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Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live [Kindle Edition]

Doug Hill , Jeff Weingrad
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $24.99
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Book Description

Saturday Night is the intimate history of the original Saturday Night Live, from its beginnings as an outlaw program produced by an unruly band of renegades from the comedy underground to a TV institution that made stars of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy.

This is the book that revealed to the world what really happened behind the scenes during the first ten years of this groundbreaking program, from the battles SNL fought with NBC to the battles fought within the show itself. It's all here: The love affairs, betrayals, rivalries, drug problems, overnight successes, and bitter failures, mixed with the creation of some of the most outrageous and original comedy ever. "It reads like a thriller," said the Associated Press, "and may be the best book ever written about television."

Available for the first time in ebook format, this edition features nearly fifty photographs of cast, crew and sketches.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bold and irreverent, NBC's Emmy-winning Saturday Night Live produced many stars (Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin and others) and redefined the limits of TV comedy. In this absorbing account, based on 250 interviews, the authors successfully recreate the chaotic backstage scene where writers and performers from the comedy underground of the 1970s created an "outlaw" show for a generation raised on TV and rock 'n' roll. The on-air shenanigans pale in comparison to much of the manic behavior reported here: frantic last-minute changes in sketches; rivalries between stars; battles with censors; run-ins with more conventional network crews and security guards. At once serious (explaining how "amateurs" managed to break TV's comedic rules) and gossipy (drugs, brawls, etc.), this bright history is bound to please many. Hill and Weingrad have written individually about TV for numerous publications. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

An engrossing, compulsively readable history of the late-night television show, from the early struggle to get it accepted by the network to its most recent incarnation with the return of original producer Lorne Michaels. The book is well written and detailed, and the authors interviewed more than 200 people connected with the show. Most interesting are the first few seasons, when Saturday Night was truly innovative and blessed with the Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players and more daring writers. Excerpts from skits punctuate the text, and most are still funny. As the show loses its cult status and goes big-time, however, the story becomes a depressing account of rampant egotism, drug abuse, and, ultimately, the end of SNL 's originality and excitement. For social history and media collections. Judith Sutton, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3315 KB
  • Print Length: 595 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Untreed Reads (December 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MNL3K0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,539 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff for long-time SNL fans! October 24, 1998
This is one of the best behind-the-scenes books I've ever read. Published in 1986, it detailed the first ten seasons of SNL. This isn't a sanitized, cast-only, everybody's-wonderful book, but it's not a gossipy tell-all, either. There's a lot of great stories about all the people on both sides of the camera who put the show on week after week. There are great chapters on how the show got on the air in the first place (they even needed an OK from Johnny Carson), and the battles the show fought with censors, critics, even the White House. And there are chapters devoted to the shows four breakout stars--Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Eddie Murphy. Hill and Weingrad are clearly fans of the show, but they're still merciless when discussing the show's low points, particularly the 1980-81 season. There are detailed examinations of many of the show's milestones, including a 1978 show with Steve Martin that's still considered one of the series' best. If you remember watching the show back when the Coneheads, the Blues Brothers, and the Nerds were the hottest thing on the tube, you'll want to track down this book. And I'd dearly love these authors to put out a volume II chronicling the last dozen years of the show.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As entertaining as the show itself (the good episodes) January 24, 2001
An excellent book, in terms of its breadth and the behind-the-scenes perspective it gives to the Saturday Night Live episodes we have all seen on TV. The writers certainly did their homework, and yet the scores of names, dates, and places mentioned never bog down the flow of this story. It is fascinating to read about the clashes between these stars who were both comic geniuses and petulant egomaniacs, and frankly, it is surprising that any episodes were able to air at all. Despite what you think about Saturday Night Live, you cannot deny the show's existence as a television institution, and reading this book makes you appreciate its innovation then, and longevity now, all the more.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Live From New York January 16, 2006
Like many, I grew up watching Saturday Night Live, either new episodes or those rerun on various cable channels, marveling at the wonderful humor and originality. I had always heard urban legends surrounding the show, and its earliest moments, and when I discovered this book I knew I had to read it. The authors take you through the first several seasons of the show, showing the reader many aspects of the backstage history, from the dynamics between Lorne Michaels and the cast to the use of drugs in the early days. There are many anecdotes from tales involving the Hell's Angels to the trip Chevy Chase made to the White House to lampoon President Ford, and all of the early greats are covered from Belushi, Murphy, and Chase to O'Donoghue, Franken, and Davis. I laughed recalling many of the skits that are presented in this book, and I sit amazed as I read about many of the sorrowful topics including the decline of Garret Morris and Larraine Newman. This book is older and dated, and many of the actors that were predicted to go into obscurity have resurfaced since publication and have seemingly came into there on. It's very light hearted, even given some of the darker topics, and it is a fairly quick read as it is written in an anecdotal style. Read this book and enjoy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Let me cut right to the chase: buy this book! If you have any love whatsoever for SNL, comedy, guerilla television, and the Golden Years era (1975-85), buy this book before someone raises the price! If you have ever suspected that the entertainment world is a collective act of insanity, this book will confirm everything and double down on the bet.

