The new and extended version of Tom Shales and James Miller’s SNL oral history book Live from New York isn’t out until September 9th, but in the meantime THR has released a few exclusive excerpts from the book all about the show’s more recent political satire, from how Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin was born to why Robert Smigel’s last TV Funhouse segment was rejected to Fred Armisen and Jay Pharoah’s Obama impersonations. Here’s Horatio Sanz on the opposing political sensibilities of former head writers Jim Downey and Seth Meyers:
I don’t think the show itself has ever let its freak flag fly in the last 20 years. Lorne’s very concerned with being neutral so he wants to make fun of everyone. … He doesn’t want the show to be this liberal bash rag. He may be a little more conservative than he lets on. … And you also have Jim Downey, who’s basically the Karl Rove of SNL. He’s always writing the right wing sketches, and honestly I think a lot of times they’re out of tune with the audience. … I think Lorne sometimes leans too much on Downey and not enough on guys like Seth. Basically in the last couple of years, it’s been Seth going up against Downey to set the show’s tone on politics, and I think we could definitely have been harder on the right. They deserved it, and we dropped the ball as far as getting them.