Wednesday, May 12, 2010

White Lie

Via Mark Evanier's invaluable blog News From Me, I read an interview with Lorne Michaels in which he makes the surprising claim that he's been trying to get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live for "decades" now. Well, "surprising" probably isn't the right word; let's sub in "preposterous."

It wasn't until her appearance in a Super Bowl ad that the Facebook groundswell for the ancient White to host SNL began in earnest. But if we're to believe Lorne Michaels, she was old news, so to speak, by that time. So when exactly was she first considered? When she had an extended cameo in the Sandra Bullock chick flick The Proposal? During the halcyon days of Golden Palace? Come on, Lorne - Cheech Marin had a better chance of being asked to host SNL at that point. Even during the Golden Girls days, Estelle Getty had the best shot at filling any batty-old-lady part. And in the 1970s, Betty White was exactly the kind of TV celebrity Michaels did not want hosting the show.

Lorne Michaels' position in comedy and in television history is secure. The Betty White choice was an anomaly, a left-field pick that worked out quite well, if you ask me. It doesn't do Lorne any good to pretend it was a long-planned event.

Personally, I've wanted Betty White to host SNL ever since she appeared on the classic Password episode of The Odd Couple:


  1. I don't have the issue at hand, but I believe Betty confirmed that she had been invited multiple times over the years in the recent Entertainment Weekly profile of her.

  2. Not that this clip wasn't hilarious, but what exactly did Betty do here that made her SNL-worthy? She totally played second fiddle to Tony Randall and Jack Klugman!!! That would never happen today!

  3. Found the EW article--BW doesn't actually say whether she had been invited before, just that she was going to turn down this offer (but her agent threatened to quit if she did). Lorne repeats his claim that he had invited her three times; the phrasing implies that he asked once in the 70s, again in the 80s, and again in the 90s.

  4. I remain very dubious of Lorne's claim. After Ruth Gordon hosted in Season 2 (and she was great), there wasn't another female host over the age of 65 until Betty last weekend (with the exception of "Anyone Can Host" winner Miskel Spillman). Old ladies are so not the SNL demographic.