I'm a desperate ratings ploy ... and you're not: NBC spins off SNL's "Weekend Update"
Announcer:From Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, it's "Weekend Update," with Team WalletPop!
[Cheers and applause]
Hello, we're WalletPop, and here's tonight's top story:
The New York Times reports that NBC will spin off Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" segment, hosted by SNL head writer Seth Meyers, into as many as 13 half-hour prime-time specials in the fall.
NBC's move comes in a heated season of rivalry among the big four networks and pre-empts Fox's anticipated announcement this week that it will hire Billy Mays to host a series of one-hour Slanket infomercials.
Commenting on the spinoff, Saturday Night Live founder Lorne Michaels was quoted as saying, "The new show will accurately predict all the jokes that viewers will be passing around in Twitter feeds three days before our show hits the air."
Michaels added, "Off the record, this was really our Plan B. We had some technical issues with our Plan A: a great little pilot we were going to call Extreme Seance: Belushi."
Okay, but you loved the Slanket joke. [Laughter, cheers]Inside sources ... [Giggling, audience laughter, applause]
Inside sources also report that a high-ranking NBC executive, Jack Donaghy, recommended the spinoff as a ratings ploy. Donaghy's past ratings failures have included Olympic tetherball, synchronized running and octuples tennis.
Under Michaels's direction, Saturday Night Live has had a long and storied history since 1975. Writers for the new Weekend Update reportedly are weighing the possibility of reviving the show's best-known catchphrases from the 1970s, including "I'm Chevy Chase ... and you're not," Gilda Radner's "Ohhhh ... never mind," and an unidentified producer's "John, can't you wait until we're off the air before you fire that up?"
Some industry analysts condemned the timing of NBC's announcement, which comes just months after the end of George W. Bush's two terms in the White House -- an era considered by many to be an unprecedented eight-year run of comedy gold.
In related news, financial advisers at NBC are recommending that the company immediately dump all of its holdings in General Motors, A.I.G., Enron, and Branniff Airways.
Critics also complained that the announcement seems ill-timed for last month's nationwide tax protests. But hey, c'mon -- I know those "teabagging" jokes will still feel fresh when it's time for fall sweeps!
NBC says the spinoff is part of a larger plan to make its TV schedule less confusing to its audience. Along with its new Weekend Update, NBC's Today will air every day between sunrise and sunset, followed byThe Tonight Show, which, quote, "won't stop" 'til the, quote, "break of dawn."
Meet the Pressis also getting a makeover, and a new title: That Boring Show Your Dad Used to Watch Every Sunday Morning Until Russert Passed Away.
Weekend Update has long been regarded as a surefire path to fame and comic immortality for such stars as Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. [Applause] Here to discuss that theme is formerWeekend Update host Norm MacDonald.
[Sustained applause as camera pans to empty chair. Camera remains for 10 seconds, then pans back to WalletPop, speaking to earpiece]:
What? You're kidding. But you said you'd find him in time for the show!
[Addressing viewers]Ladies and gentlemen, we're sorry but it seems we couldn't locate our guest commentator. Apparently he's decided he'd like to keep an even lower profile.[Laughter]He's decided he'd like to run as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate next year against former Republican Sen. Arlen Specter.
Norm MacDonald, everyone!
The N.A.A.C.P. applauded NBC's decision to expand theWeekend Update franchise. Said a spokesman: "If there's one thing this country never gets enough of, it's seeing Fred Armisen telling jokes in blackface."
[Groans, cheers, applause]
And finally tonight -- a touching note, in a spirit of fake-news camaraderie: Comedy Central's reigning kings, Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert ofThe Colbert Report, congratulated NBC on itsWeekend Updateplans. Both Stewart and Colbert have pledged to airlift any rejected surplus jokes to the offices of 30 Rock.
For WalletPop'sWeekend Update, we're Tom Barlow, Evan Benn, Jason Cochran, Aaron Crowe, Sarah Gilbert, Steven Gladstone, Todd Pruzan, Julie Tilsner, Martha C. White and Geoff Williams. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.
[Cheers and applause as staff dances to theme music. Fade.]