The Nov. 3 cover story of TV Guide Magazine takes a close look at how Saturday Night Live has helped drive America's obsession with this year's historic presidential campaign. Along the way, SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels shared some thoughts with us about the show's political hot streak.
TVGuide.com: Saturday Night Live has made a lot of noise in past presidential election years, but it feels much bigger in this cycle. Why do you think that is?
Lorne Michaels: When you get 70 million people watching a debate with rapt interest and you have the echo of it all on the Internet and the 24-hour news channels, almost everything gets seen. You don't need to worry about the straight line. On [the second] debate that we did on the Thursday show, Darrell [Hammond, as Sen. John McCain] wandering into the shot was an immediate laugh. There was no setup to it. You had to have ...
D. L. Hughley
Cable often turns to comedians to talk about the news, so it was only a matter of time before one would get a show on CNN.
Starting Oct. 25, King of Comedy alum D.L. Hughley will have an hour on Saturday nights at 10 pm/ET (with a repeat on Sunday) to riff on the week's events. The weekly show — tentatively called D.L. Hughley Breaks the News — will combine comedy with interviews with newsmakers and CNN correspondents.
A professed news junkie, Hughley told TV Guide what viewers could expect. Read on for the complete Q&A.
Rachel Maddow courtesy MSNBC
Cable news personalities usually take a while to catch on in the ratings, but not MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. Since her show debuted on Sept. 8, she's been a strong competitor in the 9 p.m. hour, topping CNN's Larry King Live on some nights and often building on her audience lead-in from Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Only nine years ago, she was an activist and Rhodes Scholar turned morning show sidekick in Holyoke, Mass. Now she's a major participant in the national dialogue taking place each day on 24-hour cable news. The Biz recently stopped by her office at NBC News to talk about her rapid rise.
Susan Zirinsky by John Paul Filo/CBS
Most network newsmagazines have had to reinvent themselves to survive in recent years and none have done it as successfully as CBS's 48 Hours Mystery. Entering its fifth year in its true crime format, executive producer Susan Zirinsky has made the program appointment viewing for fans of the genre. The Biz caught up with Zirinsky before the show's Saturday, Sept. 27, season premiere (at 10 pm ET).
John McCain by Pool Photographer/WireImage.com; Barack Obama by Sven Darmer/DAVIDS/WireImage.com
The ratings record set when Ronald Reagan debated President Jimmy Carter in 1980 - 81 million viewers - could be broken on September 26 when Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain meet in the first of three match-ups that may decide who prevails in his quest for the White House. "The stakes are never higher than in a debate," says CBS News analyst Dan Bartlett, former counselor for President Bush. "The overall tension and anxiety is incredible." Here's what to expect.
Bob Woodruff courtesy ABC
It's been two and a half years since ABC News' Bob Woodruff suffered a massive brain injury while reporting in Iraq. Further proof of his remarkable recovery will be seen on August 6, when ABC airs China Inside Out: Bob Woodruff Reports (10 p.m. ET), an hour-long special that looks at the global impact of the country's rapid economic expansion.
Jay Leno courtesy NBC Photo
Jay Leno showed up incognito at the Television Critics Association on Monday to ask the inevitable questions about his future to NBC Entertainment co-chairmen Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff. Haven't we just seen this act? Yes, just last week when ABC chief Steve McPherson was quizzed by a disguised Jimmy Kimmel about that network's possible pursuit of Leno. Doesn't anybody have an original idea in this business?
Katie Couric by John Paul Filo/CBS
One of the network morning shows recently did a piece about how the bad economy is keeping some couples from getting divorced.
Jay Leno by Michael Schwartz/ WireImage.com
Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel together in late night at ABC?
If you listen to ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson, it could happen.
At his Wednesday session with the Television Critics Association, McPherson diffused the inevitable question about Jay Leno jumping to ABC by having Jimmy Kimmel pose as an out-of-town reporter. ("If you were to even talk to Jay Leno, wouldn't that be like contract tampering? Wouldn't that be illegal? Couldn't you go to jail for that?") Very funny. But it doesn't change the equation. If Jay Leno doesn't stay with NBC after he's done with the Tonight Show in May 2009, ABC is favored to become his new home. And McPherson acknowledged that's OK with him. "Someone like Leno doesn't come along every year," McPherson said when cornered by reporters after his press conference. "That's a huge possibility."
Chuck Todd courtesy The National Journal/NBC
By the time the 2008 race for the White House is decided, NBC News political director Chuck Todd will have the most famous TV beard since Mitch Miller (Google him). Before joining NBC in 2007, Todd toiled for 15 years at Hotline, a newsletter for campaign insiders. The experience gave him a deep knowledge of the political process. Now he's a must-watch analyst on NBC and MSNBC - even inspiring two fan Web sites, VivaChuckTodd.com and ChuckToddFacts.com. Unauthorized Todd-worshiping merchandise is also available online. The Biz recently caught up with the goateed guru of all things electoral.