rock".

The offices of SNL writers, producers, and other staff can be found on the 17th floor of "30 Rock".

See also

* List of Saturday Night Live hosts and musical guests
* Kids in the Hall, which was also produced by Lorne Michaels
* Saturday Night Live commercial, a series of parody advertisements
* List of Saturday Night Live episodes

* A comprehensive episode list.

* MADtv, a similar series appearing on Fox and Comedy Central

Wikicities has an SNL Wikicity at SNLWiki

External links
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by or about:
Saturday Night Live

* Official NBC website
* Summary of the series from the Museum of Broadcast Communications
* Directory > Entertainment > Television Shows > Comedies > Sketch Comedy > Saturday Night Live, from Yahoo!
*, Google's interface to a long-lived SNL fan's Usenet group
* SNL infos on IMDB


* SNLRA, an extensive GeoCities-hosted ad-supported fansite
* SNL Archives and SNL Transcripts, extensive SNL fansites hosted by a Glendale, Arizona-based company
*, yet another extensive ad-supported fansite, maintained by a college student

Rowan & Martin's Laugh

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In was a United States comedy television show broadcast for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968 through 1973 over the NBC network. The title Laugh-In was a play on a popular 1960s concept called a "love-in," where people would get together to protest war by singing songs and holding hands. Hosted by the comedy team of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin (Rowan played the exasperated straight man, Martin the horny, dumb guy), the show was characterized by a rapid-fire series of gags and sketches; many of them carried sexual innuendo, others were politically charged, and most were just silly.

A typical episode's format

* Shortly after the beginning of the show was a scene called The Cocktail Party, with all cast members plus assorted surprise celebrities dancing in a swinging 1960s party atmosphere, in between delivering one- and two-line jokes.
* "The Mod, Mod World" segment, with sketches based around a common theme, would be interspersed with footage of some of the female castmembers go-go dancing in bikinis, their bodies painted with gags. (This was usually done by Goldie Hawn, Judy Carne and Chelsea Brown; Ruth Buzzi and Jo Anne Worley popped up rarely, as did frequent guest star Pamela Austin. In the '69-'70 season, the chore was handled briefly by new castmembers Teresa Graves and Pamela Rodgers before the go-go dancing became the sole domain of uncredited extras.)
* The Farkle Family, a couple with a lot of kids - all of whom had flaming red hair and freckles just like the next-door neighbor (Ferd Berfle; played by Dick Martin). Father Frank never questioned this fact when he visited the Farkles. Most "plots" were cheap excuses to force the cast into horrendous tongue-twisters. Flicker Farkle, the youngest (played by Buzzi), had no lines except screaming "Hiiii!!!"
* "Laugh-In Looks at the News," a parody of a network newscast commenting on current events, "News of the Past" which lampooned historical events, and a segment on "News of the Future," predicting unlikely or bizarre future news stories to comic effect. (Rowan actually nailed some, mentioning "President Ronald Reagan" in a story from "1988, 20 years from now," eliciting laughter from the audience. Another prediction��hat the Berlin Wall would be destroyed in 1989��ikewise came true, although the followup gag that it would be "quickly replaced by a moat full of alligators" did not.) This was years before Saturday Night Live offered its own parody news.
* The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate award, noting dubious achievements by the government or famous people.
* Judy Carne was often tricked into saying "Sock it to me," which then led to her being doused with water or otherwise assaulted. "Sock it to me" became a catch phrase for the show. During the September 16, 1968, episode, Richard Nixon, who was running for President, appeared for a few seconds and asked the question, "Sock it to me?" According to the DVD liner notes, an invitation was extended to Nixon's opponent, Hubert H. Humphrey, but he didn't accept. Some people even credit that brief appearance for handing the very close election to Nixon that year.
* At the end of every show, Dan Rowan turned to his co-host and said, "It's time to say good-night, Dick," to which Martin replied, "Good-night, Dick" (reprising a bit from the old George Burns and Gracie Allen radio show). The show then featured various cast members opening panels in a psychedelically painted 'joke wall' and telling short jokes to one another. As the show drew to a close and the general applause died down, the sound of one person clapping continued even as the screen turned blank.

Memorable castmembers/guests and their running gags

* Arte Johnson portrayed a number of recurring characters, including:
o Wolfgang, the Nazi soldier, commenting on the previous gag by saying Verrry interesting, sometimes with additional comments such as "...but schtupit!" He would close each show by talking to Lucille Ball and the cast of Gunsmoke ��both airing opposite Laugh-In on CBS.
o Tyrone F. Horneigh, the dirty old man coming on to Ruth Buzzi (as Gladys Ormphby, an extremely drab old lady in a hair net who also frequented the Cocktail Party) seated on a park bench, who inevitably hit him with her purse. Both the Horneigh and Ormphby characters returned in the "Nitwits" segments of the 1977 animated television show "Baggy Pants and the Nitwits".
o Rosmenko, the Eastern European Man, who stood stiffly and nervously in an ill-fitting suit while commenting on differences between America and "The Old Country," such as "Here in America, is very good, everyone watch television. In Old Country, television watches you!" This predated a similar schtick by Yakov Smirnoff.
o Rabbi Shankar (a pun on Ravi Shankar), an Indian guru dressed in a Nehru jacket dispensing pseudo-mystical Eastern wisdom laden with bad puns.
o A man in a yellow raincoat riding a tricycle, crashing, and falling over.
* Los Angeles disc jockey Gary Owens standing with his hand cupped over his ear, giving announcements, often with little relation to the rest of the show.
* Henry Gibson holding a flower and reading offbeat poems.
* Henny Youngman telling one-liner jokes for no apparent reason. (Often, any corny one-liners would be followed by the line, "Oh, that Henny Youngman!")
* Lily Tomlin as the obnoxious telephone operator "Ernestine" ("We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company") and as a child named "Edith Ann" ("And that's the truth. Pbbbt!"). (Tomlin also famously performed Ernestine for Saturday Night Live, and Edith Ann on children's shows such as The Electric Company.)
* Alan Sues ("Big Al") as a clueless and fey sports anchor who loved ringing his bell, which he called his "tinkle."
* Goldie Hawn was the giggling dumb blonde who would say many a time: "I forgot the question."
* Jo Anne Worley would sometimes sing songs showing how loud her operatic voice was but mostly would detect "chicken jokes." Many times, during the Cocktail Parties, she talked about her boyfriend Boris (who was a married man).
* Flip Wilson, whose frequent character, the cross-dressing "Geraldine," originated the phrase "What you see is what you get."

