Saturday, November 18, 2017

SNL Week- Saturday: It All Comes Together

On Saturday it all comes together. Runthroughs occur, Weekend Update is still being written, sets are finalized. At 7PM, the first audience is seated and the filmed dress rehearsal takes place. At this point, Lorne Michaels will make a final determination about the sketches that will be used on the live show and in which order they will occur. Typically the dress rehearsal runs long, though occasionally the sketches cut from the show will result in a show that will run short. In these instances, Lorne will plug in filmed sequences that are often repeats. This dress rehearsal is filmed just in case something goes wrong during the live show. In these instances, the dress rehearsal version of the sketch will be used in reruns.

At 11:30PM, the show is live, now coast to coast. From this point on, it is mostly smooth sailing, though there is the added stress of knowing that they’re now live in front of millions. Soon enough, it’s time to say goodnight. The cast, crew and guests will then shuffle off to a spirited after party located in the city that never sleeps. Then it is off to bed- possibly to rest up for Monday- when it probably starts up again.

Friday, November 17, 2017

SNL Week- Friday: Getting it together

Fridays are the beginning of the various rehearsals. A few sketches might get cut at this point, but the majority of them will continue to get polished and refined. Sets and specialized props will get finalized and wardrobe choices solidified. By this point, the entire SNL machinery is in gear to get things ready for the ninety minute broadcast.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

SNL Week- Thursday: Building the Show

Thursdays at Saturday Night Live are a flurry of activity. While set decorators busily get things ready for the show and work out logistics, the writers are finishing up their polished scripts. Pre-filmed sequences are recorded and promotional spots are taped. As the sketch writing is finished up, rehearsals begin. The final show is beginning to take shape.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

SNL Week- Wednesday: The Read-Through

On Wednesdays, the cast and writers sit around a table and begin reading through the sketches. This is the first time that the guest host typically sees the full sketches in their written format. Lorne and his production team sift through the sketches and determine which ones should go through and which ones get tossed. The approved sketches will fall into two piles- ones that are good as-is and ones that need further polishing. (Most sketches fall into the latter pile.) Since most writers will see their scripts cut at this point, they will often partner with another writer to begin the process of polishing an approved sketch.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

SNL Week- Tuesday: Sketch Writing Begins

While some Saturday Night Live writers begin writing immediately after Monday’s Pitch session, most of the writers start working on Tuesday. From here on out, staffers are in a race against time- all of the sketches approved at the Monday Pitch session are supposed to be completed by Wednesday. This often leads to the writers and cast pulling all-nighters to get the sketches finished in time. 

If a potential Sketch requires an elaborate set, it is typically due on Tuesday to give the set decorators a head start and begin working on building the set. Additionally, any sketch requiring pre-filming also has a Tuesday deadline so that the crew can begin figuring out the logistics. In any case, the sketches being written today will be seen by millions in just a few days.

Monday, November 13, 2017

SNL Week- Monday: The Pitch

Since 1975, Saturday Night Live has been making people laugh on a previously dead night of television. The tried and true formula for making the show was created by Lorne Michaels and was even used during his five year absence. This week, we’ll walk you through the day to day process of making one of television’s longest running shows.

On a new show week, the host will arrive at 30 Rock and get personally greeted by Lorne. The host will be whisked into Lorne’s office for a private meeting; if the host is a newbie, Lorne will fill him or her in on what to expect over the next week and get a feel for their comfort level. If the host is an SNL veteran, the meeting might just be a quick exchange of pleasantries. 

Once the host meeting is over, the SNL cast and writers will descend upon Lorne’s office, filling every available seat and space. Lorne will introduce the host, mention any rules he or she might have, let him or her speak about their hopes for the week, then throw things open to the cast and writers who are then given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Lorne, the room and more importantly, the host. Over the next few hours, Lorne and the host will filter the ideas down to a manageable level. By the end of the meeting, the writers will have their marching orders and begin fleshing out their sketch ideas.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

“Beane’s of Boston”

In 1979, Garry Marshall bought the American rights for the BBC show Are You Being Served? and wanted to make it a sitcom for CBS. The pilot had been considered “lost” for years but it has recently resurfaced.

The show starred John Hillerman as Captain Peacock and Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Slocombe.

The pilot was apparently an adaptation of the original show’s German Week episode. 

CBS passed on the show. Both John Hillerman and Charlotte Rae would go on to take the roles that would define their careers. John Hillerman in Magnum, PI and Charlotte Rae in The Facts of Life.