There's lots of chatter on the web tonight about political comedy conspiracies and NBC's motivation for yanking a biting "Saturday Night Live" sketch from this past weekend that needles a few prominent liberal billionaires.
Los Angeles Times scribe Mary McNamara gets to the heart of the whole thing in an interview with "SNL" boss Lorne Michaels that was posted on the Times' Show Tracker blog Tuesday evening.
Michaels explains that the major issue with the sketch, which depicted a news conference to tubthump the plan held by Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank, was that he thought that two of the people portrayed in the sketch were fictional characters. In fact Herb and Marion Sandler are very real, and very rich from selling their subprime mortgage-pumping bank, Golden West Financial, to Wachovia for a cool $24 billion not so long ago.
Michaels told McNamara that he spoke to the Sandlers, and then made the call to pull the vid of the sketch off NBC.com, snip out some of the harshest (and probably legally actionable) comments out, and and then repost the kinder, gentler version.
Michaels sounds a little humbled by the experience. For the exec producer of "SNL," that's saying something.
First of all, I pleaded incompetence (when speaking to the Sandlers), which is not a thing I do often, and the fact that I did not know they were real is 100% my responsibility... I understand the Sandlers’ complaint. I think it’s not insignificant to read ‘People who should be shot’ underneath your name.
Michaels' comments are unlikely to quiet the conspiracy buffs who note that the Sandlers are big supporters of liberal causes, as is another public figure skewered in the sketch, George Soros.
Today's dust up over the sketch is likely to boost "SNL's" already soaring ratings. Why, it's almost as if the government, and the men and woman who would be our next prexy and veep, have staged their own bailout for this august American institution at the outset of its 34th season.