Memorable moments and catchphrases

The show gave considerable publicity to singer Tiny Tim, an unusual-looking man with long hair who sang in a falsetto voice while accompanying himself on ukulele. Thanks to his appearances on the show, he achieved a hit single with his piercing version of the vintage 1920s song "Tiptoe Through the Tulips." Tiny Tim was later married on the Tonight Show to a woman known as Miss Vicky.

Other musical moments came in the first season with some of the first music videos ever seen on TV, with cast members appearing in film clips set to the music of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Bee Gees, the Temptations and the First Edition.

Cast members Lily Tomlin and Goldie Hawn later became noted film stars. Henry Gibson later starred in the Robert Altman film Nashville (which also featured Tomlin). Dave Madden, whose trademark on the show was to throw a handful of confetti while keeping a deadpan expression at the punch line of a joke, later played the role of Reuben Kincaid in the television sitcom The Partridge Family. Richard Dawson, who previously had a regular part in the sitcom Hogan's Heroes, went on to his defining role as host of the U.S. television game show Family Feud. Teresa Graves parlayed her one season on the show into the title role of the police drama Get Christie Love!

Besides the ones mentioned above, the show created other popular catch phrases:

* "I didn't know that." (Dick Martin's occasional response as to what will happen on an episode)
* "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnall's"
* "Go to your room"
* "Uncle Al had a lot of medicine last night" (famous line by Uncle Al, the Kiddies' Pal, played by Alan Sues)
* "You bet your sweet bippy"
* "Here come the judge!" (reprising a bit first made famous by comedian Pigmeat Markham and continued by frequent guest star Sammy Davis, Jr.)
* "'Ello, 'ello! NBC, beautiful downtown Burbank" (the response to the calls received by a switchboard operator played by Judy Carne). When it went to syndication in 1983 both the NBC logo that was featured in the segment and the network's name in the catch phrase was edited out.
* "One ringy-dingy...two ringy-dingies..." (Ernestine's responses to the rings that would occur while she was waiting for someone to pick up the receiver on the other end of the phone lines)
* "A gracious good afternoon. This is Miss Tomlin of the telephone company. Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?" (Ernestine's greeting to people who she would call)
* "I just wanna swing!" (Gladys Ormphby's catchphrase)
* "Is that a chicken joke?" (Jo Anne Worley's outraged cry, a takeoff on the Polish jokes of the day)
* "Here comes the big finish, folks!" (usually before the last of a series of guest stars' bad puns)

There was also a Laugh-In Magazine published for about two years; it was similar to MAD Magazine. A comic strip was also seen in newspapers and published in paperback form.

Cast comings and goings

The show was #1 in the ratings for the 1968��9 and '69��0 seasons. At the end of '68��9, Judy Carne chose not to renew her contract as she wanted to pursue other projects, though she did make occasional appearances during '69��0; producer George Schlatter blamed her for breaking up the "family." The show also survived the departures of Goldie Hawn, and Jo Anne Worley to remain a top-20 show in '70��1. New faces in the 1970��1 season (joining Tomlin, who first appeared late in the previous season) included tap dancer Barbara Sharma, who would later appear on Rhoda, and Johnny Brown, who later gained fame as the superintendent 'Bookman' on Good Times. Arte Johnson and Henry Gibson would depart after the 1970��1 season, replaced by Dawson and Larry Hovis, both of whom had also appeared occasionally in the first season. However, the loss of Johnson's many characters caused ratings to drop farther.

The show celebrated episode #100 in the '71��2 season; Carne, Worley, Johnson, Gibson, Graves and Tiny Tim returned for the festivities. John Wayne was also on-hand for his first cameo appearance since 1968.

For the show's final season (1972-73), Rowan and Martin assumed the Executive Producer roles from George Schlatter (known on-air as "CFG", which stood for "Crazy F***ing George") and Ed Friendly; a mostly new supporting cast (save holdovers Dawson, Owens, Buzzi and only occasional appearances from Tomlin) was brought in, but the viewers didn't respond and the show was cancelled. This final season, which included future Match Game panelist Patti Deutsch and ventriloquist Willie Tyler of Willie Tyler and Lester fame, never aired in the edited half-hour rerun package that was syndicated to local stations in 1983 and later aired on Nick at Nite. The cable network Trio started airing the show in its original one-hour form in the early 2000s, but only the pilot and the first 69 episodes (extending to the fourth episode of the 1970��1 season) were included in Trio's package. Two "Best-of" DVD packages are also available; disappointingly, they only contain six episodes each.

Of the over three dozen entertainers to grace the cast, only Rowan, Martin, Owens and Buzzi were there from beginning to end (although Owens wasn't in the 1967 pilot and Buzzi missed two first-season episodes.)

