Saturday Night Live? Still D.O.A.

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by JeffCNY, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. JeffCNY

    JeffCNY Agent

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    Of all the most DVD-eligable,beautifully logical and widely acknowledged as worthy TV material out there, surely "Saturday Night Live" ranks mighty high on that list.

    Therefore, it's disheartening to see that it exists on DVD only as a thing of fragments, tatters and "Best Of" compilations.

    The announcement of forthcoming "Best Of" compilations culled from the show's early years seem to be the final nail in the coffin for any notion of seeing complete, chronological and uncut shows any time soon... if ever.

    The recent huge SNL Musical Segments compilation suggests that there's not an issue with clearing music rights (as in the case of SCTV), so I can't understand what logic prevailed in separating the comedy from the music, and one cast member from another, into isolated releases.

    Season Boxed Sets... it all would have been so easy, so welcomed and warmly embraced by consumers. But it'll never be, I fear. Not when there's $$$ to be made by releasing ten "Best of Adam Sandler" discs first. What a world.

    Jeff
     
  2. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    It's been covered many times before. That compilation would barely scratch the surface of all the music that would need to be cleared for complete, uncut season sets. Think off all the sketches that have music as well and you will see that it would take prohibitive effort and cost.
     
  3. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Cinematographer

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    Also, there are several YEARS of the show that most people would have no desire to own whatsoever. Sure, the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" years would sell, as would the stuff from the years with Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, Chris Rock, David Spade and Adam Sandler, but how many people would buy season sets of the years when Lorne Michaels wasn't involved with the show? There's a reason you'll never see a "Best of Denny Dillon" DVD release. How many people would buy season sets from the Tina Fey era when Will Ferrell and Tracy Morgan aren't there to make it watchable?
     
  4. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    I'd buy a 'Best of Denny Dillon.' But you're right - I'd probably be one of the few.

    But seriously - how much would a single season of SNL sell? On average... 250,000? 500,000? If they split up each season, there's 60 sets that could sell for $30-40 each over a period of about 6 or 7 years. That means the show is worth $450 million-1.2 billion in DVD revenue. That's right - a billion!

    This is a hot property - I don't know how many episodes there are - about 550-600 I think - but that means each episode is worth 1-2 million each. NBC/Broadway Video/Universal shouldn't give us this music clearance bullshit anymore. Just the release of the SNL25 music box and the forthcoming 'first five years' DVD which includes a lot of music. They could be making a fortune, so I suspect that there are some clauses in their big long-term contract with E! that prevents full/half season DVD releases.

    That said - if they continue with these 'best of' releases, how about a 'Saturday Night Live - the Complete Andy Kaufman Collection' with all of his appearances - including the ones that didn't make it on the air? That would make a nice disc.
     
  5. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    Two words: Eddie Murphy... although he wasn't there for that entire period - but most of it. It was practically the Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo Show for a few years.
     
  6. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    I sincerely doubt that it would sell nearly anywhere near those numbers...possibly the first five seasons would do well, but I don't know if any others would sell more than 75,000 units.
     
  7. Gord Lacey

    Gord Lacey Cinematographer

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    Hehe...I thought it was closer to a trillon dollars. I don't think you can just make up random numbers and then act as though it's an amazing amount. Well...you can...but it's not reality.

    Michael, stop talking out of your ass. The people that work at Broadway Video know the show, they know the product, and they know that putting together season sets won't work right now. They also know how long it takes to clear the music, because THEY'VE DONE IT. Speculating on sales number, how much something will sell, and how much something is worth is absolutely pointless when you don't know their product.

    Sorry if I sound pissed, but I have a number of friends who work there, and are in charge of this sort of thing. I don't appreciate them someone putting them down, or the jobs they do, based on incorrect speculation about how their business works.

    Gord
     
  8. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    Gord, would you be able to pass on some suggestions for future best-of sets?
     
  9. Gord Lacey

    Gord Lacey Cinematographer

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    Sure thing. They're pretty open to suggestions when it comes to SNL, with the understanding that some things just can't be done (season sets).

    Gord
     
  10. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    Cool, I'll PM you with a list of Best-ofs I think would be good.
     
  11. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    Who says that the upcoming "First Five Years" won't have any replaced music?

    For example in Adam Sandler's best of (or maybe Farley's, I can't remember) they replaced the Van Halen music from the "Schmitt's Gay" sketch, which to me, ruined the whole thing. Music replacement happened at least once.
     
  12. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    Music rights aside, 90 minute comedy-variety series don't sell well on DVD. Maybe the sole exceptions are the SCTV Network 90 shows, but for SNL that's not an option.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: For those of you here in the USA, after a rerun airs of the now completed 2004-2005 season at 1 AM (most time zones) you can catch a classic SNL show from the 1970s, 80s, and the 90s in its entirety -- musical guests and all! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I have a DVD recorder, and I buy blsnk DVDs from Best Buy at $1 for each DVD-R disc (sometimes less during sales). These SNL shows air every Sunday morning! (If only NBC would air them every day). The upcoming rerun this weekend: The May 1976 first season finale with Buck Henry as host and John Belushi doing his Samurai routine!!


    JEFF
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I mentioned this previously in another
    thread....

    During the late '90s Time/Life released
    The Best of Saturday Night Live on
    VHS by YEAR. It started with 1975 with each
    90 minute tape being devoted to a particular
    year that went right through 1997 (I think).
    It was a compilation of the very best skits
    with absolutely no music acts included.

    They even released The Best of Mr. Bill
    and The Best of John Goodman.

    I still have those tapes.

    I wonder what happened with the Time/Life
    contract. I would guess if Time/Life still
    owned the rights to the sets they released that
    they would have already taken advantage of DVD.

