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Weekend Update is a Saturday Night Live sketch that comments on and parodies current events. It is the show's longest running recurring sketch, having been on since the show's first broadcast, and is typically presented in the middle of the show immediately after the first musical performance. One or two of the players are cast in the role of news anchor, presenting gag news items based on current events and acting as hosts for occasional editorials, commentaries, or other performances by other cast members or guests.
Weekend Update (1975–1980)
Chevy Chase (1975–1976)
Weekend Update was created by original anchor Chevy Chase and SNL writer Herb Sargent, and appeared on the first SNL broadcast on October 11, 1975. Chase popularized several catchphrases during the segment, such as his "I'm Chevy Chase... and you're not" greeting; and his repeated announcement that "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead". When Weekend Update began, Chase was consistently on the phone presumably talking to his lover, and would talk until realizing he was "on air." Chase would always end Weekend Update with "That's the news. Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow."
In addition, Garrett Morris parodied the practice of a picture insert of a person simultaneously giving the news read in sign language for the hearing impaired in "The News for the Hard of Hearing." Chase would sometimes repeat the top story at the end of the segment, while Morris simply cupped his mouth and shouted the headline loudly.
Jane Curtin (1976–1980)
Jane Curtin substituted for Chase during Season 2 for a few shows due to Chase's injury and replaced him when he left in 1976 and stayed as anchor until the end of Season 5 in 1980. Curtin finished Season 2 solo, but was then paired with co-anchors Dan Aykroyd (1977–1978) and Bill Murray (1978–1980), with Aykroyd being promoted to "Station Manager" in September 1978.
A frequent feature of Update during this time was "Point/Counterpoint", a send-up of the then-current 60 Minutes segment of the same name with James J. Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander. SNL's version of "Point/Counterpoint" featured Curtin and Aykroyd making ad hominem attacks on each other's positions on a variety of topics. Aykroyd regularly began his reply with "Jane, you ignorant slut", which became another of the many SNL catch phrases (Curtin frequently began her reply with "Dan, you pompous ass").
Other popular running features were John Belushi giving editorials that usually ended with him working himself into a frenzy and stating "But Noooooo...." When Curtin would try to calm him down, Belushi would promptly raise a fist at her and scream, "DON'T PUSH ME, CURTIN!" Also included was Gilda Radner's character Emily Litella (later Roseanne Roseannadanna). Radner's Litella character was apt to misinterpreting topics (leading her to present editorials on such things as the Eagle Rights Amendment) and not being aware of her error until Curtin would correct her, at which promptly, Litella would cheerfully say, "Never mind." During Curtin's tenure as host, she opened each Weekend Update segment with Roger Grimsby's "Here now the news" sign-on, and closed with Chase's "That's the news. Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow".
Rocket's final appearance was on the second-to-last episode of the season, airing on March 7, 1981 and hosted by Bill Murray. For that episode, Weekend Update received a one-time name and set change to Saturday Night NewsLine, and featured three segments: science edition, hosted by Dr. Jonathan Lear (Mark King), arts and leisure corespondent Bill Murray, and news by Rocket. Rocket signed off each week by saying "Good night and watch out."
Prior to the final episode of the series, Jean Doumanian and most of the cast was fired, including Rocket. Chevy Chase hosted the last episode and anchored Weekend Update, as he had on his previous appearances as host.
SNL NewsBreak (1981–1982)
The anchor position changed hands frequently under Dick Ebersol, executive producer of SNL from 1981 to 1985. Brian Doyle-Murray was teamed first with Mary Gross, then going solo for three months, then back with Mary Gross for one more month before finally being teamed with Christine Ebersole for the remainder of the season. Doyle-Murray signed off each week with "Goodnight, and good news."
Saturday Night News (1982–1985)
Brad Hall took over the desk of the retitled Saturday Night News in 1982 through most of the 1983 season. For the rest of the 1983–1984 season, and into the next, there were no regular anchors whatsoever – both cast members and SNL guest-hosts took turns at the chair (Hall himself left the show at the end of the 1983–1984 season). In December 1984, Christopher Guest became the new anchor.
The return of Weekend Update
Dennis Miller (1985–1991)
In 1985, Lorne Michaels returned to produce the show, bringing the Weekend Update name with him. The new anchor was Dennis Miller, who remained in the chair for six years, the longest run for any one Weekend Update anchor. Miller opened the segments by saying "Good evening, and what can I tell ya?" and signed off by saying "Guess what, folks? That's the news, and I am outta here!" He would then scribble nonsense on his script, sometimes throwing it into the air. Miller left in 1991.
