Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 12, 2006

Saturday Night Live Update

Filed under: television — louisproyect @ 2:26 pm

From 11/12/06 NY Times Magazine article on Will Ferrell titled “A Wild and Uncrazy Guy”:

In the 2000 presidential election, [Will] Ferrell voted for Al Gore. This would not have been especially noteworthy if at the time he hadn’t been impersonating George W. Bush every week on “Saturday Night Live.” His depiction of Bush as an inarticulate, slightly addled frat boy who spoke about “strategery” and about his wish to emerge “victoriant” played no small part in defining the public persona of the real Bush. In one particularly memorable sketch, actors playing Gore and Jeb Bush debated the country’s future while Ferrell, as Bush, the soon-to-be president, stood in the corner of the room playing with a ball of string like a contented cat.

Not long after that sketch, “S.N.L.” ran a prime-time election special, and Bush and Gore themselves visited the studio. “It was that strange sensation when art and life collide,” Lorne Michaels, the producer of “Saturday Night Live,” told me on the phone from his office at NBC. “There were the two candidates making fun of themselves to the actors who were playing them. Will, especially, captured something essential about Bush, and because Will is so likable, I believe, he tilted the election toward Bush. Often, it’s the messenger that makes the material.”

Although Ferrell portrayed Bush as bumbling and not too bright, the impersonation was strangely affectionate, and Bush reportedly loved it. He asked Ferrell to make an appearance with him at the White House Press Corps dinner in 2000, which Ferrell declined. Bush later made a similar request for a charity event held by Barbara Bush. When Ferrell said no a second time, Bush phoned Jeff Zucker, then the head of NBC, and asked him to persuade Ferrell to perform. “He said, ‘You gotta get your guy to do my mom’s charity,’ ” Ferrell recalled, using his Bush accent, over dinner at Kelly and Ping’s, a restaurant in downtown Manhattan. “The idea was that Dana Carvey would imitate the dad and I would be the son. And then the two real people would come up behind us, and we’d go, ‘Oops, sorry!’ That was the whole thing. So George the son called Zucker and I was … busy. In both cases, I especially did not want to do the inevitable photo op afterwards where we are all holding hands. That would have been a gesture of support.” Ferrell paused. “I’ve actually had people say to me, ‘Thanks a lot for Bush,’ as if I helped him win the election. Luckily, no one has said that in a while. But I can’t help the fact that people in America seem to not mind stupidity.”

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/magazine/12ferrell.html

1 Comment »

  1. Believe me, I find Ferrell even more appalling than Sacha Baron Cohen. Viz., the NYT article’s sum-up: “Over the past decade, Ferrell … has pioneered a comedic sensibility that is in sync with a prevailing spirit of cheerful mediocrity in America.” Ah yes, bliss was it then to be alive in the Age of Cheerful Mediocrity!

    Comment by Carl Remick — November 15, 2006 @ 5:15 am

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