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Maybe it Wasn't the O.J. Jokes That Got Macdonald Fired

By Tom Jicha

Perhaps it wasn't the litany of O.J. Simpson zingers that got Norm Macdonald fired as the anchor of ``Saturday Night Live's'' Weekend Update. NBC West Coast President Don Ohlmeyer pulled the trigger on Macdonald a year ago. Because of the NBC executive's enduring friendship with O.J., it was speculated by many, including Macdonald, that this was the reason for his firing. Ohlmeyer, who is now in the process of leaving NBC, too, steadfastly denied it. He said it was solely a case of Macdonald not being funny.

The droll-witted Macdonald, who is coming back March 24 in an ABC sitcom, ``The Norm Show,'' is now willing to give Ohlmeyer the benefit of the doubt. ``I don't think it was the O.J. thing, although he'd always bring it up, like, 'Hey, what about the Dancing Itos (on the ``Tonight Show''),' which wasn't the harshest comment you can make on O.J. In all fairness to him, my Update was not an audience pleasing, warm kind of thing.''

Remember the Rick Nelson song ``Garden Party'': ``... you know you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself.'' This is Macdonald's attitude toward comedy. If he finds a joke funny, it's funny. If the audience doesn't concur, shame on them.

``I did jokes that I knew weren't going to get bigger reactions,'' Macdonald said. ``So I saw (Ohlmeyer's) point. Why would you want some dude who's not trying to please the audience?''

Losing a choice TV gig is only one of the many pitfalls that come with Macdonald's philosophy. Most of America didn't get his movie ``Dirty Work,'' either. ``I know they put the movie out in the summer against blockbusters,'' Macdonald rationalized. ``Some people have told me that's the reason (it bombed). Some people say the film is just (bleeping) horrible. I tend to believe the former. I like the movie. I think it's very funny.''

It's probably fortunate that ``The Norm Show'' will have a staff of writers, who might be more open-minded about serving the audience. Macdonald himself is making no promises. ``I hope the audience is pleased but I don't know how to write for an audience. I only know how to write what I think is funny. If I wanted to please the audience, I would just look and see what the top shows have been for the past decade, then try to ape them. But I don't know how to do that. Nora Ephron knows that.''

Source: Sun-Sentinel


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