'SNL' Tidbits for March 10, 1999

By Sean Bradley

'Funhouse' Leaving 'SNL'?

"Saturday Night Live" will likely be losing the only reason some people still watch the show: "TV Funhouse," the weekly animation segment written by former "SNL" featured player Robert Smigel.

The segment, which started airing in September 1996, has featured such cartoons as "The Ambiguously Gay Duo," "Fun With Real Audio," and "The X-Presidents," among others. Earlier this week, FOX ordered the pilot of an expanded version of "TV Funhouse" for the 1999-2000 TV season. This means the segment's days on "SNL" are probably numbered.

Petty to Return

Tom Petty has been booked as the musical guest for the April 10 episode of "SNL." It will mark the musician's seventh appearance on the show. His newest album, "ECHO," will be out in the USA on April 7.

The episode's host has not been announced at this time.

'SNL' Among Shows to be Books

As announced here Monday, NBC is in the process of starting a division to sell books.

I just found out the names of some of the shows the network plans on turning into hot book properties ... and "SNL" is among them, along with "Homicide" and "Saved By the Bell."

"Publishing is something the networks have not tapped," David Eun, vice president of NBC Enterprises, tells "The New York Post." The paper also says that the network is currently talking to several big name publishers.

NBC is already moving forward with other synergistic enterprises: It's running ads pushing its home videos of specials such as "Merlin," "Alice in Wonderland," and many "SNL" compilations, and last month flashed an 800 number for viewers to call to order the soundtrack ($29.95) to the miniseries "The '60s."

Right now, neither CBS nor ABC is plugging its own products on the air.

Hill's No 'SNL' Pimp

In a recent issue of "Time" magazine I came across an interesting tidbit on Lauryn Hill's musical guest appearance on "SNL" last December. The Grammy winner revealed that she was asked to participate in the "Pimp Chat" sketch -- "a bit about a street hustler with a talk show" -- which ended up airing without her. The "SNL" folks wanted Hill to appear in the sketch as a female pimp.

Hill was undecided at first, but eventually refused to do the sketch because she felt it unfairly stereotyped black women.

Crystal, Murray Pick Up Awards

"The 13th Annual American Comedy Awards" will air Monday, March 15 at 8 p.m. on FOX. The award winners were announced today, and two former "SNLers" picked up statues:

Billy Crystal, "70th Annual Academy Awards"

Bill Murray, "Rushmore"

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