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Barack Obama refused to help save a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch about racial profiling

Barack Obama refused to help save a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch about racial profiling


Obama said, "It's funny, but no, I don't think so."

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The Hollywood Reporter has an excerpt from the updated edition of Live From New York: An Uncensored History Of Saturday Night Live. Much of the piece focuses on politics — of Hillary Clinton's "entitlement" or the reaction to impressions like Sarah Palin and George W. Bush. But the most interesting part has to be Robert Smigel describing a sketch he wrote in 2007 that NBC wouldn't let on the air — one that Executive Producer Lorne Michaels fought so hard for that he took it to then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama in the hopes he'd like it:

Robert Smigel, writer: It wasn't until my last season that the network refused to air a "TV Funhouse." It was a live-action one that was meant to be about racism and profiling, an airline-safety video with multilingual narration, and whenever you heard a different language, they would cut to people of that nationality. First, typical white Americans, then a Latino family, then a Japanese family, all being instructed about seat belts, overhead compartments, et cetera. Then it cuts to an Arab man, and the narrator says, in Arabic, "During the flight, please do not blow up the airplane. The United States is actually a humanitarian nation that is rooted in the concept of freedom," and so on. ... When the standards people freaked, Lorne fought them. Standards pushed back hard. They even got someone at NBC human resources to condemn it. ... Lorne said, "I have a plan." Obama was doing a cameo in the cold open. Lorne told me he would show my sketch to Obama. "If Obama thinks it's OK, they won't be able to argue it." I thought it was a brilliant idea, except why would Obama ever give this thing his blessing? What if word got out? "Hey, everybody, that guy over there said it was cool. The one running for president of the country." But I loved Lorne for caring this much and being willing to go that far to get this thing on TV.

According to Lorne Michaels, "Obama said, 'It's funny, but no, I don't think so.'"