'SNL' Tidbits for March 8, 1999

By Sean Bradley

'SNL' Cheered

"SNL," and its late night competitor "Mad TV," earned a cheer in the Cheers & Jeers section of last week's issue of "TV Guide" (Feb. 27 - March 5).

In regards to "SNL," the magazine had this to say: "'Saturday Night Live' did a series of spots spoofing VH1's commercials for 'Behind the Music.' The best one featured Chris Kattan lounging on a fire escape with Groucho eyebrows playing John Oates, the less visible half of Hall and Oates. He concedes that he may not have been much of a singer or a guitarist but feebly boasts that he came up with the idea for the hand claps on the duo's hit 'Private Eyes.'"

It went on to call the skit "A-sharp."

E! Stars Saw the Parody on 'SNL'

Todd Newton and Melissa Rivers saw the recent "SNL" parody of their pre-awards show celeb chat. Jimmy Fallon and Cheri Oteri portrayed Newton and Rivers in the sketch, which had the two standing outside the Clinton impeachment while politicians and actors came down the red carpet.

Outside the Shrine Auditorium yesterday at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the two E! stars talked briefly with Gwyneth Paltrow, who did a Sharon Stone impression in the "SNL" sketch.

Newton told Paltrow, "I called Cheri Oteri the Monday after the sketch aired, and I told her 'That sketch was so awesome!'"

You may remember that in the sketch Fallon overused the phrase "so awesome" -- a jab at Newton, who often says it. Paltrow told the two that the sketch was done with love.

'SNL' Clinton Special Bombs in Primetime

The primetime ratings for the week of February 22-28, as compiled by Nielsen Media Research, have been released. The primetime compilation "SNL: The Clinton/Lewinsky Scandal Special" ranked 79th, out of the 109 programs which aired on NBC, CBS, ABC, WB, and UPN throughout the week. It scored a 5.3 national Nielsen rating, making it NBC's second least watched program all week. "Lance Burton's Magic" earned the title of NBC's least watched program, scoring a 5.1 for the network.

Hammond Back on 'Conan'

Darrell Hammond has been booked as a guest on the Tuesday, March 16 episode of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

Hammond, a frequent guest of Conan's, will be promoting that weekend's episode of "SNL," hosted by Drew Barrymore with musical guest Garbage.

Also scheduled to guest on "Late Night" that night is another NBC star, "3rd Rock From the Sun's" John Lithgow.

Crystal Movie is Number One at Box Office

Former "SNL" cast member Billy Crystal finally has another box office hit on his hands.

His new film "Analyze This," a Warner Bros. Mafia comedy co-starring Robert De Niro, topped the North American box office with a weekend haul of $17.7 million, according to studio estimates issued Sunday.

In "Analyze This," Crystal plays a shrink and De Niro a stressed-out gangster. Current "SNL" cast member Molly Shannon also appears in the movie as a patient of Crystal's. Reviews were mostly favorable. A Variety poll of critics in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and London showed 23 liked it, two did not, and 10 were mixed.

This film comes after a string of box office bombs for Crystal, including "My Giant," "Fathers' Day," "Forget Paris," and "Mr. Saturday Night." Even the sequel "City Slickers II" was a disapoinment at the box office, grossing about $80 million less than the original.

"Analyze This" looks to be Cystal's first big hit since "City Slickers" in 1991.

Spade Plays 'Joe Dirt'

Former "SNL" funny man David Spade, who currently belongs to the excellent "Just Shoot Me" ensemble, is set to star in and co-write Warner Bros.' comedy "The Adventures of Joe Dirt." Spade will shoot the film while on hiatus from the NBC hit comedy.

According to "The Hollywood Reporter," the film focuses on trailer-park 8-year-old boy whose parents deliberately abandon him at the Grand Canyon while on a family vacation. Several years later, through a series of flashbacks, he tells his story to a DJ on the air and captivates the city.

The Spade comedy "Lost and Found" will be released in April.

NBC Starts Book Business?

Are more "SNL" books on the way?

NBC is considering starting a division to sell books, according to "The New York Post." The net, which often runs ads hyping video sales of "SNL" compilations and other shows, wants to start selling books based on some of its shows.

While NBC executives wouldn't reveal specific publishers that have been contacted, David Eun, vice president of NBC Enterprises, says "We're very much invovlved right now in thinking about book titles for our programs."

Chicago's Second City Comic Del Close Dead

Del Close, an actor and director instrumental in developing the improvisational spirit of Chicago's Second City comedy review, is dead at age 64, a hospital said Friday.

Close, whose dark comedic style shaped the careers of Bill Murray, the late John Belushi, and many others, died Thursday at Illinois Masonic Medical Center where he was being treated for heart and respiratory problems.

His death came a day after a number of Second City alumni, led by Murray, gathered at the hospital to fete Close in what they called a "pre-wake."

Alumni of Del Close and the "ImprovOlympic" include such former and current "SNL" cast members as Mike Myers, Chris Farley, David Koechner, and Tim Meadows.

Close appeared in eleven movies, including Dana Carvey's "Oppurtunity Knocks." Additionaly, he briefly served as "SNL's" improv coach.

'SNLers' on the Tube

Here are appearances "SNL" alumni will be making on late night talk shows this week:

"Tonight Show with Jay Leno," NBC

* Wed 3/10: former cast member Billy Crystal

"Late Night with Conan O'Brien," NBC

* Fri 3/12: cast member Will Ferrell (Rerun 1/7/99)

"Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher," ABC

* Tue 3/9: former cast member Victoria Jackson
* Wed 3/10: former cast member Harry Shearer
* Fri 3/12: former cast member Janeane Garofalo

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