April 24, 1976, Lorne Michaels, producer of NBC's Saturday Night,
made an on-air offer of $3000 to The Beatles if they would re-unite
and perform on the show. The offer was a hilarious spoof on the
absurdly high reunion offers that were regularly making the news
at the time, in which The Beatles were offered as much as one
hundred million dollars for a single concert.
Needless to say, The Beatles didn't take Michaels up on his offer,
but it turned out to be precisely the entrée that was needed
to get The Rutles onto American television. Lorne Michaels tells
the story, in his introduction to the "I Must Be In Love"
the Rutles clip made its world premiere on NBC's
Saturday Night, since the Rutland Weekend Television programme
from which it was taken wouldn't air in the U.K. for six more
Air Date: October 2nd, 1976
Host: Eric Idle
Musical Guest: Joe Cocker, Stuff
Special Guest: Richard Belzer
New Chevy Chase: Impostor (Richard
Belzer) attempts to replace hospitalized Chevy Chase.
Eric Idle's Monologue: Jane Curtin
interrupts Eric's screaming version of "Here Comes The Sun". Genetics: Doctor (Idle) offers expecting
couple their choice of genetic traits. KLOG
DJ: AM/FM sister stations share the
use of one disc jockey (Dan Aykroyd). Killer Bees: Idle ruins a Killer
Bees sketch with his British dialect. Joe Cocker performs "You Are So Beautiful"
Baba Wawa: Before leaving NBC, Baba
Wawa (Gilda Radner) explains why. Weekend Update with Jane Curtin: Amateur
drawings recount boxing match between Norton and Ali; Garrett
Morris reports on prank circumcision of Michelangelo's David;
Johnny Carson clip shows Ed Ames (John Belushi) attacking the
silhouette. Epifix: Druggist (Dan Aykroyd) uses
product injection to relieve headache. The Rutles: Lying
Idle tricked Lorne Michaels out of money intended for The Beatles.
Substitute video shows performance of British group The Rutles.
Nazi Hangout: A pair of spies (Idle)
& (Dan Aykroyd) discuss plans. .Joe Cocker & Joe Cocker (John Belushi) perform
"Feelin' Alright" Dragnet: Joe Friday (Dan Aykroyd)
and companion (Idle) wear women's clothes. John Belushi explains
to Idle that British drag humor doesn't work in America. Drag Racing Today: Idle and Dan Aykroyd
race on foot and in women's clothing. Stuff performs "Foots" The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau / Pets & Petting:
Idle pours cheesecake, wine, coffee and
more into a fish tank. Ken Norton: Norton (Garrett Morris)
insists he's a better boxer than Mohammad Ali. Cufflinks Of The Gods: Erica Viedonagen
(Laraine Newman) explores possibility of alien comic existence.
Pong:While playing Pong, Al Franken
and Tom Davis relay answers to a tough Math problem.
During the first season of "Saturday Night Live," (April, 1976)
producer Lorne Michaels parodied the multimillion dollar offers
for a Beatles reunion by publicly offering the "generous" sum
of $3000 live on the air. Little did Michaels know that the
offer nearly succeeded, with John and Paul going so far as to
call a taxi to take them to the studios from the nearby Dakota.
(Where the duo were watching the show together) As John relates
in his "Playboy" interview, "We nearly got into a cab, but we
were actually too tired." The program would milk the "offer"
for all it was worth. These included: a second plea from Michaels
(where he upped the offer to $3200), the launch of the Rutles
on SNL (October, 1976), and joking asides from Michaels to both
George Harrison (November, 1976) and Paul McCartney (February,
1993) when they appeared as musical guests.
is pretty chintzy."
Harrison to Lorne Michaels on an SNL episode, upon finding out
he'd only get 1/4 of the $3,000. Aired on November 20th, 1976,this
episode also featured George's Crackerbox Palace and This Song
videos... which leads us to the 2nd time Neil appeared on SNL...
by Eric Idle, Neil appeared
throughout George Harrison's "Crackerbox Palace" video:
first as the pram-pushing nanny, then as one of the Church Police,
then as the bathrobe guy with a duck on his head. Several other
people in the video are wearing something out of the Neil Innes
costume box; the guy who kinda looks like Graham Chapman is wearing
Neil's Stoop Solo gorilla chest and that little Indian guy who
looks really familiar is wearing his Union Jack pajamas!
in George Harrison's "Crackerbox Palace"
to see bigger pic without circles
also appeared in George's "True Love" video
as the guardian angel, and in 1979 he directed George
Harrison's "Blow Away" video.
Eric Idle's hosting stint on Saturday Night
went so well that he was invited back to host a second show later
that season, on April 23, 1977. One of the musical guests on that
show was Neil Innes.
