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With Saturday Night Live newly airing live coast to coast, many Hollywood eyes were likely feasting on Saturday’s show with expectations about how it would tackle the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal.
Instead of opening with its take on Weinstein, SNL kicked off with another President Donald Trump skewering from Alec Baldwin. From Puerto Rico and Rex Tillerson to Eminem, Baldwin’s Trump went through his list of this week’s targets before announcing, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”
Many viewers on Twitter were quick to call out the NBC series for skipping out on a Weinstein-centered cold open, as the scandal wasn’t touched until nearly midway through the show. First, with a Hollywood actress roundtable sketch and then, the lead story during the “Weekend Update” segment.
Colin Jost and Michael Che immediately took on Weinstein at their newsdesk, with Jost opining that the film mogul doesn’t need to go to a facility in Europe for sex rehab, as was reported, and that he instead needs to go to prison. “He doesn’t need sex rehab,” Jost said. “He needs a specialized facility where there are no women, no contact with the outside world, metal bars — and it’s a prison.”
Che explained how the story puts comedians in a tough spot, since it’s hard to make jokes about sexual assault. Though, he added, it’s easy to make jokes about his looks (“He looks like chewed bubblegum rolled in cat hair,” he quipped).
But Che did take issue with Weinstein’s response to reporters where he said, “We all make mistakes.” Che said flatly, “No, man. A mistake is me walking into the wrong bathroom and using it anyway because I was crowning. He assaulted dozens of women. That’s not a mistake. That’s a full season of Law & Order. Your name’s a verb now, dude. As in, ‘If this guy tries to Weinstein me, I’m going to cut off his little Harvey.’ Doesn’t he look like a well-dressed skin tag?”
Ahead of the weekly newsdesk segment, castmember Aidy Bryant returned to host a New York Film Festival actress roundtable where the moderator was joined by actresses Viola Davis (Leslie Jones), Marion Cotillard (Cecily Strong) and Kate McKinnon’s recurring aging actress, Debette Goldry, for a topical discussion of sexual harassment in Hollywood.
Asked if they had ever experienced sexual harassment in general, the answer was a collective ‘of course.’ “I did have one meeting with Harvey,” said McKinnon’s Goldry. “He invited me to his hotel room and when I arrived he was naked, hanging upside down from a monkey bar. Trying to trick me into thinking his genitals were his face. It almost worked — the resemblance was uncanny.”
The discussion included many circling questions that have surfaced post-scandal, including how men tend to cover up for other men, why actors keep referencing how they have daughters in their responses and the “whisper system” between actresses who warn one another about predators.
“There’s a secret code to warn each other about creeps,” said the Goldry character. “The code was: ‘He raped me.’ If any men were listening, they’d tune us right out.” She added, “Being a family man doesn’t make you some kind of hero. Even Hitler had a sister.”
This week’s SNL installment, which was hosted by Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) with musical guest P!nk, comes after criticism over how late-night TV initially handled covering the story. News of Weinstein’s alleged years of sexual misconduct first broke on Oct. 5 in a New York Times exposé, with the story picking up steam over last weekend and spurring countless subsequent claims, including a Tuesday report from The New Yorker that included three rape allegations against the now-embattled movie mogul.
Though TV’s late-night talk-show hosts were criticized for their collective delay in addressing the scandal, the Times piece was posted on the afternoon of Oct. 5 only hours before most shows taped that night’s episode. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers regularly air reruns on Friday night, and CBS’ Late Show With Stephen Colbert pre-tapes Fridays show on Thursday. John Oliver was first to tackle the story on HBO’s Last Week Tonight that Sunday.
SNL reportedly shelved Weinstein jokes last-minute ahead of Saturday’s episode and when asked why, creator Lorne Michaels said, “It’s a New York thing.” The Times explained the meaning behind Michaels’ comment via an anonymous source, who claimed the executive producer meant that at the time, Weinstein was still only a New York media story.
Weinstein has since been fired from the company he co-created, The Weinstein Co., expelled by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a rare move (Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Mel Gibson all remain in the academy’s ranks) and both the New York and London police have opened their own investigations. Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, has left him as more and more accusations are brought to light each day. More than 30 women, including actresses Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have gone public with accusations against the disgraced producer, who has denied any nonconsensual sexual conduct with any women.
NBC also found itself a target of President Trump this week, when he threatened to revoke the company’s broadcast license after a report claimed to explain why Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly called the president a “moron.” During the opening of SNL this week, the licensing threat was absent from the list of Trump’s targets.
Some of the viewers who called out the veteran sketch show on Twitter for opening on a “tired” bit about Trump’s week instead of taking on Weinstein from the get-go are below.
SNL is set to return Nov. 4 with host Larry David and musical guest Miley Cyrus.
Is #SNL serious? They are doing a tired bit on the National Anthem protest, Rex Tillerson IQ Test, Starbucks cups… But no Weinstein?!
— Ryumoau (@Ryumoau_Juno) October 15, 2017
Why is the SNL cold open not about Weinstein?
— Col. John Corbett (@CorComm) October 15, 2017
— Marvinq (@dhoomonyou) October 15, 2017
Not one joke on SNL about Harvey Weinstein? Unreal still doing the old Trump jokes! How obvious can they be about politics in their skits?
— Howard Hirschfield (@statoneurgent) October 15, 2017
where’s SNL? Trump Rally is not the story–Weinstein &/or Hillary is the story–where’s the SNL that wasn’t afraid of satire–whatever side?
— Shawna Chapman (@shawna_chapman) October 15, 2017
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