In 1977 Schlatter and NBC briefly revived the property as a series of specials with an entirely new cast. Among the new folks was a then-unknown Robin Williams ��whose starring role on ABC's Mork & Mindy one season later prompted NBC to rerun the specials as a summer series in 1979.

See also: Farkle, Alan Sues, Jo Anne Worley.

Regular Performers (with season numbers, where known)

* Dan Rowan, host
* Dick Martin, host
* Gary Owens, announcer
* Ruth Buzzi
* 1----- Eileen Brennan (1968)
* 123--- Judy Carne (1968-1970)
* 1234-- Henry Gibson (1968-1971)
* 123--- Goldie Hawn (1968-1970)
* 1---5- Larry Hovis (1968, 1971-1972)
* 1234-- Arte Johnson (1968-1971)
* 1----- Roddy Maude-Roxby (1968)
* 123--- Jo Anne Worley (1968-1970)
* -2345- Alan Sues (1968-1972)
* -2---- "The Fun Couple" Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall (1968-1969)
* -2---- Chelsea Brown (1968-1969)
* -2---- Dave Madden (1968-1969)
* -2---- Pigmeat Markham (1968-1969)
* -2---- Dick Whittington (1968-1969)
* -23--- Byron Gilliam (1969-1970; uncredited in season 2, returned as dancer only in 5)
* --3--- Teresa Graves (1969-1970)
* --3--- Jeremy Lloyd (1969-1970)
* --3--- Pamela Rodgers (1969-1970)
* --3--- Stu Gilliam (1970)
* --3456 Lily Tomlin (1969-1973)
* --345- Johnny Brown (1970-1972)
* ---45- Dennis Allen (1970-1973)
* ---45- Ann Elder (1970-1972)
* ---4-- Nancy Phillips (1970-1971)
* ---45- Barbara Sharma (1970-1972)
* ---4-- Harvey Jason (1970-1971)
* ---456 Richard Dawson (1971-1973; also one appearance in Season 1)
* -----6 Moosie Drier (1971-1973)
* -----6 Tod Bass (1972-1973)
* -----6 Brian Bressler (1972-1973)
* -----6 Patti Deutsch (1972-1973)
* -----6 Lisa Farringer (1972-1973)
* -----6 Sarah Kennedy (1972-1973)
* -----6 Jud Strunk (1972-1973)
* -----6 Willie Tyler (1972-1973)
* -----6 Donna Jean Young (1972-1973)

Regular guests

* Jack Benny (1968-1970, 1972)
* Johnny Carson (1968-1970, 1971, 1973)
* Sammy Davis Jr. (1968-1970, 1971, 1973)
* Zsa Zsa Gabor (1968-1970)
* Peter Lawford (1968-1971)
* Tiny Tim (1968-1970, 1971-1972)
* John Wayne (1968, 1971-1973)
* Flip Wilson (1968-1970)
* Henny Youngman (1968-1969, 1971-1973)

More Celebrities Who Have Guest-Starred

* Barbara Feldon
* Pamela Austin
* Buddy Hackett
* Sheldon Leonard
* Lorne Greene
* Robert Culp
* Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
* Muriel Landers
* Cher
* Tim Conway
* Don Adams
* Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
* Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
* Walter Slezak
* Dinah Shore
* The Temptations
* Connie Stevens
* Jerry Lewis
* Sally Field
* Terry-Thomas
* the Bee Gees
* Godfrey Cambridge
* Sonny Bono
* Paul Winchell
* Pat Morita
* Joey Bishop
* Ed McMahon
* Harry Belafonte
* John Byner
* James Garner
* Regis Philbin
* Anissa Jones
* Inga Nielsen
* Leonard Nimoy
* Edward Platt
* Elgin Baylor
* Sivi Aberg
* Hugh Downs
* Jill St. John
* Hugh Hefner
* Bob Hope
* Jack Lemmon
* Richard Nixon
* Sonny Tufts
* Herb Alpert
* Eve Arden
* Arlene Dahl
* Otto Preminger
* Greer Garson
* Kirk Douglas
* Liberace
* Lena Horne
* France Nuyen
* Bobby Darin
* Rosemary Clooney
* Mitzi Gaynor
* Harland Sanders
* Van Johnson
* Werner Klemperer
* Jimmy Dean
* Marcel Marceau
* Bill Dana
* George Gobel
* Rod Serling
* Rock Hudson
* Dick Gregory
* Victor Borge
* Phil Harris
* Perry Como
* Joseph Cotten
* Vincent Price
* Tony Curtis
* Cliff Robertson
* Barbara Bain
* Billy Barty
* Martin Landau
* Guy Lombardo
* Nanette Fabray
* George Jessel
* Rich Little
* Bob Newhart
* Don Rickles
* Kate Smith
* Peter Falk
* David Janssen
* Pat Nixon
* Nancy Sinatra
* The Smothers Brothers
* Frank Gorshin
* Tom Kennedy
* Davy Jones
* Nipsey Russell
* Robert Wagner
* Gina Lollobrigida
* Mel Brooks
* Doug McClure
* Ann Miller
* Forrest Tucker
* Shelley Winters
* Laurence Harvey
* Billy Graham
* Debbie Reynolds
* Peter Sellers
* Michael Caine
* Diana Ross
* The Monkees
* Jack E. Leonard
* Lana Wood
* Anne Jackson
* Eli Wallach
* Romy Schneider
* Carol Channing
* Sid Caesar
* Engelbert Humperdinck
* Roger Moore
* Jacqueline Susann
* Jonathan Winters
* Bing Crosby
* Tennessee Ernie Ford
* Jim Backus
* Andy Griffith
* Carl Reiner
* Ringo Starr
* Wally Cox
* Danny Kaye
* Milton Berle
* Andy Williams
* Edgar Bergen
* Mickey Rooney
* Art Carney
* David Frost
* Don Ho
* Zero Mostel
* Orson Welles
* Desi Arnaz
* Ricardo Montalban
* Phil Silvers
* Phyllis Diller
* William F. Buckley
* Wilt Chamberlain
* Gore Vidal
* Sam Yorty
* David Steinberg
* Jack Cassidy
* Marcello Mastroianni
* Chuck Connors
* Truman Capote
* Richard Crenna
* Fernando Lamas
* Raquel Welch
* Vida Blue
* Sugar Ray Robinson
* Joe Namath
* Vin Scully
* Roman Gabriel
* Andy Granatelli
* Bill Russell
* Doug Sanders
* Willie Shoemaker
* James Brolin
* Rita Hayworth
* Doc Severinsen
* Karen Valentine
* Edward G. Robinson
* Janet Leigh
* Lee Grant
* Liza Minnelli
* Ralph Edwards
* James Coco
* Agnes Moorehead
* Mike Mazurki
* Carroll O'Connor
* Jack Soo
* Charo
* Petula Clark
* Fannie Flagg
* Jack LaLanne
* Sally Struthers
* Robert Goulet
* Charles Nelson Reilly
* Mort Sahl
* Sue Ane Langdon
* Slappy White
* Paul Lynde
* Charlie Callas
* Dick Cavett
* Johnny Cash
* Sandy Duncan
* Gene Hackman
* Jack Carter
* Steve Allen
* Jo Ann Pflug
* Jean Stapleton
* Isaac Hayes
* Kent McCord
* Martin Milner
* Sebastian Cabot
* Dyan Cannon
* Julie London
* Bob Crane
* William Conrad
* Lucie Arnaz
* Ross Martin
* Cass Elliot
* Michele Lee
* Peter Marshall
* James Farentino
* Hugh O'Brian
* Bill Bixby
* Totie Fields
* Mike Connors
* Totie Fields
* Della Reese
* James Caan
* Carol Burnett
* Demond Wilson
* Jack Klugman
* Steve Lawrence
* Howard Cosell
* Alex Karras
* Angie Dickinson
* Monty Hall
* Oral Roberts
* Ernest Borgnine
* Arthur Godfrey
* Meredith Baxter
* David Birney
* Rip Taylor
* Dom DeLuise
* The Monkees (sans Peter Tork)

