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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)
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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.


History

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

Cast

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.

Contracts

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?)


Trivia

* 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!
* alt.tv.snl, Google's interface to a long-lived SNL fan's Usenet group
* SNL infos on IMDB

Fansites

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

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