Ed Driscoll

Long Knives Come Out at NBC for Brian Williams

One of these things is not like the others:

[Saturday Night Live creator/producer Lorne Michaels’ style during the early days of SNL] was epitomized to the crew by his habit of strolling around the set with a glass of white wine in his hand. The wine had been the cause of a heated row with unit-manager boss Steve Weston. Lorne felt NBC ought to pay for it since it was there to be shared with staff and guests, but Weston refused, citing as his reason an RCA policy prohibiting liquor in the building (a policy that was violated with impunity in the offices of the company’s executives). Lorne eventually got his wine, a nice Chablis Grand Cru at about $144 the case [in 1975], according to the unit manager who approved the invoices. The cost was hidden in the show’s prop budget. Members of the crew would watch Lorne walk by, holding his chilled glass properly, by the stem to avoid warming the wine, and say that this must be his way of letting people know who the producer was.


—Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad, Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, 1986. (After an early 1980s leave of absence, Michaels of course returned to produce SNL in the mid-1980s, and is now also executive producer for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Named by Business Insider as one of the “11 exclusive clubs Wall Streeters are dying to get into,” the Grand Havana Room is where power brokers and celebrities hobnob with captains of industry in one of the last places where it’s still legal to smoke in the Big Apple.

Immune as I am to the seductions of class resentment and Jacobin envy, I will admit it: I love the place. If invited, and if I could afford it, I’d join.

The one question I have is: Who’s paying for Al Sharpton’s membership?

“The Rev” is an omnipresent member of the club. After his MSNBC show, he’ll swing by for dinner and cigars amid the other Masters of the Universe. I couldn’t confirm that he repaired there after he broadcast his radio show, Keeping It Real, from Zuccotti Park to show his solidarity with the 99-percenters.

The reason I ask who’s paying for his membership is that Sharpton’s relationship with money has always been complicated. When he claimed he didn’t have the resources to pay damages in a defamation suit he lost, Sharpton was asked in a deposition how he could afford his suits. He didn’t own them, he replied, someone else did. He was merely granted “access” to the garments as needed. The same went for his TV, silverware, etc.


— “Al Sharpton, Posh Populist,” Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online, July 19, 2013. (As the Smoking Gun asks today, “So, What About Rev. Al Sharpton’s Suspension?”

The trouble doesn’t stop there for Williams, who also allegedly vied for the desk of The Tonight Show: a source told New York that NBC was also investigating his expense accounts for reasons unknown.

“NBC Reportedly Has ‘Dossier’ of Brian Williams Lies; Investigating His Expense Accounts,” Mediaite, today.

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