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Michaels currently serves as the program’s showrunner. The show’s comedy sketches , which often parody contemporary culture and politics, are performed by a large and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members.

Each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest, who usually delivers the opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast, with featured performances by a musical guest. An episode normally begins with a cold open sketch that ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming, ” Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!

In , Michaels left the series to explore other opportunities. He was replaced by Jean Doumanian , who was then replaced by Ebersol after a season of bad reviews. Ebersol ran the show until , when Michaels returned. Since then, Michaels has held the job of showrunner. Many SNL cast members have found national stardom while appearing on the show, and achieved success in film and television, both in front of and behind the camera.

Others associated with the show, such as writers, have gone on to successful careers creating, writing, and starring in television and film. Broadcast from Studio 8H at NBC’s headquarters in the Comcast Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza , SNL has aired episodes since its debut, and concluded its 47th season on May 21, , making it one of the longest-running network television programs in the United States.

The show format has been developed and recreated in several countries, meeting with different levels of success. Successful sketches have seen life outside the show as feature films including The Blues Brothers and Wayne’s World The show has been marketed in other ways, including home media releases of “best of” and whole seasons, and books and documentaries about behind-the-scenes activities of running and developing the show.

In , Johnny Carson announced that he wanted the weekend shows pulled and saved so they could be aired during weeknights, allowing him to take time off.

In , NBC president Herbert Schlosser approached his vice president of late night programming, Dick Ebersol , and asked him to create a show to fill the Saturday night time slot. According to Ebersol, consideration was given to Steve Martin and singer Linda Ronstadt also being included as a duo. Debuting on October 11, , [7] the show quickly developed a cult following , [13] eventually becoming a mainstream hit and spawning in “Best of Saturday Night Live ” compilations that reached viewers who could not stay awake for the live broadcasts.

But during the first season in and , some NBC executives were not satisfied with the show’s Nielsen ratings and shares. Baby boomers far outnumbered Generation X in reality but not in television viewership with the exception of Michaels’s new show and major league sports, and advertisers had long been concerned about baby boomers’ distaste for the powerful medium. NBC executives eventually understood Michaels’s explanation of the desirable demographics and they decided to keep the show on the air despite many angry letters and phone calls the network received from viewers who were offended by certain sketches.

They included a Weekend Update segment on April 24, , the 18th episode, that ridiculed Aspen, Colorado murder suspect Claudine Longet and warranted an on-air apology by announcer Don Pardo during the following episode. Chevy Chase left the show in November of the second season and was replaced a few months later by the then-unknown comic actor Bill Murray. Aykroyd and Belushi left the show in after the end of season four. In May after season five , Michaels—emotionally and physically exhausted—requested to put the show on hiatus for a year to give him time and energy to pursue other projects.

NBC president Fred Silverman disliked Franken and was infuriated by Franken’s Weekend Update routine called ” A Limo For A Lame-O “, a scathing critique of Silverman’s job performance at the network and his insistence on traveling by limousine at the network’s expense.

Silverman blamed Michaels for approving this Weekend Update segment. The reputation of the show as a springboard to fame meant that many aspiring stars were eager to join the new series. Doumanian faced resentment and sabotage from the remaining Michaels staff, particularly sexist men who did not appreciate a woman believing she could take Michaels’s place.

Tartikoff turned to Ebersol as his choice for the new producer. Ebersol previously had been fired by Silverman. Ebersol gained Michaels’s approval in an attempt to avoid the same staff sabotage that had blighted Doumanian’s tenure.

Ebersol’s tenure saw commercial success, but was considered lackluster compared to the Michaels era, except for the breakout of new cast member Eddie Murphy during the —81 sixth season. He broke with history by hiring established comedians such as Billy Crystal and Martin Short who could bring their already successful material to the show. The show was again recast, with Michaels borrowing Ebersol’s idea to seek out established actors such as Joan Cusack and Robert Downey Jr.

The show ran successfully again until it lost Carvey and Hartman, two of its biggest stars, between and Wanting to increase SNL ‘ s ratings and profitability, then-NBC West Coast president Don Ohlmeyer and other executives began to actively interfere in the show, recommending that new stars such as Chris Farley and Adam Sandler be fired because Ohlmeyer did not “get” them and critiquing the costly nature of performing the show live.

The show faced increasing criticism from the press and cast, in part encouraged by the NBC executives hoping to weaken Michaels’s position. Popular cast member Mike Myers left after five years, and Farley and Sandler, among others, were fired.

Capping it at 50 might not be a bad idea. Radner was the first person hired after Michaels himself. Although Chase became a performer, he was hired on a one-year writer contract and refused to sign the performer contract that was repeatedly given to him, allowing him to leave the show after the first season in After Chase left the show, he was replaced by Bill Murray, whom Michaels had intended to hire for the first-season cast but was unable to because of budget restrictions.

Murray, goaded by the rest of the cast, and Chase came to blows shortly before the show. Radner had a one-woman Broadway show and Murray starred in the comedy Meatballs. The Doumanian-era cast faced immediate comparison to the beloved former cast and was not received favorably.

Doumanian wanted only one black cast member and favored Townsend, but Levy convinced her to choose Murphy. Doumanian also claimed credit for discovering Murphy and fighting with NBC executives to bring him onto the show. Afraid of cast members leaving for film careers, Michaels had overcrowded the cast, causing a divide between the veteran members and the new, younger talent, increasing competition for limited screen time.

The show saw its next major overhaul, bringing in a largely new cast including Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri and Darrell Hammond. Within a few years, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey also joined the cast. Kenan Thompson is the show’s longest-serving cast member. Thompson first joined the series in and has been on the show for 19 years.