Kevin Nealon (1991–1994)
Kevin Nealon took over with his "Mr. Subliminal" character and as the straightman in many highlights such as "Operaman" and "Cajun Man" (with both characters being played by Adam Sandler), and Chris Farley's "Bennett Brauer" character. Nealon had a three-year stint at the Update desk before requesting his departure, as he felt his time behind the desk was drawing away from other acting opportunities on the show. Nealon signed off with the tagline "I'm Kevin Nealon, and that's news to me".
Norm Macdonald (1994–1997)
Norm Macdonald, who Chase called "the only other guy who did [the segment] funny", would take over the role for Season 20, harkening to the days of Chase and Curtin by reading contrived news stories but acting as if he were a legitimate news anchor. Al Franken, whose history with SNL dated back to 1975, had been lobbying to replace Nealon as Weekend Update host – and left the show after losing the anchor spot. Macdonald would open each segment with "I'm Norm Macdonald, and now the fake news".
Running gags by Macdonald included punchlines involving Frank Stallone and Germans loving David Hasselhoff. In his last two seasons, he introduced another recurring gag where he would read a news story and then record a "note to self" on a tape recorder, regarding the story he had just read. One of the most frequent guest correspondents during Macdonald's run was Joe Blow (played by Colin Quinn), a blue-collar guy who would rant about things that bother him. He would often make Macdonald uncomfortable and always ask when they were "gonna go for a beer together", to which Macdonald would always end up blowing him off. His sign off was "that's the way it is."
Another common topic of Macdonald's jokes was O.J. Simpson after his arrest and trial for murder; one example was "A down-and-out O.J. Simpson...has decided to go back to doing what he does best: Killing people." SNL writer Jim Downey recalled that "we did, like three solid years of, like, 60 shows of O.J. jokes in a row." Macdonald made his final appearance as Weekend Update anchor in December 1997, after NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer—a longtime friend of Simpson, who had previously told Michaels to not let his friendship affect the show—demanded his dismissal from the segment, despite Michaels' protest that making the change in the middle of the season would be difficult for the show. Macdonald himself stated that he did not believe that the Simpson jokes were the cause for his firing.
Colin Quinn (1998–2000)
Macdonald was replaced by Colin Quinn, who started on the first episode after Macdonald had been removed, and served through the 1999–2000 season. His very first edition of Weekend Update began with "Have you ever gone to a bar and found that your favorite bartender was replaced with a guy named Steve? -pause- Well I'm Steve, what can I get you?" His sign-off was "I'm Colin Quinn, that's my story and I'm sticking to it" (a line from the Collin Raye song "That's My Story").
For the first half of the 1998–1999 season, Quinn would do a pre-desk monologue, where he would provide commentary and rant about the week's biggest news stories. This feature was discontinued after the January 16, 1999 episode.
Quinn stepped down from Weekend Update after 1999–2000, when he left SNL at the end of the season. He anchored the segment for two and a half seasons.
Return to dual anchors
Jimmy Fallon & Tina Fey (2000–2004)
Over the summer of 2000, cast members auditioned to be replacements. Among the candidates were stand-up comics Kevin Brennan and Jeffrey Ross, and two duos – Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell; and Jimmy Fallon and writer Tina Fey. The latter were chosen, and they made their first on-air appearance that October. Fallon ended each Weekend Update sketch by throwing his pencil at the camera and cheering if he managed to hit it. Fey often signed off with Chase & Curtin's "Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow".
Recurring features of the Fallon/Fey era included the "Update Door", a door on the left of the set where celebrities, as impersonated by SNL cast members (and at one time the Landshark), would walk through to do a commentary; a segment called "Terrible ReEnactments", in which Chris Kattan would do an intentionally bad re-enactment of a news story that had occurred during the week (usually the story involved a celebrity being injured); and regular appearances from Jeff Richards' Drunk Girl character.
Tina Fey & Amy Poehler (2004–2006)
Fallon left to pursue a film career in 2004, and was replaced by fellow cast member Amy Poehler as co-anchor, giving the sketch its first two-woman anchor team.
The 2005–2006 season began with Poehler returning to her seat behind the desk. Fey temporarily left the show after giving birth to her first child and was replaced briefly by Horatio Sanz as co-anchor (Sanz wore horn-rimmed glasses during Fey's absence). Fey returned to the show in October for the season's third live episode.
Amy Poehler & Seth Meyers (2006–2008)
After the departure of Fey, Amy Poehler continued as co-anchor along with new co-anchor Seth Meyers for the 2006–2007 season. The duo began a string of running gags, one of which was introduced during the 2006–2007 season, entitled "Really!?! with Seth and Amy", involved Seth and Amy lambasting celebrities (for example Alberto Gonzales, Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer, Rod Blagojevich, or Michael Vick) for lack of common sense. Poehler left SNL in fall 2008 to give birth to her first child.
