Weekend Update


Weekend Update

"Weekend Update" is a "Saturday Night Live" sketch which comments on and parodies current events. It is the show's longest running recurring sketch, having been on since the show's first broadcast, and is typically presented in the middle of the show immediately after the first musical performance. One or two of the players are cast in the role of news anchor, presenting gag news items based on current events and acting as host(s) for occasional editorials, commentaries, or other performances by other cast members or guests. It is often credited with pioneering the fake news format that has since been adapted by many shows worldwide, such as "The Daily Show" and Canada's long-running "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," although there was a similar "news" segment regularly featured on the 1960s TV show "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In".

In the beginning

Chevy Chase (1975–1976)

"The Weekend Update" was created by original anchor Chevy Chase and "SNL" writer Herb Sargent, and appeared on the first "SNL" broadcast on October 11, 1975. Chase popularized several catch phrases during the segment, such as his "I'm Chevy Chase and you're not" greeting, which parodied WABC-TV anchor Roger Grimsby's opening catchphrase: "Good evening, I'm Roger Grimsby, here now the news."; and his repeated announcement that "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead." In addition, the practice of a picture insert of a person simultaneously giving the news read in sign language for the hearing impaired was parodied by Garrett Morris. Chase would sometimes repeat the top story at the end of the segment, while Morris simply cupped his mouth and shouted the headline more loudly. He would also end the segment with the line "That's the news, goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow." The closing line originally came from "The Groove Tube", a sketch comedy film Chase had a minor role in in 1974.

Jane Curtin (1976–1980)

Jane Curtin replaced Chase a few shows into Season 2 when he left in 1976 and remained as anchor until 1980. Curtin finished Season 2 solo, but was paired with co-anchors Dan Aykroyd (1977–1978) and Bill Murray (1978–1980). A frequent feature of "Update" during this time was "Point-Counterpoint", in which Curtin and Aykroyd made vicious and humorously inappropriate ad hominem attacks on each other's positions on a variety of topics, in a parody of the "60 Minutes" segment of the same name which pitted conservative James J. Kilpatrick and liberal Shana Alexander during the 1970s. Another possible impetus for this recurring bit were the nightly op-ed debates on New York station WNEW-TV's "The 10 O'Clock News" between conservative Dr. Martin Abend and liberal Professor Sidney Offit which also aired during this period. Aykroyd regularly began his reply with "Jane, you ignorant slut," which became another of the many "SNL" catch phrases (Curtin frequently began her reply with, "Dan, you pompous ass"). Other popular running features were John Belushi giving editorials which become increasingly hysterical until he is raving at the end (even though that feature started on Chase's tenure late in season 1); Gilda Radner's characters Emily Litella launching a tirade on a subject she misheard, and again as Roseanne Roseannadanna, giving obnoxiously irrelevant editorials. (see also Saturday Night Live characters appearing on Weekend Update). During Curtin's tenure as host, she opened each "Weekend Update" segment with Grimsby's "Here now the news" sign-on, and closed with Chase's "That's the news, goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow."

After Lorne Michaels

Charles Rocket (1980–1981)

Much like the rest of "SNL", the segment floundered somewhat after the departure of the original cast and producer Lorne Michaels in 1980. Charles Rocket (later teamed with Gail Matthius) anchored during the ill-fated one-season tenure of new executive producer Jean Doumanian. Although he had experience as a real anchorman, Rocket came across on-air as boorish, stiff and cocky. His closing line after each Update was the clever "I'm Charles Rocket. Good night and watch out". After Rocket was fired from the show in 1981, he appeared one final time for the March 7, 1981 broadcast. "Weekend Update" received a name and set change for this single episode (hosted by Bill Murray) in which it became SNL NewsLine. For this final episode of the Charles Rocket era, it was hosted by Rocket alone, without Matthius. The following April, Chevy Chase hosted the show, and anchored "WU" on April 11, 1981, the final show of the sixth season (he had done the same during his two previous times hosting, in 1978 and 1980).

"SNL Newsbreak" (1981–1982)

[
left|thumb|Brian Doyle-Murray anchoring "Weekend Update".]
Dick Ebersol, executive producer of "SNL" from 1981 to 1985, did not make the renamed "SNL Newsbreak" segment a high priority. The anchor position changed hands frequently, especially during the 1981 season which saw anchor Brian Doyle-Murray teamed first with Mary Gross, then going solo for three months, then back with Mary Gross for one more month before finally being teamed with Christine Ebersole for the remainder of the season. However, both Doyle-Murray and Ebersole were gone by the next year.