Of the many roles available in the show, one of the longest-running and most coveted is being the host of Weekend Update , a segment that has alternated between having one or two hosts and which allows the cast members involved to perform as themselves and be on camera for an extended period of time. However, later that year , she was replaced by writer Michael Che. The cast were often contracted from anywhere between five and six years to the show, [74] [75] but starting with the — season, new hires were tied to a rewritten contract that allowed NBC to take a cast member in at least their second year and put them in an NBC sitcom.

Cast members are given the option of rejecting the first two sitcom offers but must accept the third offer, with the sitcom contract length dictated by NBC and potentially lasting up to six years. The new contracts were reportedly developed after many previously unknown cast, such as Mike Myers and Adam Sandler , gained fame on SNL only to leave and make money for other studios.

Che has been a writer since He temporarily left the show in the summer of , but came back that fall to anchor Update and reclaimed his status as a writer. Seth Meyers became a co-head writer in , became the single head writer from to , and then left in The Weekend Update segment has its own dedicated team of writers led by head writer and producer Alex Baze as of the —12 season.

SNL writers are often also performers or experienced in writing and improvisational comedy. Like the SNL cast who appear on camera, many of the writers have been able to find their own success outside the show, such as Conan O’Brien , who was brought into SNL from The Groundlings in , went on to write for The Simpsons , and eventually began hosting his own show.

Don Pardo served as the announcer for the series when it began, and continued in the role for all but season seven, between and , when Michaels had left and Mel Brandt and Bill Hanrahan filled the announcing role. In , Pardo announced that he would step down from his position, but then continued in the role until where he again announced his retirement, but then continued into the —10 season.

In , then year-old Pardo was reported to be again considering his retirement, but continued to serve as announcer until his death at age 96 on August 18, , following the 39th season. Apart from a brief period in in which Pardo pre-recorded his announcements at his home in Arizona, he flew to New York City to perform his announcing duties live, until when he began recording permanently from Arizona. A typical episode of SNL will feature a single host chosen for their popularity or novelty, or because they have a film, album, or other work being released near the time of their appearance on the show.

So stick around, we’ll be right back. Each episode also features a musical guest, a solo act or a band, who perform two or three musical numbers. Occasionally, the musical guest simultaneously serves as the host, and may also appear in comedy sketches.

As of May 19, , Dave Grohl is the most frequent musical guest, performing on eleven shows since Exceptions are made only when the musical act is focused on intense dance routines instead of vocals, where it is difficult to be both heavily physically active and sing.

The December 18, episode, hosted by Paul Rudd , became the first episode not to feature any musical performances since the first episode of season 12 , as well as the third episode in the show’s duration to not have a musical guest, due to the rise of the Omicron variant in New York City during the ongoing COVID pandemic. XCX’s only appearance in the episode, however, was in the pre-recorded music video spoof called “The Christmas Socks”, where she played a parrot named T.

To make up for time and the lack of cast members, classic Christmas sketches are shown, with some sketches introduced by Tina Fey , Tom Hanks , and Kenan Thompson. Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore served as the first musical director, from to , appearing in many musical sketches, including Howard Shore and His All-Nurse Band and backing a U.

Smith musical director from to As of , the band is under the leadership of Tower of Power alumnus Lenny Pickett , keyboardist Leon Pendarvis , and Eli Brueggemann, who does not play in the band on the live show. The band plays instrumentals leading in and out of station breaks; affiliates who run no advertising during these interludes hear the band play complete songs behind a Saturday Night Live bumper graphic until the program resumes.

During the summer shooting hiatus, crews began renovations on Studio 8H. With its thirty-first-season premiere in October , the show began broadcasting in high-definition television , appearing letterboxed on conventional television screens. The offices of SNL writers, producers, and other staff can be found on the 17th floor of “30 Rock”. Production on an SNL episode will normally start on a Monday with a free-form pitch meeting [] [] [] between the cast, writers, producers, including Michaels and the guest host in Michaels’s office over two hours.

The host is invited to pitch ideas during this meeting. Although some sketch writing may occur on the day, the bulk of the work revolves around pitching ideas.

Tuesday is the only day dedicated purely to writing the scripts, [] a process that usually extends through the night into the following morning. Writing may not begin until 8 p. At this point, there may be at least forty sketch ideas that are read-through in turn, lasting upwards of three hours. After completion of the read-through, Michaels, the head writer, the guest host, and some of the show producers will move to Michaels’ office to decide the layout of the show and decide which of the sketches will be developed for air.

Once complete, the writers and cast are allowed into Michaels’s office to view the show breakdown and learn whether or not their sketch has survived. Work focuses on developing and rewriting the remaining sketches [] and possibly rehearsals.

According to an interview with Tina Fey in , the three- to four-member dedicated Weekend Update writing team will write jokes throughout the week. The host s of Weekend Update will normally not work with or read the scripts from the team until Thursday evening, after the main show sketches have been finalized.

The host s will then work on contributing to the script where necessary. With onsite facilities housed on floors 8 and 17 of Rockefeller Plaza, post-production duties on live broadcasts of Saturday Night Live include the mixing of audio and video elements by the Senior Audio Mixer, coupled with additional audio feeds consisting of music, sound effects, music scoring, and pre-recorded voiceovers.

All sources are stored digitally, with shows captured and segregated into individual elements to reorganize for future repeats and syndication. The production tracking system was migrated from primarily analog to digital in , with live shows typically requiring 1.



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