After the Dukakis episode, I would keep bumping into people who "could do things for me." Around 1995, there was one guy, Ralph Cooper, very slick producer-ish guy who fell in love with my Nick Flebber Christmas script. He was convinced it could be a TV show and had me re-write it up to pitch as such. He was really an advocate of my material. He was also trying to build up his stature in my eyes. I don't know why, but he really was trying to convince him he had the juice, that we were always just thisclose to making things happen. At the time he was hustling a script for a movie called "Hugo Pool."
I've been reading the updated version of "Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests." I read the first edition years ago, around the time of the 25th anniversary of the show. I've come to the conclusion that I really need to stop reading about the show, about how it works, about how the writers are picked, about the whole thing. I need to stop reading the stories of the zaniness of being backstage or the thrill of seeing your work broadcast live to the nation. I just need to stop. I used to read everything about SNL when I was younger. Because that was the dream I thought I could attain. Now I read it and know that the dream has withered away. But I tried...
(I've written about my brushes with SNL before, but since no one really reads blogs, I'm doing it again.)
Still moping about my rejection notice from NBC's Late Night Writers Workshop. I pulled out the one essay question earlier, since it dovetailed so nicely with the SNL video they posted on-line. So, what the heck, while I'm at it, I'm just going to post all my various essay answers over the years. Maybe this'll force me to write brand new ones to the 4 or 5 questions they seem to rotate through each cycle. Maybe read them and avoid my pitfalls, whatever they may be...
Well, it's that time of year again, when my annual rejection from the NBC Late Night Writers Workshop program arrives. Each year, NBC opens its doors to young aspiring comedy writers and me. It's weird, doing this so long makes you completely aware that the odds are against you, always. Yet, when the email came announcing they didn't select my application, it hurt. Again. I know I'm good. I'm just not good enough.
The fact that it's NBC doing this is what makes it so attractive to me. I made it the topic of one of my essays in my 2014 packet:
Why do you want to write for Late Night Television?
Growing up, NBC was a neighborhood to visit. So many of their various comedy and variety shows, as mentioned above, devoted time to talking about the NBC commissary, the parking lot, other NBC shows and stars and beautiful downtown Burbank. NBC was meta before meta was a thing. Bits happened backstage, in the audience, behind the scenes.
Saturday Night Live carried on this tradition for a long while; cold openings in the cast locker room, opening bits in the hallways (hi, Lama!, hi, Mr. Lincoln!), invitations to the Beatles to appear, (setting up one of the longest running gags on TV).
Then, for a while, it seemed to slide away. Granted, not much was happening around NBC that made you think things were going on behind the scenes. It was taken over by bigger and more nameless corporations. "30 Rock" tried to keep the concept going, but it always felt like you were peeking behind the scenes of an alternate universe.
Then Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett brought it back. It started with videos about back stage relationships and kept going from there. His latest got cut for time, but it's about as meta a glimpse of backstage as you could get. It's just odd, though, how the backstage of SNL comes back to life in their video shorts.
or Skit Happens
During my time with Olympia Dukasis' Whole Theater, I managed to impress Ms. Dukasis with my comedy material. Here's how I know:
At this time, 1988, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” had a mini-tradition of asking Oscar nominees for best supporting actor to host the show. And they asked Ms. Dukakis. Good for her. But then the weirdest thing happened. Tom Gilpin called me aside after one of our rehearsals and asked me if I wanted to meet with Olympia Dukakis. Sure?
Freelance writer, still hacking away.