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Format Sitcom
Run time 21 Minutes
Creator Larry David
Jerry Seinfeld
Starring Jerry Seinfeld
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Michael Richards
Jason Alexander
Country USA
Network NBC
Original run July 5, 1989��ay 14, 1998
No. of episodes 180 (incl 4 clip shows)

Seinfeld is a television sitcom, considered to be one of the most popular and influential of the 1990s in the U.S., to the point where it is often cited as epitomizing the self-obsessed and ironic culture of the decade. In 2002, TV Guide released a list of the top 50 greatest shows of all time and ranked Seinfeld #1. The show stars Jerry Seinfeld playing Jerry Seinfeld, a character named after and based largely on himself, and is set predominantly in an apartment block in Manhattan's Upper West Side, New York. It features an eclectic cast of characters, mainly Jerry's friends and acquaintances ��Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards), George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). It is produced by Castle-Rock Entertainment (then helmed by famed actor and producer, Rob Reiner) and is distributed by Columbia Pictures Television (now Sony Pictures Television).


The show has been famously described as "the show about nothing", as most of the comedy was based around the largely inconsequential minutiae of everyday life, and often involved petty rivalries and elaborate schemes to gain the smallest advantage over other individuals. The characters have also been described as utterly selfish and amoral; the show standing out by depicting these traits in a comedic fashion. (However, it should be noted that a common motif concerns characters' attempts to do nice things for people, only to have them backfire exponentially.) In contrast to many other sitcoms, the allowing of scenes to lapse into sentimentality was generally avoided, and Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's dictum of "no hugging, no learning" gave the show its distinctively cold and cynical tone. However, themes of illogical social graces and customs, neurotic and obsessive behavior, and the mysterious workings of relationships ran in numerous episodes, making it possible to categorize the show as a comedy of manners. The show's creators made a conscious effort to reflect the activities of real people, rather than the idealized escapist characters often seen on television, although many episodes do feature surreal escapades, often based on scenes from famous movies.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine, and Jerry Seinfeld as himself
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine, and Jerry Seinfeld as himself

Previous shows on television were almost always family or co-worker driven, and Seinfeld holds itself up as being a then-rare example of a sitcom wherein none of the characters were related by blood or employed, if at all, in the same building or business.
Tom's Restaurant, a diner at 112th St. and Broadway in Manhattan, referred to as "Monk's Cafe" in the show.
Tom's Restaurant, a diner at 112th St. and Broadway in Manhattan, referred to as "Monk's Cafe" in the show.

According to Bruce Fretts' 1993 The "Entertainment Weekly" "Seinfeld" Companion, Seinfeld's audience was, "TV-literate, demographically desirable urbanites, for the most part-who look forward to each weekly episode in the Life of Jerry with a baby-boomer generation's self-involved eagerness." Likewise, in episodes adhering to the original concept, the show featured clips of Seinfeld himself delivering a standup routine at the beginning and end of each episode, the theme of which relates to the events depicted in the plot. By this device the distinction between the actor Jerry Seinfeld and the character who is portrayed by him is deliberately blurred. In later seasons, these standup clips became less frequent. All of the main characters were modeled after Seinfeld's real life acquaintances.

