The Hollywood Reporter has an intriguing look today at Saturday Night Live’s reactionary leftwing politics, both onstage and off.
When Don Pardo, SNL’s venerable announcer passed away this week, I was reminded that while I haven’t watched an entire episode of Saturday Night Live since the late Phil Hartman left the now-ancient series in 1994, I loved the show’s first five seasons — there was simply nothing else like it when it debuted, even if the misses greatly outweighed the hits. So in a way, I’m glad that its creator, Lorne Michaels, who is still with SNL, has what is essentially a comfortable NBC-funded retirement plan, no matter how unwatchable his current product is.
Robert Smigel, writer: It wasn’t until my last season that the network refused to air a “TV Funhouse.” It was a live-action one that was meant to be about racism and profiling, an airline-safety video with multilingual narration, and whenever you heard a different language, they would cut to people of that nationality. First, typical white Americans, then a Latino family, then a Japanese family, all being instructed about seat belts, overhead compartments, et cetera. Then it cuts to an Arab man, and the narrator says, in Arabic, “During the flight, please do not blow up the airplane. The United States is actually a humanitarian nation that is rooted in the concept of freedom,” and so on. … When the standards people freaked, Lorne fought them. Standards pushed back hard. They even got someone at NBC human resources to condemn it. … Lorne said, “I have a plan.” Obama was doing a cameo in the cold open. Lorne told me he would show my sketch to Obama. “If Obama thinks it’s OK, they won’t be able to argue it.” I thought it was a brilliant idea, except why would Obama ever give this thing his blessing? What if word got out? “Hey, everybody, that guy over there said it was cool. The one running for president of the country.” But I loved Lorne for caring this much and being willing to go that far to get this thing on TV.
Michaels: Obama said, “It’s funny, but no, I don’t think so.”