Saturday, August 26, 2006

DRAMA AT SNL

It's Saturday Night, and I thought I would acknowledge the behind-the-scenes dramatics taking place at Saturday Night Live.

It sounds like there are big changes happening at the show, with head writer Tina Fey gone to 30 Rock, Rachel Dratch leaving, and other assorted changes. There are supposed to be four cast regulars getting the boot and some names have leaked about who they are. Horatio Sanz, Kenan Thompson and Chris Parnell are supposed to be out, but Sanz in this story is denying it. Apparently these guys don't know if they're fired or not. They also say in that story that Maya Rudolph could be gone. They are also planning to have a new anchor at Weekend Update.

You know, this show always goes through these kinds of regenerative periods behind the scenes, and it always seems like the show hits some crisis point every few years. But it always works out for this show in the end. I think this is just another one of those transition periods for the show.

I also think that the main reason Lorne Michaels is making these changes has a lot to do with the overall sorry state of affairs at NBC-Universal. I heard the whole network is slashing budgets across the board, and it's all because this network has taken a bath in the ratings for two years straight. Plus, CNBC and MSNBC have had some terrible ratings numbers. Saturday Night Live is having to deal with all the same problems that have brought down the rest of the company. It just so happens that they have to deal with these problems at a moment in time when their head writer Tina Fey is quitting the show. So they now have their big excuse to go make big changes.

You know, NBC is supposed to have a show coming this fall, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which is sort of loosely based on the behind-the-scenes happenings at Saturday Night Live. Well, I've read all about the backstage stuff that has gone on at that show over the years, as chronicled in books like Live from New York and other accounts. There have been lots of firings at this show (ie. Adam Sandler, Norm Macdonald) and lots of people were brought in to try and rescue the show from the abyss. This show has come close to cancellation at least a couple of times over the years. About the only thing that saved the show was the fact that the NBC execs who happened to run things didn't want to go down in history as the people who killed Saturday Night Live.

Frankly, what's going on with the show right now is nothing compared to all that. There is no question about the show's survival, at least right now. Still, all I will say is that the fictional Studio 60 has a hard act to live up to with the real-life drama and behind-the-scenes happenings that have characterized Saturday Night Live.

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