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Over Budget 'SNL' Axes Goodman Episode from April Schedule

By Don Kaplan

"Saturday Night Live" has been forced to axe a planned, original episode later this season because of NBC budget cuts. The show, now in its 24th season, will drop the new show slated for April 17 in order to save more than $1 million.

"Everybody [at the network] was asked to cut back," Lorne Michaels, the show's creator and executive producer told The Post yesterday.

"We cut back as much as we thought we could, and still deliver the same [quality] show that we do," he said.

"SNL" traditionally produces 20 original shows a season. The cut back means the late-night series will make only 19 new shows this year.

"The way it worked out it was just easier to keep the show intact and do one fewer," Micheals said, adding that he agreed to budget cuts last June.

At mid season, producers decided to drop the April show rather than shave overall production costs for each episode.

"We agreed that we would do 19 shows at the same budget level as last year," Michaels said.

"Part of it had to do with a lot of cuts across the board at the network," Michaels said. "Because of things that had to do with primetime and nothing to do with us."

John Goodman, who was seen on last Saturday's episode dressed as sexgate snitch Linda Tripp, was slated to host the April show that was dropped. Michaels said Goodman will be asked back to host a future episode.

NBC has imposed a series of serious budget cuts in the last year in an effort to save about $100 million. The cuts have resulted in hundreds of layoff and ordered 10-20 percent budget cuts for shows they own.

"We were spared those [cutbacks]," Michaels said. "Our budget didn't get an increase, and the way that it worked out was that we [have to cut] a show later in the season."

It has been a bad year for NBC overall.

The network was outbid by CBS last January for the NFL TV rights, lost its Thursday night "Must See TV" linchpin when "Seinfeld" ended last year, and has since endured a continuous bout of slipping ratings on many of its primetime shows.

Also besides the $13-million-per-episode it pays for "ER," NBC also shelled out millions of dollars in new contracts for such top news talent as Katie Couric, Stone Phillips, Jane Pauley, and Geraldo Rivera. Michaels said that he would have preferred to have kept this season's 20th show on the schedule.

"I think this is a great group and they're really at a peak," he said.

"They're doing really good work and we've been getting great hosts.

Michaels added, "It's a really good period for us, but not a particularly good year for NBC."

Source: New York Post


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