Another violation of the fiction convention of isolating characters from the actors playing them, and separating the characters' world from the actors' and audience's world, was a story arc that concerned the characters' roles in promoting a television sitcom series named Jerry. Jerry was much like Seinfeld in that Seinfeld played himself, and that the show was "about nothing". Jerry was launched in the 1993 season premiere of Seinfeld, in an episode titled "The Pilot". This story arc, along with other examples of self-reference, have led many critics to point out the postmodern nature of the show.
Jerry Seinfeld performing his famous stand-up comedy at the ending of an episode ("The Boyfriend Part. 2)
Jerry Seinfeld performing his famous stand-up comedy at the ending of an episode ("The Boyfriend Part. 2)

According to Katherine Gantz, this entanglement of character and actor relationships "seems to be a part of the show's complex appeal. Whereas situation comedies often dilute their cast, adding and removing characters in search of new plot possibilities, Seinfeld instead interiorizes; the narrative creates new configurations of the same limited cast to keep the viewer and the characters intimately linked. In fact, it is precisely this concentration on the nuclear set of four personalities that creates the Seinfeld community".

Another attribute that makes Seinfeld exceptional is that in almost every episode, several story threads are presented at the beginning, generally involving the various characters in separate and unrelated situations, which then converge and are interwoven towards the end of the episode in an ironic fashion. Due to the densely-plotted construction of the storylines, attempts to summarize the action in a given script are generally more verbose than one would expect for a sitcom. Despite any separate plot strands, the narratives show "consistent efforts to maintain [the] intimacy" between the small cast of characters. "Much of Seinfeld's plot and humor hinge on outside personalities threatening��nd ultimately failing��o invade the foursome, ... especially where Jerry and George are concerned." (Gantz 2000)

Gantz maintains that another factor in, or further proof of, spectators' and characters' participation in a Seinfeld community is the large amount of in-slang, "a lexicon of Seinfeldian code words and recurring phrases that go unnoticed by the infrequent or 'unknowing' viewer". These include Bubble Boy, Biff Loman, Master of My Domain, Junior Mints, Shrinkage, Mulva, Crazy Joe Davola, Man Hands, Yada Yada, Dr. Van Nostran, Spongeworthy, and Art Vandelay.

The show premiered as The Seinfeld Chronicles on May 31, 1990 on NBC. Seinfeld was not an immediate success. After the pilot was shown, on July 5, 1989, a pickup by NBC did not seem likely and the show was actually offered to Fox, which declined to pick up the show. It was only thanks to Rick Ludwin, head of late night and special events for NBC, for diverting money from his budget, that the next four episodes were filmed. After nine years on the air and 180 episodes filmed, the series finale of Seinfeld aired on May 14, 1998. It was watched by a huge audience, estimated at 76 million viewers. Jerry Seinfeld holds both the record for the "most money refused" according to the Guinness Book of World Records by refusing an offer to continue the show for 5 million dollars per episode, and another record for the Highest Ever Annual Earnings For A TV Actor[1], while the show itself holds the record for the Highest Television Advertising Rates[2].

In the UK Seinfeld was screened on BBC TWO, usually at around 11:30 PM. Fans and critics constantly campaigned for an earlier time slot, but it never happened. The show was subsequently rerun on the Paramount Comedy Channel on satellite in a mid-evening slot.

In 2004 a deal was negotiated to make Seinfeld available on DVD for the first time. Due to legal problems with the cast involving episode commentary and other DVD extras, the release was pushed back. The first 3 seasons were released November 23, 2004, and season 4 was released in May 2005. The DVD packaging claims that the series was remastered on HDTV to provide the best possible picture quality.


See also: Seinfeld characters and culture

Main Characters

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld (played by Jerry Seinfeld)�� standup comedian who seeks out relationships with attractive women which rarely last more than one episode. A number of episodes involve some obsession of Jerry's that results in offending the romantic interest and ruining the relationship. Among his strongest obsessions are his impulsive need for neatness, his love of Superman and for cereal. There is a reference to Superman, either visually, conversationally, or thematically, in over 70% of the episodes in the series.
Main characters on Seinfeld TV program
Main characters on Seinfeld TV program

George Costanza

George Louis Costanza (played by Jason Alexander)�� "short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man", the neurotic George is a self-loathing, congenital liar domineered by his parents, especially his father Frank. He has held many jobs, including that of a real estate agent, a bra salesman and an assistant to the traveling secretary for the New York Yankees. He also worked briefly at a sporting equipment company called Play Now and at Kruger Industrial Smoothing (and��ery briefly��t Pendant Publishing). His relationships with women were always unsuccessful, including his engagement to Susan Ross, played by Heidi Swedberg. The character of George was largely based on the show's co-creator and Seinfeld's real-life best friend, comedian Larry David. Episode plots would frequently feature George manufacturing elaborate deceptions at work or in his relationships, in order to gain or maintain some petty advantage. These schemes would invariably backfire. Many of George's predicaments were based on ones that Larry David had found himself in at one point or another in his own life.

Cosmo Kramer

Cosmo Kramer (played by Michael Richards)��all, wild-haired, Kramer is the most eccentric Seinfeld character. He is frequently involved in hare-brained schemes to get rich. Undoubtedly the most popular character on the show, he is often described as the "action character" that draws audiences with his wild and unusual antics and movements. In one show, Kramer is called a "hipster doofus." He is based on Larry David's neighbor, Kenny Kramer. Kramer adopts a different bizarre habit or money-making scheme almost every episode. He is friends with Newman, as well as a wide variety of (mostly off-screen) acquaintances and shady partners.

