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Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live [Hardcover]

Doug Hill , Jeff Weingrad
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1989
Saturday Night is the intimate history of the original Saturday Night Live, from its beginnings as an outlaw program produced by an unruly band of renegades from the comedy underground to a TV institution that made stars of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy. This is the book that revealed to the world what really happened behind the scenes during the first ten years of this groundbreaking program, from the battles SNL fought with NBC to the battles fought within the show itself. It's all here: The love affairs, betrayals, rivalries, drug problems, overnight successes, and bitter failures, mixed with the creation of some of the most outrageous and original comedy ever. "It reads like a thriller," said the Associated Press, "and may be the best book ever written about television." "An anthropological masterpiece." - Vanity Fair "A chilling real-life cliffhanger." -Washington Post
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

Bold and irreverent, NBC's Emmy-winning Saturday Night Live produced many stars (Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin and others) and redefined the limits of TV comedy. In this absorbing account, based on 250 interviews, the authors successfully recreate the chaotic backstage scene where writers and performers from the comedy underground of the 1970s created an "outlaw" show for a generation raised on TV and rock 'n' roll. The on-air shenanigans pale in comparison to much of the manic behavior reported here: frantic last-minute changes in sketches; rivalries between stars; battles with censors; run-ins with more conventional network crews and security guards. At once serious (explaining how "amateurs" managed to break TV's comedic rules) and gossipy (drugs, brawls, etc.), this bright history is bound to please many. Hill and Weingrad have written individually about TV for numerous publications. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

An engrossing, compulsively readable history of the late-night television show, from the early struggle to get it accepted by the network to its most recent incarnation with the return of original producer Lorne Michaels. The book is well written and detailed, and the authors interviewed more than 200 people connected with the show. Most interesting are the first few seasons, when Saturday Night was truly innovative and blessed with the Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players and more daring writers. Excerpts from skits punctuate the text, and most are still funny. As the show loses its cult status and goes big-time, however, the story becomes a depressing account of rampant egotism, drug abuse, and, ultimately, the end of SNL 's originality and excitement. For social history and media collections. Judith Sutton, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A review of SNL's first ten years July 12 2004
Here's everything that happened during the first ten seasons of NBC's late night comedy-variety show Saturday Night Live. There are ten faces of previous cast members on the cover. They are the 7 original members Dan Aykroyd,John Belushi,Chevy Chase,Jane Curtin,Garrett Morris,Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner. The other three are Bill Murray,who came shortly after Chase's departure,Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy,who were both cast members from 1980 to 1984. The book even tells about the cast members' post-SNL experiences and credits. During the first 10 years,SNL had three producers:Lorne Michaels(1975-1980 and 1985 to present),Jean Doumanian(1980-81) and Dick Ebersol(1981-1985). Michaels left with the remainder of the original SNL cast with Murray in tow as well,in 1980 and returned five years later. Doumanian was fired after the disasterous 1980-81 season and was succeeded by Ebersol. Ebersol met actress Susan Saint-James when she guest hosted once in 1981. They were later married and still are today. We won't forget other previous cast members such as Gilbert Gottfried,Robin Duke,Tim Kazurinsky,Brian Doyle Murray(Bill's brother),Billy Crystal who almost became an original member,Martin Short,Joan Cusack,Julia Louis-Dreyfus,Harry Shearer and James Belushi(John's brother). For more information on subsequent seasons,check out SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE-THE FIRST 20 YEARS.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on SNL Jan. 15 2004
The first and best book on SNL is a very detailed and close up look at the show.
Lots of details on the management from Michaels through to Doumanian to Ebersol are presented. The book covers their relations with NBC in detail, and on through the development and strategy of the show, production changes. At lot of space is dedicated to the creative side and to the cast of outstanding players including the most popular players being (alphabetically) Aykroyd, Belushi, Chase, Curtin, Franken and Davis, Morris, Murphy, Murray, O'Donoghue, Radner, and all the others. The "others" includes amny people that went on to have fabulous careers themselves such as Marty Short and Billy Crystal to name just two. The book follows many of the characters careers on the show giving a brief summary of how they were hired, how they fit into the cast, the dynamics, their contributions, what they did outside the show while being a cast member, and when and why they left, and what happened to them afterwards. It is all quite a comprehensive effort.
There are many humorous stories on how the players interacted and how the shows came together to produce specific plots and memorable scenes. Also the book gives some attention to the musical guests and the guest hosts. Of course the primary writers are followed along with the players and their roles leading up to each show - all in a wild pressure cooker environment of drugs and crazy hours, re-writes and set changes - that drove the NBC brass crazy.
A great book with lots of information and three sets of photos covering the evolution of the cast. A book that is hard to put down once you start to read.
Five stars - the 10 year story in 500 pages of compelling reading.
Jack in Toronto
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An excellent book, in terms of its breadth and the behind-the-scenes perspective it gives to the Saturday Night Live episodes we have all seen on TV. The writers certainly did their homework, and yet the scores of names, dates, and places mentioned never bog down the flow of this story. It is fascinating to read about the clashes between these stars who were both comic geniuses and petulant egomaniacs, and frankly, it is surprising that any episodes were able to air at all. Despite what you think about Saturday Night Live, you cannot deny the show's existence as a television institution, and reading this book makes you appreciate its innovation then, and longevity now, all the more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on SNL I've ever read. Sept. 28 1999
By A Customer
If you are ever interested in Saturday Night Live, this is the book for you. Chronicling the years between 1974-1985, this gives an interesting insight on the lives and careers of Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Eddie Murphy and others. A must read for all SNL fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars For all you boomers out there March 31 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great history of SNL and the growings pains associated with the show, it's people (in front and back of the lenses) and the ones who took a chance in broadcasting this now iconic program.
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