During the 2007–2008 season, two previous hosts returned to the Update desk for one-off appearances – Chevy Chase, as "Senior Political Correspondent"; and Tina Fey, as "Special Women's News Correspondent". Women's News was a running segment during the Fey/Poehler era.Governor Sarah Palin also appeared on Weekend Update once during the 2008–2009 season, and ended the segment with the traditional "Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow" as Amy Poehler had left her seat to perform a 'Sarah Palin rap'.
Return to solo anchor
Seth Meyers (2008–2013)
From October 25, 2008, onward, Meyers anchored the segment alone with Poehler still being credited, but not appearing. On December 6, 2008, Amy Poehler returned four weeks after the birth of her child to do Weekend Update with Meyers, but on the December 13, 2008, Weekend Update segment, Poehler announced to the audience that the show was her last one.
Since then, Meyers has continued anchoring Weekend Update solo. The "Really!?!" celebrity-mocking gag remained, retitled "Really!?! with Seth", and doing it with various hosts and guests such as Tracy Morgan and Jerry Seinfeld in March 2009 and Kermit the Frog in November 2011. In May 2010, Amy Poehler returned to do it once more, alongside Tina Fey as well.
A running gag of this era's season is Bobby Moynihan's portrayal of The Jersey Shore's Snooki. Moynihan displays a certain attraction to Meyers, who makes fun of the general attitude of the cast members of The Jersey Shore as well as Snooki's own personal attributes. Another popular segment is city correspondent Stefon, played by Bill Hader. During his time in office, New York Governor David Paterson (played by Fred Armisen) often appeared as a guest. During the Weekend Update of the show's 36th season's premiere episode, the actual Paterson made a guest appearance next to Armisen.
When Amy Poehler hosted the season premiere of the 36th season, she co-anchored the segment as she traditionally did before her departure.
On the December 17, 2011 episode, which was hosted by Jimmy Fallon, multiple former anchors returned for a "Weekend Update Joke-Off." Along with Seth Meyers, the anchors included Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.
Seth Meyers signs off with "For Weekend Update, I'm Seth Meyers! Good night!"
Entertainment Weekly confirmed that Amy Poehler would return to Weekend Update Thursday for at least two broadcasts as co-anchor in Fall 2009. For the third episode of Weekend Update Thursday, Seth Meyers anchored solo. After each episode, the anchor(s) would throw to Parks and Recreation. Lorne Michaels had stated that there would be six more episodes of Weekend Update Thursday, however, the spring 2010 episodes were scrapped.
Poehler returned on the February 18, 2012 episode to co-anchor the show, and did 'Really? with Seth and Amy' once more.
On May 12, 2013, NBC announced that Meyers will be the new host of Late Night in 2014 succeeding Jimmy Fallon as Fallon will take over as the new host of The Tonight Show. Meyers will leave SNL in 2014 to prepare for his new Late Night gig, but sources say that he will stay on as a cast member for the first half of season 39, but NBC and SNL are likely to find a new host for Weekend Update before the new season premieres.
A total of 32 people have anchored the Weekend Update desk. Below is a complete list of any and all who have served as an anchor at one time or another, and the season(s) which they served. Note that throughout most of 1984, different cast members, special guests, or the weekly host handled the task. Those individuals (denoted in italics) are also listed below.
Weekend Update (1975–1981)
Season 1 (1975–1976)
- Chevy Chase (Last: October 30, 1976)
Season 2 (1976–1977)
- Chevy Chase (Last: October 30, 1976)
- Jane Curtin (First: September 25, 1976)
- Jane Curtin and Buck Henry (February 20, 1977)
- Note that Chase began the season as anchor on September 18, but missed the next two episodes due to an injury sustained while performing a sketch in the season's first episode. He was replaced by Curtin during his absence. Chase returned to the show (and the Weekend Update desk) from October 16–30. Curtin permanently took over Weekend Update beginning November 13. Henry co-anchored with Curtin on the Mardi Gras special.