Elaine Benes

Elaine Marie Benes (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus)��ike Jerry, much of Elaine's life revolves around trying to arrange relationships with attractive individuals, although some of hers last longer than Jerry's. The most noticeable is her on-again, off-again relationship with David Puddy (played by Patrick Warburton). She has also held jobs for Pendant Publishing, The J. Peterman Catalog, and as a personal assistant to the wealthy Mr. Pitt. Elaine was a composite of two girlfriends of the creators, one being writer Carol Leifer, Seinfeld's real-life ex-girlfriend. In the show Elaine and Jerry dated, and "broke up", timeline-wise, just before the first episode, remaining friends over the course of the show. Elaine went to Tufts University (her "safety school") and is a writer, though sometimes not realizing it. Elaine is most often a victim of circumstance, with plots surrounding her usually coming into conflict with her inadequate boyfriends or the arbitrary demands of her eccentric employers.

Recurring Characters

This is quick list of recurring characters. For more see: Seinfeld characters and culture

* Newman (played by Wayne Knight) ��Jerry and Kramer's neighbor; a portly, vengeful and spasmodic U.S. postal carrier
* Estelle Costanza (played by Estelle Harris) ��George's Mother
* Frank Costanza (played by Jerry Stiller) ��George's Father
* Susan Ross (played by Heidi Swedberg) ��Ex-fianc鐃� of George, dies from toxic wedding invitations
* Helen Seinfeld (played by Liz Sheridan) ��Jerry's Mother
* Morty Seinfeld (played by Barney Martin) ��Jerry's Father
* J. Peterman (played by John O'Hurley) ��the eccentric and loquacious boss of Elaine
* Mr. Steinbrenner (voice by Larry David) ��George Costanza's boss while working for the Yankees
* Uncle Leo (played by Len Lesser) ��the unavoidable and annoying Uncle of Jerry
* David Puddy (played by Patrick Warburton) ��on-again, off-again, sometimes "religious", boyfriend of Elaine.
* Mr. Wilhelm (played by Richard Herd) ��George's superior at the New York Yankees
* Mr. Lippman (played by Richard Fancy) ��Elaine's boss at Pendant Publishing
* Mr. (Justin) Pitt (played by Ian Abercrombie) ��hired Elaine to tend to his personal needs, such as buying socks.
* Mickey Abbott (played by Danny Woodburn) ��a little person who took on various acting gigs with Kramer
* Jackie Chiles (played by Phil Morris) ��Kramer's Lawyer, an obvious parody of Johnnie Cochran
* Kenny Bania (played by Steve Hytner) ��an unfunny stand-up comedian who idolizes Jerry
* Ruthie (played by Ruth Cohen) ��the (mostly) silent lady cashier at Monk's

Memorable incidents

See also Seinfeld sayings

The Dry Heave
Elaine Doing the Dry Heave
Elaine Doing the Dry Heave

In the episode "The Little Kicks" Elaine does the notorious Dry Heave dance in front of co-workers at a J. Peterman party (to which George and later Jerry exclaim "Sweet Fancy Moses!"), thoroughout the entire episode she is made fun of by co-workers behind her back, at first she believes it is George until she is told it is her horrendous dancing in which she moves her thumbs around and does little kick-ups with her feet. She is eventually told the reason and she films over a bootlegged copy of Cry, Cry, Again.


In the episode "The Bubble Boy", George claims "The Moops" is the answer to the Trivial Pursuit question "Who invaded Spain in the 8th century A.D.?". The Bubble Boy contested the answer, claiming it was the Moors (which is correct). George, with his stubborn nature, in reaction to the belligerent arrogance of the Bubble Boy, and out of spite, refused to accept the response in favor of the (presumably misprinted) answer given by the card. This incident, based on an actual error spotted by one of the writers whilst playing the home edition of Jeopardy!, has become a legendary moment for Seinfeld fans.

The Contest

One of the most controversial Seinfeld episodes, "The Contest", centers around a pact of self-denial between Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine. The four place a bet (with Elaine given slightly better odds) on who can go the longest without masturbating. In the show however, they were able to convey the meaning without actually using the word "masturbation". Kramer's early exit from the bet has become a classic moment in Seinfeld history, with his simple "I'm out!" as he slams his cash on the counter. This episode also features Jane Leeves (of Frasier fame) as "The Virgin", Jerry's girlfriend at the time.

Other classic moments include: Jerry's rant about the woman across the street, who struts around naked in her apartment, compromising his ability to remain "Master of His Domain" (and the same woman responsible for Kramer's early departure); Elaine's fascination with John F. Kennedy, Jr.; George's subtle introduction of the subject matter with the phrase, "My mother caught me"; and the "ease" with which the characters can sleep at night, depending on their current standing in the contest.

In an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, during an argument between Larry David and Jason Alexander, it is mentioned that David participated in a contest exactly like this one.

The Soup Nazi

Considered by many to be one of the most memorable episodes of the series, this finds the gang obsessed with a new soup stand. But the delicious soup doesn't come without a price, as customers must follow the strict rules set by the draconian owner known to most as The Soup Nazi. Besides soup, much of the focus of the episode falls on an armoire that Elaine buys on the street and has Kramer watch, only to have it stolen by a couple of effeminate thugs, played by Yul Vazquez and John Paragon. Larry Thomas guest stars as The Soup Nazi, a role that netted the actor an Emmy nomination.

One of the most memorable lines of the series is when the Soup Nazi refuses to serve soup, yelling "No Soup for you!"


