TOM SHALES & JAMES ANDREW MILLER
Synopsis from back cover: In their own words, a galaxy of stars – Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Dan Akroyd, Steve Martin, Dana Carvey, Tina Fey, Molly Shannon, Al Franken, Billy Crystal, Chevy Chase, and many others – as well as members of Saturday Night Live's extended family of cast, crew and guests, recall more than a quarter-century's worth of great backstage stories, off-camera gossip, feuds, foibles, drugs, sex, struggles, and calamities. This irresistibly readable book takes us behind the scenes of SNL like no other book ever has.
Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, Back Bay Books, 2003.
How acquired: Bought.
First Line: Saturday Night Live is more than a television show.
My thoughts: I stopped watching Saturday Night Live sometime in the 90's. At first I just gradually lost interest, when I was working a lot, sometimes until 1:00 or 1:30 in the morning. Then I made a conscious decision to stop watching because I had young kids and I felt like the show was no longer funny, it was just raunch. But after reading this book I now feel very nostalgic and want to go back and watch from the very beginning.
The book follows the show chronologically, with chapter headings broken into chunks of time, such as “Exordium: 1975-1976” and “Heyday: 1976-1980”. It's an oral history, in that the majority of the book is in the words of the people interviewed, from cast members and writers to agents, producers and executives. And it's all incredibly fascinating. In the chapters from the later years, there were some cast members I'd never heard of, and a lot of cast members who I am familiar with but had not known were in the cast (Julia Louis-Dreyfus!). The book is long, 600 pages not counting the index in the back, and only goes up to the 2002-2003 season. Looking at the different editions on Goodreads, another updated edition was published in 2014, with “over more than 100 pages of new material”, and I would love to find a copy of that edition just to read those additional pages.