Season 3 (1977–1978)
- Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd
Seasons 4–5 (1978–1980)
- Jane Curtin and Bill Murray (Aykroyd is now "Station Manager")
Season 6 (1980–1981)
- Charles Rocket
- Charles Rocket and Gail Matthius (January 10 to February 21, 1981)
- Saturday Night NewsLine with Jonathan Lear, Bill Murray, and Charles Rocket (March 7, 1981)
- Show host Chevy Chase (April 11, 1981)
Season 7 (1981–1982)
- Brian Doyle-Murray and Mary Gross (October 3–17, 1981)
- Brian Doyle-Murray (October 31, 1981 to February 6, 1982)
- Brian Doyle-Murray and Mary Gross (February 20 to March 20, 1982)
- Brian Doyle-Murray and Christine Ebersole (March 27 to May 22, 1982)
Saturday Night News
Season 8 (1982–1983)
Season 9 (1983–1984)
- Brad Hall (Last: January 21, 1984)
- Show host Don Rickles (January 28, 1984)
- Show host Robin Williams (February 11, 1984)
- Joe Piscopo (February 18, 1984)
- Show host Billy Crystal (as Fernando) (March 17, 1984)
- Show Host Edwin Newman (February 25, 1984)
- Show host Michael Douglas (April 7, 1984)
- Show host George McGovern (April 14, 1984)
- Show host Billy Crystal (as Fernando) (May 5, 1984)
- Special guest Edwin Newman (May 12, 1984)
Season 10 (1984–1985):
- Billy Crystal (as Fernando) (October 6, 1984)
- Show host Bob Uecker (October 13, 1984)
- Show host Jesse Jackson (October 20, 1984)
- Special guest Edwin Newman (November 3, 1984)
- Show host George Carlin (November 10, 1984)
- Show host Ed Asner (November 17, 1984)
- Christopher Guest (December 1, 1984 to April 13, 1985)
Weekend Update (1985–present)
Seasons 11–16 (1985–1991):
Seasons 17–19 (1991–1994):
Seasons 20–22 (1994–1997):
Season 23 (1997–1998):
- Norm Macdonald (Last: December 13, 1997)
- Colin Quinn (First: January 10, 1998)
Seasons 24–25 (1998–2000):
- Colin Quinn
Seasons 26–29 (2000–2004):
Season 30 (2004–2005):
- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
Season 31 (2005–2006)
- Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz (Last: October 8, 2005)
- Note that Sanz filled in on a temporary basis while Fey was pregnant; the piece was still announced as "Weekend Update with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler" (Sanz wore a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, only during the Weekend Update sketches)
- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (First: October 22, 2005)
Seasons 32–33 (2006–2008)
- Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers
Season 34 (2008–2009)
- Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers (Last: December 13, 2008)
- Seth Meyers (First: October 25, 2008)
Seasons 35–38 (2009–2013)
- Seth Meyers
Season 39 (2013-2014)
- Seth Meyers (Last: December 2013)
- TBA (First: January 2014)
|Cast Member||Tenure||Total Seasons||Total Episodes||Other Notes|
|Seth Meyers||September 30, 2006 – 2013||7 seasons||132 episodes|
|Tina Fey||October 7, 2000 – May 21, 2005 and October 22, 2005 – May 20, 2006||6 seasons||117 episodes|
|Dennis Miller||November 9, 1985 – May 18, 1991||6 seasons||111 episodes|
|Jimmy Fallon||October 7, 2000 – May 15, 2004||4 seasons||80 episodes|
|Jane Curtin||October 23, 1976 – May 24, 1980||4 seasons||78 episodes|
|Amy Poehler||October 2, 2004 – December 13, 2008||4 seasons||71 episodes|
|Norm MacDonald||September 24, 1994 – December 13, 1997||4 seasons||69 episodes|
|Kevin Nealon||September 28, 1991 – May 14, 1994||3 seasons||60 episodes|
|Colin Quinn||January 10, 1998 – May 20, 2000||3 seasons||50 episodes|
|Bill Murray||2 seasons||42 episodes|
|Chevy Chase||2 seasons||30 episodes|
|Dan Aykroyd||1 season||22 episodes|
|Charles Rocket||1 season||11 episodes|
- Martin, Douglas (May 7, 2005). "Herb Sargent, TV Writer, Is Dead at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
- Hulu video of the King segment
- SNL Transcripts
- "Saturday Night Live Backstage". 2011-02-20. NBC.
- Shales, T: Live From New York, pages 433–444. Back Bay Books, 2003.
- Baldwin, Kristen (May 10, 2002), "Update with Destiny". Entertainment Weekly. (653):26
- "Seth Meyers to co-anchor 'SNL's 'Update'". USA Today. Associated Press. September 21, 2006. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
- Sitt, Pamela (July 17, 2008). "Amy Poehler Confirms She Is Leaving Saturday Night Live". film.com. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
- Ausiello, Michael (July 30, 2009). "Exclusive: Amy Poehler returns to 'SNL' (REALLY?!)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
- "Seth Meyers Named Host Of NBC’s ‘Late Night’, Lorne Michaels To Executive Produce". usatoday.com. May 12, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
- SNL Transcripts Mardi Gras Special 2/20/1977 "Weekend Update with Jane Curtin and Buck Henry". jt.org. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
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