I’m looking forward to reading the updated version of Tom Shales/James Miller’s oral history of “Saturday Night Live,” timed to coincide with the upcoming 40th season of the show. The original covered 1975-2000, and the new material covers the years since then.. There’s an excerpt in The Hollywood Reporter centering on the 2008 election, especially the skits with Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton and ex-cast-member Tina Fey returning to play Sarah Palin:
Seth Meyers, head writer-castmember: The “Russia from the house” line? That was not [in the] first draft. I believe I’m going to give credit to [writer] Mike Shoemaker for that line. That was the thing about those sketches — you were constantly carrying them around and reading through them for whoever you could get to listen, and people would just constantly pitch jokes.
Lorne Michaels: You could see perception changing completely. It’s [Jon] Lovitz as [Michael] Dukakis going, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.” Or Chevy [Chase] as Gerald Ford going, “I was told there would be no math.” The audience that was suddenly watching Sarah Palin wasn’t necessarily the SNL audience. Tina crossed over. It made her a huge star.
Sarah Palin, guest: I think SNL is egotistical if they believe that it was truly an effect on maybe the public debate about who should lead the country in the next four years.
Amy Poehler, castmember: Playing Hillary and Sarah Palin was an indication of women taking center stage in politics in a way that I hadn’t been able to experience in my time there. My first show was two weeks after 9/11 happened, and for the first three or four years of my time there, we could barely do anything political. Everyone and everything was so tender, and we had lost Will Ferrell as our [George W.] Bush. Everything was so bad; the news was so bad. There was a lot of pop-culture stuff, and getting to finally do really deep political parody at the end of my career there felt really satisfying.
If Palin truly believes that Fey’s impersonation of her didn’t negatively affect the public perception of her, she’s dumber than I thought. To this day, a great many people believe that lines Fey spoke in those sketches actually came out of Palin’s mouth.
Here’s something else Palin is quoted as saying in the book:
If I ran into Tina Fey again today, I would say: “You need to at least pay for my kids’ braces or something from all the money that you made off of pretending that you’re me! My goodness, you capitalized on that! Can’t you contribute a little bit? Jeez!”
I hope she’s kidding, but if she’s serious, she has no sense of proportion, because no losing vice presidential candidate has ever capitalized on their brief moment of fame more than the ex-governor of Alaska.
By the way, the revised “SNL” book won’t be released until September 9th, but you can’t pre-order it on Amazon because it’s published by a division of Hachette, which the online retailer has gone to war with, refusing to sell any of its books until it gets a bigger piece of the pie.