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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 (57 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $24.99
Kindle Price: $6.29
You Save: $18.70 (75%)

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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:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,842 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 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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7 of 8 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on SNL I've ever read. September 28, 1999
By A Customer
If you are ever interested in Saturday Night Live, this is the book for you. Chronicling the years between 1974-1985, this gives an interesting insight on the lives and careers of Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Eddie Murphy and others. A must read for all SNL fans.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 4 days ago by R. F. Zeiss
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and entertaining
The fourth star is for the high amount of detail woven into this book, however, when it comes to a behind the scenes history of the show, I still prefer Tom Shales' and James... Read more
Published 6 days ago by kris kris
5.0 out of 5 stars which in my opinion were the best.
This book is an eye-opener. Especially if you're old enough to remember those first shows in the late 70's, which in my opinion were the best.
Published 1 month ago by Karen Lee Rigney
4.0 out of 5 stars Was pretty surprised at how bad and severely dated some of ...
In the age of YouTube and Hulu- I found myself searching and re-watching some of the classic bits mentioned throughout the book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Christopher L Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars great read, youll remember and laugh!
Absolutly loved this book, I couldent put it down, I loved the stories of how it all began, the backstage antics, the family that was the original cast and Lorne just let the kids... Read more
Published 2 months ago by tracie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great book, very detail oriented, fun learning all of the behind the scenes tidbits about SNL and their cast members over the years.
Published 2 months ago by Dana
5.0 out of 5 stars With everything lining up against it, the show proved everyone wrong
I loved this book for a few reasons:

It was a fascinating look at how one of my favorite shows got its start. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Debbie Elicksen
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots Of Juicy Gossip!
I enjoyed this book as a lifelong fan of Snl. I remember watching it when it first came out when I was 10/11. I enjoyed reading about the "behind scenes" of my favorite shows. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kristin Iltis
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring retread with no new info
"Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests" is a much more entertaining and informative read. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
A behind the scenes look at the first 10 years of SNL.
For fans of the show, both long time and new, it's definitely worth the read.
Published 6 months ago by Mary Anne Chown
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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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