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October 9, 2015

Betty White May Host 'Saturday Night Live' Solo After All

by Gary Susman, posted Mar 3rd 2010 2:30PM
Good news, bad news: The bad news is, while 'Saturday Night Live' will indeed have a "Women in Comedy" special in April, Betty White won't be part of it. The good news is, 'SNL' producers are still in talks with her about the solo hosting gig that her nearly half a million Facebook fans have been clamoring for.

The news came from a panel discussion in New York on Tuesday night about 'SNL,' whose attendees included longtime 'SNL' executive producer Lorne Michaels and 'SNL' head writer/'Weekend Update' anchor Seth Meyers. "I think it's happening," Meyers told Jezebel.com, about a White hosting gig. "We would love to have her."

Last week, word from the 'SNL' braintrust was that the show would respond to the Facebook petition and have White host, but not by herself. Rather, she'd be part of a 'Women in Comedy' special that would include 'SNL' alumnae Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Molly Shannon. At last night's panel event, however, Michaels told Jezebel that April's 'Women in Comedy' event would not include White (he did, however, confirm Fey's participation), but that a White hosting appearance would be a separate episode, and that talks with White's camp were still ongoing.

At the panel event, Michaels also weighed in for the first time on the late-night wars, which affected two of his protégés, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon. Michaels remains a late-night power on weeknights as well as Saturdays (besides 'SNL,' Michaels also produces 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon'), but during January's Jay Leno-vs.-Conan O'Brien bloodbath, Michaels sat on the sidelines. According to the Los Angeles Times, Michaels had been disgruntled over not having been named an executive producer of 'The Tonight Show' when O'Brien left 'Late Night' to host 'Tonight' last spring.

Despite not having lifted a finger to help O'Brien in January, Michaels had nothing but kind words last night for the man he made a star by hiring him, first as an 'SNL' writer and later as the rookie host of 'Late Night.' According to the Hollywood Reporter, Michaels said on Tuesday that he gave the untried O'Brien the plum 'Late Night' job in 1993 because he was "very smart," "just brilliant" and had an "amazing character." Despite a couple of years when NBC had so little confidence in him that his contract was measured out in weeks, O'Brien eventually developed a devoted audience and prevailed. "And I'm sure he will again," Michaels said, referring to O'Brien's possible launch of a new late-night show on Fox this fall.

Michaels also echoed the oft-made criticisms of NBC's mismanagement of the 'Tonight Show' transition going back to 2004, when the network got Leno to agree to retire in 2009 to make way for O'Brien (and to keep him from jumping ship to another network in the meantime). "You can't tell someone that you want to stay married for five years" and then divorce them, Michaels said. By the time Leno's contract was up, he had become the one NBC feared to lose. "There was a lot of worry and concern" that Leno would end up on a competing network, Michaels said, explaining the decision to put Leno on in prime time. But 'The Jay Leno Show' failed, which in turn hurt O'Brien because his 'Tonight Show' did "not necessarily" have a good lead-in anymore.

Now that Leno, 59, is back at 'Tonight,' Fallon, 35, is effectively his heir apparent, and he won't have to wait as long to move up to 'Tonight' as he might have if O'Brien were still hosting. That means Michaels, who said Tuesday he's in no hurry to retire, could end up executive producer of 'Tonight' after all.

Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' celebrated its first anniversary on the air. Fallon marked the occasion with a song commemorating the first year's memorable moments and lamenting that he's gained 15 pounds.

Jimmy Fallon's 'Freshman 15' Song

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