Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Behind The Scenes At SNL

In LA, a bit after the regular SNL rerun, they have "classic" SNL rerun--the full 90 minute shows. In the last two weeks, I've seen two episodes that are of historical interest.

This week, I saw a 1970s episode hosted by Kate Jackson. The conceit of the episode was, at the behest of Fred Silverman (who was then running NBC, which wasn't doing well, and had previously programmed ABC), "Angel" Jackson was going undercover as part of Silverman's plan to sabotage NBC.

John Belushi portrayed Silverman. Allegedly, Belushi was so sick (due to fever and, again, allegedly, drug use) that he couldn't go on, and producer Lorne Michaels had to push him out. I believe it. Belushi's voice is hoarse, almost a whisper. He's less energetic than usual. At least he makes it through the show. The rest of the episode features some decent sketches (why not--they still have a healthy Aykroyd, Murray and Radner, among others) and there's a nice appearance by Andy Kaufman.

Last week, I saw a mid-80s episode with host Griffin Dunne. In the "Mr. Monopoly" sketch, Jon Lovitz plays the character on the Monopoly cards (whom they call--incorrectly--Mr. Monopoly) and Griffin Dunne is his criminal client. Mr. Monopoly gets Dunne out of police clutches via a "get out of jail free" card.

What is interesting about this sketch is Damon Wayans as Cop #2. It's not much of a part and Wayans decided, at the last second, to make him gay. It doesn't really make any sense and gets in the way of the sketch. Apparently, producer Michaels was so angry that he fired Wayans, which may have been what Wayans wanted.

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