Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Live from New York it's...Howard Cosell?
I was listening to Billy Crystal's book on tape called "Still Foolin' 'Em" and he mentioned that he had worked on a show called Saturday Night Live. We know he worked on the NBC sketch comedy show that started in the 1970s with legendary comics like John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Crystal was known for playing Fernando Lamas ("You look mahvelous") and Sammy Davis Jr. But, he was not referring to that show. He was talking about an ABC variety show hosted by sportscaster Howard Cosell. Maybe the creators of the show figured that Cosell's popularity as a sportscaster could transfer to success as a variety show host. This show only lasted 18 episodes from September of 1975 to January of 1976. It aired from 8 pm to 9 pm and it had a cast of comics that included Bill Murray, his brother Brian Doyle-Murray and Christopher Guest. They were called the "primetime players". The show was ripped apart by critics. TV Guide called it one of the worst shows of all time. The first episode had some strong guests including Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka and John Denver. It originated from New York's Ed Sullivan Theatre at 53rd and Broadway, which would later become the home of Late Show with David Letterman in 1993.
In 1977, after the departure of Cosell's show, the NBC sketch show changed its name to Saturday Night Live from simply Saturday Night. Now we know the meaning of the SNL cast being called the "not ready for primetime players". I had wondered why the say "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night".
Read more abut this show here.