Saturday Night is a Kindle re-release of the 1986 book by journalists Weingrad and Hill. While lightly reviewed on Amazon, this effort received a lot of attention in 1986. The Washington Post called it "a chilling, real-life cliffhanger." Vanity Fair called it "an anthropological masterpiece." Reviews on other websites have given the print edition at least four stars out of five.

Weingrad and Hill spent a solid two years (1983-85) researching this effort. After reviewing everything written by the Young Turk journalists who had covered SNL, they interviewed over 250 people. NBC cooperated and opened the doors to its facilities and staff. Key players like Lorne Michaels, the show's creator-producer, helped the authors gain access to people who might otherwise have stayed silent. Then Weingrad and Hill got out of the way and let the story and its players speak for themselves. The result is a captivating recounting of all the trials and tribulations that went into the making of a classic era in television history. Their story has a freshness and sense of exhilaration that would probably not be possible today.

I started out to skim different parts of the story just to get a sense for it. That proved impossible. The story kept sucking me in, and I ended up reading entire segments before I had intended to read the book at all. Jim Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep Into The Night July 20, 2010
The idea in 1975 was to give Johnny Carson a break from weekend reruns. Very soon "NBC's Saturday Night" became something more, something special, and yes, at times, something dangerous, both to cultural custodians and to the very people who made it happened. Some died from it, others became rich and famous. At least one did both. "Saturday Night" tells their story, very well.

Published in 1985, and thus focused on the first decade of a show now 35 years old, "Saturday Night" is about as perfect a history as one imagines anyone could have gotten from a show that thrived on creative chaos. Co-authors Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad offer equal parts juicy gossip, riveting character studies, and warm appreciation for what was accomplished by Lorne Michaels, his performers, writers, and staff.

It's a long book that can be devoured pretty quickly, especially for those of us who remember the thrill of the program when it first aired. You can read it as an engaging snapshot of powerhouse comedians like Bill Murray, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Eddie Murphy in their youthful prime. Alternately, you can read it as a business study, of how a profitable creative enterprise was developed with much struggle from within a corporation, NBC, going stale from playing it too safe for too long.

