Betty White has popped up everywhere lately — she's in movies and on award shows and in a Super Bowl commercial and, of course, on Craig Ferguson's couch — but the one place she never thought she'd wind up was hosting Saturday Night Live. "Well, at my age, I'm an old broad. ... I said, 'I'd rather watch it than do it,'" she recalls of her initial reaction to the invitation to host.
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Her agent, though, really wanted her to do it. "To be invited to do a show as current and choice as Saturday Night Live, he thought would be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a different direction to go in," she says.
Besides, is there anyone as current and choice as the resurgent White?
Joining White — who at 88 will be the show's oldest host ever — for the Mother's Day-themed episode will be musical guest Jay-Z and six former SNL players: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer and Rachel Dratch.
What — and who — else might we see on the highly anticipated episode (besides the requisite Golden Girls skit)?
1. Silence: Don't be surprised if White gets no love when she takes the stage for her monologue. "Everybody said that, oh, when you come out for the introduction, everybody's going to be so excited. And so I would love it if [they introduce me] and nothing — no applause, no nothing," she says. "The audience just stares back at me. I think that could be fun."
2. "Crazy in Love" with Jay-Z? White is "game" to try a duet with the rapper. "I'm thrilled to meet him and thrilled to hear that he's going to be on the show because he's the hottest thing since sliced bread," she says.
3. Beer Pong: Jimmy Fallon edged White on Late Night last June, and White would like the new Emmy host to make the trek from Studio 6B to Studio 8H to even the score. "Oh, I'm dying for a rematch. I almost had him," she says. "And then at the very last minute he not only beat me, but he drank my beer."
Betty White hosting Saturday Night Live on May 8
4. Animals: White, a lifelong animal advocate, hopes some furry creatures will join her in a skit. "They're the other half of my life and I love them," she says. "And they always kind of get me calm and tone me down." How does "Mark Wahlberg and Betty White Talk to Animals" sound?
5. Could it be... the Church Lady? One of White's favorite SNL characters is the holier-than-thou Enid Strict. "I love the Church Lady. I don't know why. She always just tickled me pink," White says. If SNL can round up Fey, Poehler, Shannon, Rudolph, Gastayer and Dratch, then surely Dana Carvey can drop by, right?
6. Possible violence: David Matthews, who created the Facebook campaign to get White on SNL, will be at the show and wants to meet the star, who's up for it on one condition. "If he doesn't mind me, you know, beating him up for getting me into this trouble," she quips.
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7. Quick Wit: While cue cards have been the lifeline for many hosts (and SNL stars), White is nervous about using them. No novice when it comes to live TV, White went to "television college" when she performed live for five-and-a-half hours a day six days a week early in her career on the variety show Hollywood Television. Combined with her sharp wit, the comedienne has seldom relied on cue cards. "I hope the print is big enough. If it isn't, I'll do the show with my glasses," she says. And if she still can't see them, will she disarm us with her bawdy humor? "I have no idea what I'm going to say. My mental editor goes to sleep sometimes and I have to watch it like a hawk."
Are you looking forward to seeing White on SNL?