Night Live (SNL) is a weekly late-night 90-minute American
comedy-variety show based in New York City which has been broadcast
by NBC nearly every Saturday night since its debut on October 11,
1975. It is one of the longest-running network entertainment programs
in American television history. Each week, the show's cast is joined
by a guest host and a musical act.
Originally, the show was
called NBC's Saturday Night because Howard Cosell was hosting a show
on ABC titled Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell. After Cosell's
show was cancelled in 1976, NBC retitled its show. The first show
with the new title was broadcast on March 26, 1977.
The show began as a
replacement for The Best of Carson reruns of The Tonight Show that
aired on either Saturday or Sunday night, at an affiliate's
discretion, from January 1965 until September 1975 (originally known
as The Saturday/Sunday Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson).
Originally, the show was called NBC's Saturday Night, as the current
title was in use by rival network ABC. NBC purchased the rights to
the name in 1976 and officially adopted the new title on March 26,
1977. After five years, creator Lorne Michaels chose not to renew his
contract, and was joined in departure by the cast members and
writers. Jean Doumanian took over the show for the 1980 season,
hiring a new cast and writers that included Eddie Murphy. Doumanian
was replaced after one year by Dick Ebersol, who had hired Michaels
as the show's creator. Murphy and Joe Piscopo continued as cast
members under Ebersol, remaining with the show until 1984. For fall
1984, Ebersol added several cast members with television experience,
including Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Harry Shearer, and Pamela
Stephenson. After one season, Ebersol wanted a more significant
revamp, which was rejected in favor of bringing back Lorne Michaels.
Michaels' return for the
1985-6 season restored an association with NBC that has lasted nearly
thirty years. The show has helped launch the careers of Dan Aykroyd,
John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Stephen Colbert, Steve Martin, Billy
Crystal, Jane Curtin, Joan Cusack, Larry David, Robert Downey, Jr.,
Jimmy Fallon, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Janeane Garofalo,
Gilbert Gottfried, Phil Hartman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Dennis Miller,
Tracy Morgan, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Conan O'Brien,
Amy Poehler, Gilda Radner, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph, Adam Sandler,
Rob Schneider, Paul Shaffer, Molly Shannon, Harry Shearer, Martin
Short, Sarah Silverman, David Spade, Ben Stiller, Damon Wayans and
many more. As head of Broadway Video and SNL Films, Michaels has
leveraged the talent he's helped introduce, producing shows and films
such as All You Need Is Cash, Wayne's World, Late Night with Conan
O'Brien, Coneheads, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and 30 Rock.
In 2005, NBC renewed SNL's
contract until 2012.