Music featured in the show

* "Superman March" - John Williams - In "The Race" (Season 6, #10)
* "Manana (Is Good Enough For Me)" - Jackie Davis - In "The Blood" (Season 9, #160).
* Theme from The Greatest American Hero ([3]) - In "The Susie" (Season 8, #149) ([4])
* "Morning Train (9 to 5)" - Sheena Easton - In "The Bizarro Jerry" (Season 8, #137) and "The Butter Shave" (Season 9, #157)
* "Slow Ride" - Foghat - In "The Slicer" (Season 9, #162). Elaine tunes into her bedside radio and offers up a few characteristic dance moves.
* "Downtown" - Petula Clark - in "The Bottle Deposit (1)" (Season 7, #131). George looks for clues about his work assignment when Wilhelm mentions the song to him.
* "Wouldn't It Be Nice" - The Beach Boys - In "The Hamptons" (Season 5, #85).
* "Desperado" and "Witchy Woman" - The Eagles - In "The Checks" (Season 8, #141)
* "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" - Green Day - From the album "Nimrod"- In The Clip Show, Part 2 (Season 9, #21).
* "(Once, Twice) Three Times a Lady" - The Commodores - In "The Pothole" (Season 8 #15).
* "Hello" - Lionel Richie - In "The Engagment" (Season 7, #1), "The Invitations" (Season 7. #24), "The Voice" (Season 9, #2).
* "Everybody's Talkin'" - Harry Nilsson - In "The Mom and Pop Store" (Season 6, #8).
* "Shining Star" - Earth, Wind and Fire - In "The Little Kicks"

(Season 8, #4). Elaine does the infamous dry heave dance to this.

* "Theme From The Godfather" - Nino Rota - In "The Bris" (Season 5, #5)

"The Seinfeld Curse"

Following the end of Seinfeld, a number of cast members became stars of their own television series. However, these were all short-lived and unsuccessful, giving rise to the term "Seinfeld Curse" to describe the career of the actors post-Seinfeld. Actors to have their own show included:

* Jason Alexander- Bob Patterson, Listen Up, Duckman
* Michael Richards- The Michael Richards Show
* Julia Louis-Dreyfus- Watching Ellie

As an exception, Larry David's series Curb Your Enthusiasm, reliant on the much of the humor that characterized George Costanza, has been a success. When asked about the curse, David once said, "It's so completely idiotic.... It's very hard to have a successful sitcom." [5] Since most sitcoms are unsuccessful, the "curse" could simply be coincidence. In the summmer of 2005, John O'Hurley, who played J. Peterman on Seinfeld, finished runner-up on the American ABC reality series Dancing With The Stars to Kelly Monaco, possibly putting the so called curse to rest.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The show ends with the four being sentenced to one year in prison in Latham County, Massachusetts after they are arrested for not obeying a fictional Good Samaritan law. This led to a long trial that brought back many characters of the show's past acting as character witnesses against the group for their "selfish" acts over the years of the series. The Virgin, the low talker, and the Soup Nazi, are called to the witness stand- among many more old enemies and acquaintences. In a last bit of comedy, Jerry is seen wearing an orange prison suit with "Latham" printed on his right front side, "Latham County" being printed on the backs of the uniforms. He is telling prison jokes and is threatened by a fellow prisoner (voiced by Larry David who returned to write the finale) who says he will "cut" him.


* Seinfeld, Jerry. Sein Language. Bantam. 1993. ISBN 0553096060.
* Fretts, Bruce. The Entertainment Weekly Seinfeld Companion. New York: Warner Books. 1993. ISBN 0446670367.
* William Irwin (Ed.). Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing. Peru, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Company. 1999. ISBN 0812694090.
* Greg Gattuso. The Seinfeld Universe: The Entire Domain. New York: Citadel Press. 1996. ISBN 0806520019.


* Gantz, Katherine. "Not That There's Anything Wrong with That": Reading the Queer in Seinfeld. In Calvin Thomas (Ed.). Straight with a Twist: Queer Theory and the Subject of Heterosexuality. Champaign. Illinois: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252068130.
* Rosenthal, Phil (November 18, 2004). Gold, Jerry! Gold! Chicago Sun Times.

See also

* List of Seinfeld episodes
* The Seinfeld Chronicles (pilot)
* Festivus (Holiday)
* Soup Nazi (character)
* Rochelle, Rochelle (series of notable episodes)

External links
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by or about:

* Seinfeld at IMDb
* Seinfeld at Yahoo! TV
* Seinfeld
* Fortunes and pictures from Seinfeld


* The Food
* Mike "The News Guy"'s absurdly obsessive 'Lists' site

Frequently Asked Questions

* SeinFAQ - The unofficial Seinfeld FAQ


* Seinfeld - TV Series -


* Seinology
* Seinfeld Scripts
* The Original Seinfeld Scripts Archive

Small Wonder

Small Wonder is a sitcom from the 1980s. The story is based on the life of a suburban family consisting of a robotics engineer, his wife, their son and a robot created by the engineer who is passed off as their adopted daughter. As the robot daughter slowly learns human behaviour, albeit with a straight face, conducive situations for humour are generated. The half-hour show ran from September 16, 1985 to 1989, making it the first sitcom that Fox put into production. It was created by Howard Leeds, whose other credits include The Brady Bunch, Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.


* Ted Lawson (Dick Christie), father and engineer.
* Joan Lawson (Marla Pennington), mother.
* Jamie Lawson (Jerry Supiran), son.
* Vickie (Voice Imput Child Indenticant) Lawson (Tiffany Brissette), robotic daughter.

* Harriet Brendle (Emily Schulman), nosy neighbor with a crush on Jamie.
* Brandon Brendle (William Bogert), Harriet's father and Ted's boss from stealing Ted's ideas.
* Bonnie Brindle (Edie McClurg), Harriet's mother.