"I know the ingredients but not the proportions" was how Michaels, a young writer-producer, pitched it to the suits. First and foremost, "Saturday Night" tells of the balancing act Michaels accomplished in getting the show to become must-see TV for a generation brought up in television but, until then, locked out from expressing themselves on it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great History here!
Great read! Not trashy. Informational.
Published 25 days ago by philip
2.0 out of 5 stars and I was looking for more of a light and fun read.
interesting history but cast a mostly negative light on the cast and crew of SNL. It got into a lot of the drama and turmoil of the show, and I was looking for more of a light and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Meghan B.
4.0 out of 5 stars Times were great
Wonderful. Wish you were (still) here.
Published 1 month ago by Marcos A. Hardy
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Good read. I would have got the newer updated version had I known about it. Overall, a neat look into a great show!
Published 1 month ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Terrific insight into the origins of SNL.
Published 1 month ago by John S.
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A little too detailed.
Published 2 months ago by Benjamin B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Well done book. Thoroughly researched and easy to read. Brings back a lot of memories
Published 2 months ago by John S. Finta
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Read
The book is extremely detailed and give you the history you want. The only downfall is the sheer volume of info that can make it a chore by the end.
Published 3 months ago by Brandon Alisoglu
4.0 out of 5 stars Great gift idea
Great gift idea, ordered because I couldn't find a new copy. Arrived a little beat up, but it adds character. Would order again.
Published 3 months ago by Bgor
5.0 out of 5 stars great
Loved the take. Disliked some of the assumptions, but mostly loved the inside scoop into a world closely guarded and rarely seen.
Published 5 months ago by J. Markovits
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More About the Author

Doug Hill has studied the history and philosophy technology for more than twenty years, and it is that study that informs "Not So Fast: Thinking Twice About Technology." He blogs at The Question Concerning Technology ( and can be followed on Twitter @DougHill25 and on Facebook at

Here are some of the endorsements "Not So Fast" has received:

"Lively, fast moving, always entertaining, Not So Fast offers a grand overview of the extravagant hopes and dire warnings that accompany the arrival of powerful new technologies. Blending the key ideas of classic and contemporary thinkers, Doug Hill explores the aspirations of those who strive for the heavens of artifice and those who find the whole enterprise a fool's errand. This is the most engaging, readable work on the great debates in technology criticism now available and a solid contribution to that crucial yet unsettling tradition."
- Langdon Winner, author of Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought and The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology

"This is the technology criticism I've been waiting for - aware of the history of technology criticism and the history of changing attitudes toward technology, and at the same time attuned to contemporary developments. Not So Fast is readable, meticulously sourced, and, above all - nuanced. I recommend it for technology critics and enthusiasts alike."
- Howard Rheingold, author of Tools for Thought, The Virtual Community, Smart Mobs and Net Smart

"Doug Hill's Not So Fast has to be one of the five best books on technology I've read over the past decade. Hill has a remarkable command of the technology creators, analysts, and critics, such as Ellul, Heidegger, Kurzweil, Gates, Jobs, Mumford, Borgmann, and McLuhan. He approaches technology from several helpful angles. His prose is clear, convincing, and often droll! Not So Fast must be part of any reflection on our culture and future."
- David W. Gill, Professor of Workplace Theology & Business Ethics, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, President, International Jacques Ellul Society

"Not So Fast addresses the primary questions of the day: how can we construct a coherent story about what is happening to us? And what can we do about it? Anyone interested in the future of the human project will benefit hugely from Doug Hill's lucid performance."
- James Howard Kunstler, author of Too Much Magic, The Long Emergency and The Geography of Nowhere

"Not So Fast reflects, in addition to Doug Hill's consummate skill as a writer, his deep knowledge of the history and the philosophy of technology. His reflections are grounded in that knowledge and at the same time are original and profound. I've worked and traveled in the highest reaches of the tech world for more than twenty years and I still learned much from this book."
- Allen Noren, Vice President, Online, O'Reilly Media

"Never have I experienced such a probing, in-depth analysis of the push-and-pull of technology as a driver, determining force, savior or disease of our species."
- Roger Cubicciotti, former chair, Center of Innovation for Nanobiotechnology, North Carolina Biotechnology Center; Visiting Scholar, Department of Physics, Wake Forest University

Hill has led a peripatetic personal and professional life. He was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, went to high school in Carmel and Burlingame, California, undergraduate school in Oregon and graduate school in New York City. After living for 20 years in Montclair, New Jersey, he now resides in Philadelphia.

Hill spent the first half of his journalism career writing about television for a wide variety of popular and professional publications. He co-authored the book "Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live," widely praised (Associated Press: "It may be the best book ever written about television") and widely stolen from. Tiring of celebrities and especially celebrity publicists, Hill turned to writing about health, a specialty he continues to pursue today.


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