Thursday, December 16, 1999
Never again "Saturday Night "? Maybe not.
by Lisa de Moraes
NBC has promised the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith that it will never rebroadcast a recent "Saturday Night Live" [SNL] sketch in which cast members, pretending to be pop stars, say that Jews own all the banks and that Christians have forgiven them for "killing our Lord."
At least that's what NBC said last Friday in a letter. Yesterday, the official peacock word was "We currently have it under review."
Meanwhile, "SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels told The TV Column that he's vehemently opposed to any guarantee the sketch won't be run again and says that ADL "trivializes the important work they're supposed to be doing with this kind of nonsense."
The sketch aired earlier this month as part of an "SNL" sendup of the CBS special "And So This Is Christmas," which featured Celine Dion, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan and Babyface singing carols and reminiscing about their childhood holidays.
The parody was in the form of a promo for a CBS show called "And So This Is Hanukah," with "SNL" cast members and guest Christina Ricci appearing as pop stars singing fake Hanukah songs. The faux Celine Dion ("SNL" regular Ana Gasteyer) said that as a child she was told Hanukah "is a holiday celebrated by the people who own all the movie studios and the banks." And Ricci, as Britney Spears, said this time of year "we as Christians take time out to think about forgiving our Jewish friends for killing our Lord."
Rosalyn Weinman, NBC's head of broadcast content policy, assured the ADL in a letter last Friday (a copy of which the ADL sent to The TV Column):
"We have decided that a portion of the sketch, featuring the parodies of Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, was problematic and therefore will be excised from all future broadcasts."
That was in response to a Dec. 7 letter from ADL National Director Abraham Foxman [right] blasting the bit as representing "anti-Semitic stereotypes at their worst."
"To have Spears refer to forgiving Jews 'for having killed our Lord' is no laughing matter," he wrote. "We have worked with the Vatican and others for the last fifty years to educate against this poisonous doctrine and for SNL, in a lame attempt at humor, to revive this notion is unacceptable."
Foxman urged NBC to scrap the skit from reruns because some viewers, "rather than dismiss the words, will nod in approval."
After 25 years, Michaels countered, people know that "SNL" is a satire. "What satire is supposed to do is provoke discussion," he told The TV Column.
"We're not pro-drugs, but we make jokes about drugs; we're not pro-ignorance, but we make jokes about ignorance, and the only way you can do it is by showing ignorance.
"The idea that any discussion of these ideas is out of bounds is idiotic to me," he said.