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You are at the section Saturday Night Live

Intro of Show

Saturday Night Live (SNL) is a 90-minute NBC-TV show done live from New York City, on Saturday nights (11:30pm Eastern Time, 10:30 Central and taped for later broadcast in other time zones.)

Basically, each new season begins in the fall and lasts through mid May with some encore presentations along the way. About 22 new shows are done each year.

The cast of SNL consists of a half-dozen to a dozen castmembers, and sometimes a few additional supporting "featured" players that are not part of the so-called main lineup. Each episode is "hosted" by a different celebrity and features performances by a musical guest, but sometimes, one of the main players hosts the show.

The basic show follows the format:

  • The episode begins with a cold opening (a segment that precedes the opening credits) that culminates in the aforementioned opening phrase ("Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" or some variant thereof).
  • After the credits roll, the host delivers a monologue, which may be followed by a fake commercial (an ad for a non-existent product).
  • After a couple of skits comes either the news report (one or more anchorpersons and guest correspondents make light of current events) and a performance by the musical guest, and these may flip-flop, but the news segment usually follows the first of two station identification breaks, you know, where you see your local station proudly proclaim "NBC 4", then cut to the network.
  • The rest of the show consists of more skits (or other comedy pieces), another song by the musical guest, and occasionally a short film.

    A Brief History of SNL

    What is an era? An era is about a five-year chunk that's dominated by several key SNL players in a short time span. The program's history breaks down fairly readily into five-year chunks. The end of an era is typically marked by a drastic change in the composition of the cast.

    Note that each season, such as 75-76, etc, are ID'd by the fall year such as 75.

    The Classic Era: 1975-80

    The 1975 cast consisted of Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner. Bill Murray joined the cast during 1976-77 after Chase left that October. Harry Shearer and some featured players were added when Aykroyd and Belushi left after May 1979. The producer for that era was Lorne Michaels.

    The Murphy/Piscopo Era: 1980-85

    (editor's note: This SNL The First Five section covers only the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live. We plan to expand that in the future, but for now, we're just going to build the site within the first five and expand it later. The later eras descriptions are included for further expansion.) This era began with an inept new producer (Jean Doumanian) and an entirely new cast. 1980-81 was something of a disaster, though, by Fall of 81, Dick Ebersol had taken over for the dismissed Doumanian and replaced all of her cast except Eddie Murphy, who became a regular during the first year of the era, and Joe Piscopo. Those two talents (combined with a cast that included Mary Gross, Tim Kazurinsky, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) made the show respectable again. 1984 saw the addition of Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Martin Short (in part to replace the departed Murphy & Piscopo), plus the return of Harry Shearer for one season.

    The Fast 1980s Era: 1985-90

    Lorne Michaels returned to produce the show and selected an all-new cast. Though only Nora Dunn, Jon Lovitz, and Dennis Miller carried over from 1985, the 1986 additions of Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, and Kevin Nealon all stuck with the show for an extended period of time. Mike Myers joined as a featured player in 1988 and graduated to full castmember status in 1989.

    The Succession Era: 1990-95

    Though five years had passed, the show didn't undergo its usual cast purge, nor was there a producer change. Instead, the preceding era cast gradually left the show while new members joined. The new faces included Ellen Cleghorne, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Julia Sweeney. Norm MacDonald, Mark McKinney, and Molly Shannon were among the later additions.

    The Millenium Era and Beyond: 1995-?

    As with the preceding era, the start of the new era didn't feature a completely new cast; Spade, Meadows, MacDonald, McKinney, and Shannon returned. However, many new faces have been added. Jim Breuer, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Cheri Oteri, Chris Kattan, Ana Gasteyer, and Tracy Morgan. Many more have come and gone since then. Lorne Michaels is still the producer as of 2008.

    SNL Transformations

    Dress Rehearsal

    On Saturday evening, a run-through of the night's show is executed. This dress rehearsal is used to select the format for the actual live broadcast (the order of the segments may be juggled, and some bits may be cut).

    The Live Show

    This is what's seen by the general public. Viewers on the West coast actually get a tape-delayed version (which is occasionally edited to eliminate profane or controversial elements).

    The NBC Rerun

    Each episode is normally rerun on NBC within a year of its original broadcast date. This version is not necessarily identical to the live show, as various edits may be implemented (segments are sometimes rearranged, version 1 material may be replaced by version 0 material, etc.). Some material may be deleted entirely for time constraint reasons.

    Syndication and Cable

    At the present time, the syndicated SNLs are being shown on a cable network. Check titantv.com for the channel.

    These 30 minute or 60-minute versions of the shows sometimes contain less material than the previous versions of the episodes.

    The 1975-80 syndication package (titled "The Best of Saturday Night") is composed of 30-minute long shows that rarely include the musical guests' performances, guess for royalty reasons, and only occasionally have the cold opening and/or monologue.

    Though Comedy Central does show some full-length episodes from the later eras, shows from those seasons are frequently cut to 60 minutes.

    These reduced-length airings usually do contain the cold opening, monologue, and musical performances.

    Other SNL Information

    Each segment in the program guide has the following codes preceding the
    sketch, performance, or whatever:
    cold=the cold opening
    mono=the monologue done by the guest
    comm=the fake commercial
    skit=any other skit seen on the show
    show=a television show parody
    song=a musical performance from one of the guests
    news=a news item from the Weekend Update/SNL News segment.
    misc=miscellaneous item

    Cast Codes

    Listed to the left are the three-letter codes assigned for reporting purposes

    The Regulars and Featured Players

    MOD Michael O'Donoghue   1975
    GEC George Coe           1975
    CHC Chevy Chase          1975-76
    DAA Dan Aykroyd          1975-79
    JOB John Belushi         1975-79
    JAC Jane Curtin          1975-80
    GAM Garrett Morris       1975-80
    LAN Laraine Newman       1975-80
    GIR Gilda Radner         1975-80
    BIM Bill Murray          1977-80
    PEA Peter Aykroyd        1980
    TOD Tom Davis            1980
    JID Jim Downey           1980
    PAS Paul Shaffer         1980
    BDM Brian Doyle-Murray   1980, 1981
    HAS Harry Shearer        1979-80, 1984-85
    DON Don Novello          1978-80, 1985-86
    ALF Al Franken           1978-80, 1985-94
    YVH Yvonne Hudson        1980
    MIK Mitchell Kriegman    1980
    MAL Matthew Laurance     1980
    PAW Patrick Weathers     1980
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    Saturday Night Live Intro - Saturday Night Live About Saturday Night Live Section SNL Episode Guide Saturday Night Live Instant Video Seasons 1-5 Saturday Night Live DVD Saturday Night Live DVDs-Details Intro of Show SNL Episodes Review: 1975-76 Season SNL Episodes Review: 1976-77 Season SNL Episodes Review: 1977-78 Season SNL Episodes Review: 1978-79 Season SNL Episodes Review: 1979-80 Season SNL Compilations By Player SNL Compilations by Player DVDs 1 SNL Compilations by Player DVDs 2 SNL Compilations by Player DVDs 3 SNL Compilations by Player DVDs 4 SNL Compilations by Player DVDs 5 SNL Compilations by Player DVDs 6 Incomplete Bios Bios: Dan Aykroyd Bios: John Belushi Bios: Chevy Chase Bios: Jane Curtin Bios: Al Franken Bios: Garrett Morris Bios: Bill Murray Bios: Laraine Newman Bios: Gilda Radner Bios: Harry Shearer Bios: Other's Characters Guest Hosts Saturday Night Live Audio Part of Cast in Movies Musical Guests 1975-1980 Related Links Network
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