"Saturday Night News"

Brad Hall (1982–1983)

Brad Hall took over the desk of "Saturday Night News" (as it came to be known) for the 1982 and most of the 1983 season. Though he could master the straightforward delivery style of actual news anchors, he was at best mildly received by the audience. Ebersol quietly toyed with the idea of replacing Hall, at one point even offering the job to Hall's fellow cast member and friend Tim Kazurinsky, who turned down the position. Regardless, Ebersol relieved Hall of his position at the desk at the end of 1983.

Guest anchors (1983–1984)

For the rest of the 1983–1984 season, and into the next, there was no regular anchor at all, and both cast members and "SNL" guest hosts took turns at the chair (Hall himself left the show at the end of the 1983–1984 season).

Guest anchors (1984–1985)

In December 1984 Christopher Guest became the new permanent anchor, although his tenure was short-lived, as Guest (as well as the rest of the cast) was off the show by next season.

The return of "Weekend Update"

Dennis Miller (1985–1991)

In 1985 Michaels returned to the show, bringing the "Weekend Update" name with him. The new anchor was the acerbic Dennis Miller, who made the segment his own and remained in the chair for six years. The opening was a parody of the NBC News openings of the mid-1980s, using different songs to open the sequence. Miller's six-year tenure as anchor was the longest in "SNL"'s history until Tina Fey tied and later surpassed his record during the 2005–2006 season. Miller opened the segments by saying "Good evening, and what can I tell ya?" and signed off by saying "That's the news, and I'm outta here!", a line he would take with him to his eponymous HBO show in 1994. He would then scribble nonsense on his script, sometimes throwing it into the air.

Miller left in 1991.

Kevin Nealon (1991–1994)

Kevin Nealon took over with his low-key style and delivery reminiscent of former anchor Brad Hall. However, the audience welcomed Nealon, with his "Mr. Subliminal" character and as the straightman in many highlights such as "Operaman" and "Cajun Man" (with both characters being played by Adam Sandler), and Chris Farley's "Bennett Brauer" character. In one of Sandler's musical numbers, the "Red-Hooded Sweatshirt" song, Nealon provided background vocals without lifting his eyes off of his notes, which show producers cite as one of the shows funniest moments. Nealon also was "Tina Turner" with Ike Turner (played by Tim Meadows) in several sketches, one featuring Nealon standing up and dancing, revealing a short miniskirt he was wearing below his typical anchorman suit and tie. Nealon had a three-year stint at the "Update" desk before requesting his departure, as he felt his time behind the desk was drawing away from other acting opportunities on the show. During his final episode as anchorman for "Weekend Update", Nealon passed on the position to Norm Macdonald by kissing him on the lips. Nealon returned for his final season in 1994, making him the only solo anchor to return the following season after having been relieved of his "Update" duties (albeit voluntarily). Nealon signed off with the tag line "I'm Kevin Nealon, and that's news to me." The following season, Nealon would later quip to Successor Norm Macdonald during a 1994 Commentary as part of "Hans & Franz": "You know, the guy who sat here before you was a lot nicer."

Norm Macdonald (1994–1997)

Al Franken, whose history with "SNL" dated back to 1975, had been lobbying to replace Nealon as "Weekend Update" host, but lost the role to the less political Norm Macdonald (in the book "Live From New York", Franken would later point to this snub as his reason for leaving "SNL").

Unlike Nealon, who usually played the role as a straight-faced anchor, Macdonald chose to emphasize the artifice of "Weekend Update," introducing each segment with "I'm Norm Macdonald, and here's the fake news", and frequently breaking character by chuckling at his own jokes, stumbling over his lines, and making self-referential comments regarding his comic delivery. He relied heavily on running gags (such as repeated references to Frank Stallone, David Hasselhoff, and Demi Moore's breasts), stereotypes, and general outrageousness, including audacious attacks on public figures such as O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson. His smirking, deadpan delivery inspired devoted fans as well as ardent opponents.

Much like the 1980 season many years earlier, "Weekend Update" during Macdonald's first year at the desk was considered a high point in a season when ratings, substance, and laughter were lacking. At one point, Chevy Chase himself deemed Macdonald the only anchor (other than Chase himself) to have "done it right." However, by 1997, it appeared to some that his style had grown stale. On certain nights he would preside over entire "Update" sketches receiving nothing more than a few minor chuckles from the studio audience. His stint as "Weekend Update" anchor ended in controversy in December 1997, when he was fired upon the insistence of NBC West Coast Executive Don Ohlmeyer, who, ironically, had earlier pushed Lorne to put Macdonald behind the "Update" desk in 1994.Fact|date=April 2007 Ohlmeyer, a friend of Simpson's, was reportedly upset by Macdonald's frequent jokes at the expense of the former football player.Fact|date=September 2008

Colin Quinn (1998–2000)

Macdonald was replaced by Colin Quinn, who started on the first episode of 1998 and served through the 1999–2000 season. At the beginning of his first show, Quinn gave a short monologue implying that Norm had shown him "the ropes" to being a "Weekend Update" anchor. Quinn asked the audience if they had ever gone to their favorite bar looking for their favorite bartender and found out the bartender had been replaced by an unfamiliar man named "Steve". After a brief pause, Quinn looked flatly at the audience and proclaimed, "Well, I'm Steve. What can I get for ya?"