    I'm not very fond of these BEST OF sets that
    Lions Gate is releasing. Understood, the format
    they are using is probably the only one they
    were able to secure rights to (releases devoted
    to actors), but SNL needs to be represented in
    compilations devoted to each year.
     
  14. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    You're right, I was speculating. I have plenty of contacts at BV as well, but that doesn't mean I believe everything they say. They're not allowed to elaborate on certain topics. Still, on the ass-talking front, I certainly underestimated the music issues and potential sales, and we'll have to wait and see how much of the music from the Five Years special will make it to the DVD.

    But the point I was trying to make was that there might be more to it than music rights. Do you know more about their deal with the E! network, and if this is preventing certain types of DVD releases?

    I'll go with Ron's suggestion, though - Best Ofs by season. Back in the 80s there were even releases of full episodes (was it Starmaker that released these?) but IIRC some of these had music cut out.

    Other suggestions:

    -Again, the Complete Andy Kaufman

    -A Saturday Night Live short films collection - actually, a company like Rhino or Shout Factory could release something like this. They could license the films directly from the filmmakers (at least from the first 10 years) since these films are not owned by Broadway Video or NBC. Each episode usually had a short film, some directed by people like Jonathan Demme, Bill Paxton and Steven Spielberg) so there's a lot to choose from.

    -The Best of Eddie Murphy - volumes 2, 3, 4, etc. I think he was the most talented cast member ever on the show.

    -The Best of Weekend Update - multiple volumes by era

    -The Best of Buck Henry (probably unlikely, but there's a lot of material to choose from)

    -The Best of Eric Idle (also unlikely)

    -The Best of Paul Simon

    -The Best of Alec Baldwin (looks like this one's coming soon)

    -A commercial collection

    -the 15th anniversary special

    -a collection of never-before-seen sketches from the dress rehearsals

    -the complete first episode, including unaired bits (such as Billy Crystal's appearance) from the dress rehearsal.

    Also, on Best Of compilations, a great special feature would be to include every sketch featuring a recurring character. 'The complete Samurai' would make a neat bonus feature on a Belushi compilation, and the same goes for the Coneheads on an Aykroyd collection.
     
  15. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    I have also been taping the late night NBC Saturday night airings. Complete with musical numbers.

    To be totally honest, a lot of them do not hold up that well. There is always the thought that the original cast was the best. Watching a lot of these again, they aren't as funny as they once were.

    Plus, the format of the first season or so was quite different. A lot more music. On some episodes, there are only a couple skits. And, the humor is very dated at times.

    Meanwhile, some of the early 90's seasons hold up quite well.

    As mentioned, even though they probably COULD get the music rights straightened out, I don't think Lorne wants to do this, as there are some episodes he never allowed to air a second time.
     
  16. George See

    George See Second Unit

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    Yes! If anyone wants to make suggestions to their inside people this one should be made. I'd buy this in a second. Of course the best time to put this out would have been during the 20 year anniversary of his death, when there was all that Andy Kaufman returns hype going around.


    That 100k sales number for Will Ferral prolly wouldn't even be that high if not for the cult/internet popularity of the cowbell skit. I've got a hunch that Will Ferral Vol 2 didn't sell as well. Maybee i'm wrong I don't actually know the numbers.
     
  17. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    I was surprised by that - I would have expected more than that. I made my earlier speculations based on the sales of Chapelle's Show (season 2 selling over a million in a week), but that's become such a cultural phenomenon (and at a much lower price) that the two can't be compared.

    I chatted with Lorne Michaels at the SNL season finale after-party last month and I wish I'd brought up DVD/music/syndication - to get it directly from the horse's mouth.

    Also, the SNL DVDs are currently being handled by Lion's Gate, correct? Any idea when/if they might go to Universal? I wonder how they'd approach it.

    Other suggestions I thought of:
    -A Sports collection, with sketches from shows hosted by sports-related figures - from George Steinbrenner to John Madden to Hulk Hogan to Tom Brady
    -The SNL Mardi Gras show (just kidding)
     
  18. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    Well, Jon....the overall quality of a 90 minute show, live or otherwise (SNL always had pre-filmed bits) is going to drag in spots each week. The early years are the same in that regard as 2005.

    Obviously some of the 1970s humor is dated, but funny is funny! [​IMG] Only the very earliest shows had more than 2 musical numbers (often by more than 1 musical guest). The current basic format was pretty much set by the fifth episode late in 1975.

    Personally I prefer the Eddie Murphy / Joe Piscopo years (early 1980s, Dick Ebersol shows only) the best. The writing was most consistent during that period.
     
  19. Tony S

    Tony S Stunt Coordinator

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    If season sets are not possible, I would suggest complete compilations such as:

    The Complete Church Lady Collection
    The Complete Wayne's World Collection
    The Complete Canteen Boy Collection
    The Complete Coneheads Collection

    They could release these sets under a name such as "SNL Gold" with each set having unedited sketches. Each set would not have any sketches that are included in other "SNL Gold" editions. Each set could have bonus sketches, for example the Wayne's World set could have other Dana Carvey sketches and Mike Myers sketches. The bonus sketches could be mostly sketches that don't have music, in order to cut down on costs. Each set should have a decent running time (two to three hours).

    Another thing they could do is combine, for example, Chris Farley's Matt Foley sketches & his Chris Farley Show sketches into one set. The bonus sketches could include other Farley sketches such as the Chip & Dale sketch.

    The problem with Lion's Gate's releases are that most of them are just an anniversary special or best of episode, as it aired on tv with edited sketches and a short running time. They should put some thought into it and release some decent collecitons.
     
  20. John Carr

    John Carr Stunt Coordinator

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    Tony - Great Post! I'll second your idea of themed sets, especially the Church Lady and Wayne's World. Never could figure out why SNL never saw the income potential...?
     

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