Suddenly Susan

Suddenly Susan was a US-American sitcom broadcast on NBC from 1996 to 2000. Suddenly Susan's main star was Brooke Shields, who got the show after a guest appearance on Friends.

Suddenly Susan takes place at The Gate, a fictitious magazine which is based in San Francisco. Among the magazine's employees is Susan Keane (played by Brooke Shields), who writes a columm on being a single woman. She lives with her loving grandmother, Nana (played by Barbara Barrie). Susan got the job at the magazine after deserting her fianc鐃�on her wedding day. Other employees include Luis Rivera (played by Nestor Carbonell), who is the magazine's photographer. Maddy Piper (played by Andr鐃� Bendewald) is the investigative reporter at The Gate. Restaurants are reviewed by Vicki Groener (played by Kathy Griffin) and concerts are reviewed by Todd Stites (played by David Strickland). The owner of The Gate is Jack Richmond (played by Judd Nelson). Jack turns out to be the brother of the man Susan deserted on her wedding day.

Besides the task of putting together a magazine, Suddenly Susan also focuses on the private lives of many employees in the show.

David Strickland's sudden death, by suicide, in 1999, forced changes in the show. The Gate got a new owner, Ian Maxtone-Graham (played by Eric Idle), who transformed The Gate into a men's magazine. He brought along Miranda Charles, his executive assistant (played by Sherri Shepherd). A sports writer, Nate Knaborski (played by Currie Graham) was added along with a freelance photographer, Oliver Browne (played by Rob Estes).


* There is actually an influential magazine published in San Francisco called SFGate.
* Eric Idle's character, Ian Maxtone-Graham, is named after a real TV writer (and Monty Python fan) who currently works on The Simpsons.

External links

Tales From The Crypt

Tales From The Crypt

Season 2 DVD cover art featuring the Crypt Keeper
Format Horror
Run time approx. 0:30
Creator William Gaines (original concept)
Starring John Kassir
Country USA
Network HBO
Original run June 10, 1989��uly 19, 1996
No. of episodes 93

Tales from the Crypt was a horror anthology TV series that ran from 1989 to 1996 on the premium cable channel HBO. It was based on the 1950s EC Comics series of the same name. The series is not to be confused with Tales from the Darkside, another similarly themed horror anthology series.

It was one of the few anthology series to be allowed to have full freedom from censorship by the FCC, due to the fact that it was on HBO, a cable television station. Given that HBO often allows its shows to have more graphic material than most shows on American television, the station allowed the series to contain graphic violence as well as other content that hadn't appeared in most television series up to that time, such as profanity, nudity, and sexual situations.

The series began as an American series, filmed in California. In the later seasons filming continued in England and many episodes filmed during that time revolved around British characters.

* 1 Episodes
* 2 Spin-offs
* 3 Awards
* 4 Technical data
* 5 See also
* 6 External links


Each episode began with the show's host, the Crypt Keeper, a wisecracking decomposing corpse (voiced by John Kassir), introducing the episode, which would be one individual story. Many of these episodes had guest appearances by notable celebrities. Many famous celebrities, such as Tom Hanks and Arnold Schwarzenegger, also directed some of the episodes of the series.

The episode "You, Murderer" is particularly of note, due to the fact that it was one of the first shows ever filmed that used computer effects to digitally insert actors into an episode. Alfred Hitchcock appeared in a cameo at the beginning of the episode, and Humphrey Bogart played the starring role for this story. Due to the fact that both men had been dead for decades, their appearances made the episode very well known amongst fans. This episode was also notable for Isabella Rossellini's guest appearance in which she parodies her lookalike mother, Ingrid Bergman for the first and probably only time.


Two movies, Demon Knight (1995) and Bordello of Blood (1996), were made based on the series, neither of which was particularly successful. In 1993, a Saturday morning cartoon called Tales from the Cryptkeeper was made based off the series, with none of the violence or other questionable content that was in the original series making an appearance in it. A kid's game show called Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House was also spun off from the series. After the original series was cancelled, a spin-off called Perversions of Science premiered in 1997 on HBO, this time being based around science fiction instead of horror. The series only lasted for a short run, and was cancelled the same year.


Tales from the Crypt won the following awards:

* the 1991 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing - Television Half-Hour - ADR
* the 1992 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing - Television Episodic - Effects and Foley
* the 1993 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing - Television Episodic - Effects and Foley
* the 1994 American Cinema Editors' Eddie Award for Best Edited Half Hour Series for Television (for the episode "People Who Live in Brass Hearses")

It was also nominated for the following awards:

* the 1990 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (William Hickey in the episode "The Switch")
* the 1991 Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Cable Special (Mike Simmrin)
* the 1992 Casting Society of America's Artios Award for Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Episodic
* the 1994 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kirk Douglas)
* the 1994 American Cinema Editors' Eddie Award for Best Edited Half Hour Series for Television (for the episode "The Lipreader")
* the 1994 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Tim Curry in the episode "Death Of Some Salesman"), Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series
* the 1994 Young Artist Award for Best Youth Actor Guest Starring in a Television Show (Raushan Hammond)
* the 1995 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series
* the 1996 American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series (for the episode "You Murderer")

Technical data

* alternate title: HBO's Tales from the Crypt
* episodes: 93
* runtime: 30 minutes each episode
* sound: Dolby
* aspect ratio: 1.33 : 1
* series premiere: June 10, 1989

See also

* List of Tales from the Crypt episodes
* 1989 in television
* List of television programs

External links

* Tales from the Crypt at the Internet Movie Database
* Tales from the Cryptkeeper at the Internet Movie Database
* TV Tome entry for Tales from the Crypt
* All Movie Guide entry for Tales from the Crypt