Occasionally, Quinn would open the segment standing in front of the desk with a quick topical joke, and he would assume the normal anchor position while the "Weekend Update" open aired.

During his time behind the "Update" desk, Quinn presided over much of the highly publicized Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal, the Microsoft Anti-Trust Trial, and the Elián González controversy. His sign-off was "I'm Colin Quinn, that's my story and I'm sticking to it." Quinn left the show in 2000.

The return to dual anchors

Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon (2000–2004)

Over the summer of 2000, cast members auditioned to be replacements. Among the candidates were comics Kevin Brennan and Jeffrey Ross, and two duos: Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell; and Jimmy Fallon and writer Tina Fey. The latter group got the nod, and they made their first on-air appearance that October. The Fallon-Fey team caught on with viewers and the press quickly, especially younger viewers, and both anchors appeared on the front cover of Entertainment Weekly in 2002. Fallon ended each "Weekend Update" sketch by throwing his pencil at the camera and cheering if he managed to hit it. Fey often signed off with Chase & Curtin's "Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow." "

Recurring features of the Fallon/Fey updates included the "Update Door", a door on the left of the set where celebrities, as impersonated by "SNL" cast members, would walk through to do a commentary, a segment called "Terrible ReEnactments" in which Chris Kattan would do an intentionally bad re-enactment of a news story that had occurred during the week (usually the story involved a celebrity being injured) and regular appearances from Jeff Richards's Drunk Girl character.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (2004–2006)

After a popular four-year run, Fallon left to pursue a film career in 2004, and was replaced by fellow cast member Amy Poehler as co-anchor, giving the sketch its first two-woman anchor team and "double the sexual tension." The all-female pairing won praise from many critics, but some critics said they felt the segment was beginning to take after "The Daily Show", relying heavily on political humor and video footage, especially during the 2004–2005 season.

The 2005 season began with Poehler returning to her seat behind the desk. However, Fey temporarily left the show after giving birth to her first child and was replaced briefly by Horatio Sanz as co-anchor. Fey returned to the show in October for the season's third live episode, jokingly explaining that "NBC and I have a contract; the baby and I only have a verbal agreement." The 2005–2006 season finale's "Weekend Update" ended with an apparent sendoff for Fey, who went on to write and star in a prime time sitcom, "30 Rock", which premiered on NBC in October 2006. Fey officially announced her departure from "SNL" in July 2006.

The sketch, featuring these two anchors, appeared in Robin Williams' 2006 political comedy "Man of the Year".

Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers (2006–2008)

After the departure of Fey, Amy Poehler continued as co-anchor along with new co-anchor Seth Meyers for the 2006–2007 season. [cite web|last=Bauder|first=David|date=September 21, 2006|title=Seth Meyers to co-anchor `SNL's `Update'|url=http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060921/ap_on_en_tv/tv_snl_changes_1|work=Associated Press|publisher=Yahoo! News|accessdate=2006-09-24] The duo began a string of running gags, including a story revolving around a new study about tree frogs, which can never be revealed, due to a set of unusual interruptions, including drunk dialing by Amy or a random celebrity played by an SNL cast member showing up out of nowhere. Another new gag introduced during the 2006–2007 season, entitled "Really!?! with Seth and Amy," involved Seth and Amy lambasting celebrities (for example Alberto Gonzales, Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer, or Michael Vick) for lack of common sense. It is uncertain which cast member, if any, will replace Poehler once she leaves SNL after giving birth to her child.

During the 2007–2008 season, two previous hosts returned to the "Update" desk for one off appearances; Chevy Chase, as "Senior Political Correspondent", and Tina Fey, as "Special Women's News Correspondent." Women's news was a running segment during the Fey-Poehler era. [http://www.film.com/features/story/amy-poehler-confirms-she-leaving/21839551]

"Weekend Update" anchors

A total of 32 people have anchored the "Weekend Update" desk. Below is a complete list of any and all who have served as an anchor at one time, or another, and the season(s) which they served. Note that throughout most of 1984 different cast members, special guests, or the weekly host handled the task. Those individuals—denoted in "italics"—are also listed below:

Season 1 (1975–76):
*Weekend Update with Chevy Chase

Season 2 (1976–77):
*Weekend Update with Chevy Chase (Last: 1976-10-30)
*Weekend Update with Jane Curtin (First: 1976-09-25)
*Weekend Update with Jane Curtin and Buck Henry (1977-02-20) [ [http://snltranscripts.jt.org/76/mgrasupdate.phtml SNL Transcripts Mardi Gras Special 2/20/1977 Weekend Update with Jane Curtin and Buck Henry.] ] "
**Chase began the season as anchor on September 18, but missed the next two episodes due to an injury sustained while performing a sketch in the season's first episode. He was replaced by Curtin during his absence. Chase returned to the show (and to the Weekend Update desk) October 16October 30. Jane Curtin permanently took over Weekend Update beginning November 13. Buck Henry co-anchored with Curtin on the Mardi Gras special."

Season 3 (1977–78):
*Weekend Update with Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd

Seasons 4 and 5 (1978–80):
*Weekend Update with Jane Curtin and Bill Murray

Season 6 (1980–81):
*Weekend Update with Charles Rocket
*Weekend Update with Charles Rocket and Gail Matthius (1981-01-101981-02-21)
*SNL NewsLine with Charles Rocket (1981-03-07)
*Weekend Update with Chevy Chase (1981-04-11)

Season 7 (1981–82):
*SNL NewsBreak with Brian Doyle-Murray and Mary Gross (1981-10-031981-10-17)
*SNL NewsBreak with Brian Doyle-Murray (1981-10-311982-02-06)
*SNL NewsBreak with Brian Doyle-Murray and Mary Gross (1982-02-201982-09-20)
*SNL NewsBreak with Brian Doyle-Murray and Christine Ebersole (1982-03-271982-05-22)

Season 8 (1982–83):
*Saturday Night News with Brad Hall

Season 9 (1983–84): (Cast member unless otherwise noted)
*Saturday Night News with Brad Hall (Last: 1984-01-21)
*"Saturday Night News with host Don Rickles" (1984-01-28)
*"Saturday Night News with host Robin Williams" (1984-02-11)
*"Saturday Night News with Joe Piscopo" (1984-02-18)
*"Saturday Night News with special guest Edwin Newman" (1984-02-25)
*"Saturday Night News with host Billy Crystal" (as Fernando Lamas) (1984-02-17)
*"Saturday Night News with host Michael Douglas" (1984-04-07)
*"Saturday Night News with host George McGovern" (1984-04-14)
*"Saturday Night News with host Billy Crystal (as Fernando Lamas)" (1984-05-05)
*"Saturday Night News with special guest Edwin Newman" (1984-05-12)

Season 10 (1984–85): (Cast member unless otherwise noted)
*"Saturday Night News with Billy Crystal (as Fernando Lamas)" (1984-10-06)
*"Saturday Night News with host Bob Uecker" (1984-10-13)
*"Saturday Night News with host Jesse Jackson" (1984-10-20)
*"Saturday Night News with special guest Edwin Newman" (1984-11-03)
*"Saturday Night News with host George Carlin" (1984-11-10)
*"Saturday Night News with host Ed Asner" (1984-11-17)
*Saturday Night News with Christopher Guest (1984-12-011985-04-13)

Seasons 11–16 (1985–1991):
*Weekend Update with Dennis Miller

Seasons 17–19 (1991–1994):
*Weekend Update with Kevin Nealon

Seasons 20–22 (1994-1997):
*Weekend Update with Norm Macdonald

Season 23 (1997–1998):
*Weekend Update with Norm Macdonald (Last: 1997-12-13)
*Weekend Update with Colin Quinn (First: 1998-01-10)

Seasons 24 & 25 (1998–2000):
*Weekend Update with Colin Quinn

Seasons 26–29 (2000-2004):
*Weekend Update with Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey

Season 30 (2004–05):
*Weekend Update with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

Season 31 (2005–06)
*Weekend Update with Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz (Last: 2005-10-08) (billed as Weekend Update with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)
*Weekend Update with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (First: 2005-10-22)

Season 32 (2006–2007)
*Weekend Update with Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers

Season 33 (2007–2008)
*Weekend Update with Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers
*Guest anchor, "senior political consultant" Chevy Chase (ONLY: 2007-10-06)
*Guest anchor, "women's news correspondent" Tina Fey (ONLY: 2008-02-23)

"Weekend Update" anchors: the tote board

As of episode 33.12

ee also

* Weekend (news program)
* The Colbert Report
* Rick Mercer Report

References

External links

* [http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/ Official Saturday Night Live Website]
* [http://saturday-night-live.com/snl/weekendupdate.html saturday-night-live.com - Weekend Update]
* [http://www.film.com/features/story/amy-poehler-confirms-she-leaving/21839551]


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