Great Britain had been going through enormous financial
difficulties in the late seventies, and Eric Idle was determined
to do something about it. This episode of Saturday Night is conducted
as the "Save Great Britain Telethon." Idle makes an
amusing apology as the show begins, and throughout the episode,
viewers are asked to pledge money to help keep Great Britain afloat.This
was sufficient cause to bring former Rutle Ron Nasty, now living
in New York, out of seclusion. In support of the telethon, Nasty
plays "Cheese and Onions" and Neil Innes performs Shangri-la.
if you want my main impression, I felt, having read Catch-22
and the idea of trying to get out of doing your 30 bombing
missions over Germany or whatever, I felt like one episode
of Saturday Night Live was equivalent of doing 30 missions
of bombing over enemy country. And all the sort of things
that could go wrong. Such was the tension.
we came to doing Shangri-la, I'm saying, 'Well, I do this
bit over with the band, and it'd be nice to go to a silly
place. Can we make some cut-out flowers, it doesn't matter,
just be naff, just it'd be nice to walk to one place to
another.' The director was going, 'Oh, I don't know, yeah,
oh, whatever ' and I remember at one point he was sort
of clutching his hands to his head saying, 'We don't have
a show, we don't have a show!' He
was a bit of a baby, actually. It makes perfect sense to
anyone else. You do the verses by the band and you walk
over to a few cutout flowers and do something daft! Reality
in the verses and then you go to Shangri-la in the chorus.
Anyone who's got a book on Shangri-la with a map knows that
that's exactly what happens!
Charles, being the queen look-alike, was flown over to be
the queen. To do the kneeing the mountie in the groin and
what have you. And she was on the same plane as me. But
I was in business class, and she was in coach. But the thing
is that woman I actually didn't realize until
we got to New York that she was on the same plane. But the
trouble is, you know she's very good at impersonating the
queen, the only thing is, she doesn't know when to stop!
And so she does it all the time! And I had to share a limo
from Kennedy Airport into New York with her, and I wanted
to chew my own foot off after the journey. Because she just
wouldn't let it stop! I'd say, 'How do you find New York?'
(with a queeny accent) 'Oh, it's most interesting.'
I tried everything to make her drop it. I'll
dress rehearsals the dress rehearsals was always
an hour longer than you need everyone goes back to
their dressing rooms. Then about 20 minutes before you go
on air, you have a look, and they've pinned up the running
order, and you actually see then what is left in. And if
you're left in, you get on with it. And if you're cut out,
you just you're cut out! And a very serious party
afterwards. And then everyone goes to sleep until Wednesday
year or so later, because the Rutles would have been out,
and the New Musical Express, better known as the NME, rang
me up and said, 'We've got a bootleg Beatle record, and
there's a Rutles song on it. What have you got to say?'
And I said, 'I don't know. How does it go? Can you play
it to me over the phone?' And they played it to me over
the phone, and it turned out to be the Saturday Night Live
recording of Cheese and Onions. And I said, 'You twits,
it's me!' It's the people putting the bootleg Beatle album
wrong. But they thought they'd really got me."
Date: April 23rd, 1977
Host: Eric Idle
Neil Innes and Alan Price
Special Guest: Jeanette Charles
Potato Torture: Only one way for British soldier (Eric
Idle) to make Irishman (Bill Murray) talk. Eric Idle's Monologue: Idle and Queen Elizabeth II (Jeanette
Charles, who also plays the queen in All You Need Is Cash) host
a Save Great Britain telethon. The American Dope Growers Union: "Look for the union label..."
The Nixon Interviews: Richard Nixon (Dan Aykroyd) is a
tiresome interview for David Frost (Idle). The Telethon: $20 has been raised since the monologue.
Alan Price performs "Poor People" "Body Language":
Eric Idle narrates a Gary Weis film on the subject. (Eric appears
as the man who's body language shows us that he needs to visit
the bathroom. Neil appears first as a hapless man who buys insurance
then promptly gets hit by a car, then as the man who's body language
tells us "I am drunk.") Weekend
Update with Jane Curtin: Bill Murray delivers editorial on
spanking, recalls bad memories; Emily Litella (Gilda Radner) sings
"I Will Swallow Him" for Tom Snyder. Heavy Wit Championship: Boxers (Eric Idle and John Belushi)
seek laughs. Rutle Ron Nasty (Neil Innes)
performs "Cheese & Onions" The Battle of Britain: Low-budget British war film. Neil Innes
performs "Shangri-La" Plain Talk:
Eric Idle and Dan Aykroyd perform "Gibberish", a sketch from Rutland
Weekend Television. Flight Precautions: Flight attendant Sherry (Laraine Newman)
heeds gun-toting passengers. Alan Price performs "In Times Like These" The Telethon: Bill Murray buys grape juice with the telethon's