George Carlin’s Final Gift

Saturday Night Live aired a repeat, as scheduled. What changed was which repeat. This week was the first Saturday Night, episode one before they added the word “Live.” George Carlin was host.

snl-title.jpgIf I hadn’t read a story about George Carlin’s memorial, I wouldn’t have known what Lorne Michaels did this past Saturday. Saturday Night Live aired a repeat, as scheduled. What changed was which repeat. This week was the first Saturday Night, episode one before they added the word “Live.” George Carlin was host.

not-ready.jpgIt was 1975. Don Pardo mistakenly called them, “The Not For Ready Prime Time Players.” On they went. There they were–Chevy, Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Garrett Morris, Jane, Laraine, Gilda and George Coe. George Coe? Trust me, you’d recognize him in a second. He’s been in everything, especially commercials.

chevy.jpgBilly Preston and Janis Ian performed. So did Valri Bromfield and Andy Kaufman. Michael O’Donaghue, among the strangest people ever, was there too. Franken and Davis, Alan Zweibel and Herb Sargent were writers. Davey Wilson, later with Letterman, directed.

Maybe there’s something to be learned. The bits were shorter. That worked. On the other hand, there was less comedy and more music. The mix is better now.

The audio was awful and very hollow. From what I can hear on my speakers, it’s obvious the house PA was also terrible.

I love Albert Brooks. He had a film. Albert Brooks was a fixture of the early Saturday Night (Live). This was a takeoff of old newsreels. Very funny.

Valri Bromfield. Really? Terrible.

During “Weekend Update” Chevy said, “I’m Chevy Chase,” but not “and you’re not.” He also did a very old one-liner. To paraphrase, “The Post Office has a new stamp commemorating prostitution. It’s 15&#162. A quarter if you lick it.”

Jim Henson’s Muppets appeared. They were regulars on the first few shows. The bit was not a success. They were victims of the bad audio. The studio audience was silent as the bit played out.

This was by no means a perfect show. It was uncharted territory–a show unlike any other. The seeds were planted that night, October 11, 1975. Back then, it was amazing to watch.

Blogger’s note – Not that it matters, but I was at the next SNL, the following Saturday. My friend Paul, through his friend Jim, got me the tickets. Art Garfunkel was there and it was pretty terrible. At least I can say I was there.

Broadcast News

I just finished watching the second half of one of my all time favorite movies. There’s no doubt I love Broadcast News because of Holly Hunter and Albert Brooks and the characters they portray.

There’s little I don’t like about Hunter. She’s very attractive, though not quite as attractive as the character she plays here.

In one of the early scenes (maybe the first – it was on before I tuned in tonight) she walks up to a bank of curbside newspaper vending boxes and buys a paper from each one. So, she’s attractive, intelligent, aggressive and principled… the total package.

Albert Brooks plays an intellectual, nerdy reporter. His inability to deal with any transgression from idealism is his undoing.

When I first saw the movie, I saw myself in much of what Brooks played. Maybe, I flatter myself too much.

There was a time when I would stand on principle no matter what the consequences. Now, I’m more willing to balance my reaction. That’s good and bad. Bad, because it means I let stuff slide. Good in that I’m not confrontational to the same extent I was earlier in my life.

It is a more adult way to deal with the imperfections of life. It is not a better way – just an adult way.

Toward the end of the picture, as Brooks is losing Holly Hunter (and my heart is breaking for him), he talks about the devil. His purpose in the film is to lessen (the character played by) William Hurt. Still, it’s a great speech.

Paraphrasing – the devil looks like us. The devil doesn’t act in broad strokes but eats away at the moral high ground a little bit at a time. It’s an impassioned speech based on the fears of the idealistic. It’s sad because it’s so true.

Broadcast News made broadcast news look quite romantic. It actually is.

Though I work much farther down the food chain than the second rate national network portrayed, it’s still a cool profession. There are few jobs where you are watched, while you work by your ‘customers’. So much of individual success depends on the public’s trust in you. The most successful are those who value that trust.

In broadcast news, idealism is not misplaced. It’s just in short supply.