Forty years is a long time in television, and paying tribute to an icon like Saturday Night Live will prove an extraordinary task for executive producer Lorne Michaels. The man who has been at the helm of SNL since its debut in 1975, with the exception of a five-year-period in the 1980s when Dick Ebersol called the shots, seems to have his work cut out for him. But as Michaels told the New York Post, picking and choosing who got to be a part of the celebration was not on the agenda.
“Everyone who [has been] a host was invited. Most musical acts from the [past] 40 years. And the casts [who lasted] more than one season… When people’s RSVPs started coming in, we began to write and put the show together.”
Deadline reported on Thursday that the show had to be stretched to three and a half hours simply to accommodate. Even Michaels seemed surprised at the willingness of stars to participate, calling the number of people who plan to come “overwhelming.” The list includes past greats such as Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Whoopi Goldberg, and Billy Crystal.
The special has gotten so big that, in addition to the three and a half hours of comedy, stars will be welcomed to the show on an awards-show style red carpet hosted by the Today show anchors. The red carpet is scheduled for a full hour before the special.
Laraine Newman, a member of the original cast, told Access Hollywood that she plans to take “a lot of selfies.”
Fans worried that show runners will simply dig out classic sketches from the archives can rest assured writers have been working as hard as the show’s librarians. Lorne Michaels has said SNL40 will not be a mere clip show. There will be new material to keep the audience interested and engaged.
In an interview with Today, Michaels seemed to let it slip that Steve Martin will have a part in opening the show. He said Martin called him to talk about the jokes in the monologue. Michaels also had an interesting insight when asked about critiques that the show is not as good as it once was.
“Generally when people talk about the best cast I think, ‘Well, that’s when they were in high school.’ Because in high school you have the least amount of power you’re ever gonna have… Staying up with friends later on a Saturday is great, and people attach to a cast.”
The SNL 40th anniversary special airs on NBC.
[Lorne Michaels image: Getty]