Programming

Seth Meyers Still Eyes Talk Show Future

Post-'Live! With Kelly,' Seth Meyers plots 'SNL' election-year plans, and his own 9/17/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Seth Meyers is about as busy as one can be these days. Fresh
after guest-hosting LIVE! With Kelly this summer (though he says he
never wanted the cohosting job that ultimately went to Michael Strahan), the Saturday
Night Live
head writer's focus is now on politics, mining headlines for his
"Weekend Update" segments and the two SNL Weekend Update Thursday
election specials on Sept. 20 and 27. Prior to SNL's season premiere,
Meyers spoke to B&C programming editor Andrea Morabito about being
Kelly Ripa's co-host, what losing Kristen Wiig means to SNL and whether 2012 can live up to the Tina Fey/Sarah Palin comedy
gold of 2008.

Is this election cycle better or worse than 2008 for comedy?

Well, the best thing from a comedy perspective I think is when there's no
incumbent, I've found, just because then you have two new candidates that
nobody has any sort of sense of yet. I think 2008 was really fun that way and
2000 was really fun that way. With that said, I really like our Obama and our
Biden and our Romney [impersonators on SNL].
So it should be fun. But you really don't know until the debates get started how
much the candidates turn up the volume in the last two months here before the
election.

In 2008, it was so great with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, which proved a
huge ratings draw. Do you feel pressure to live up to that performance this
year?

I think even during that election we were aware that there was, to some degree,
lightning in a bottle. Obviously we didn't think somebody was going to pick a
running mate this year that looks exactly like our most famous cast member. So
while we were enjoying it a great deal four years ago, we are also comedians
which makes us by nature cynical, and even then being like ‘Ugh, we're going to
really regret how good this is going four years from now.' But with that said,
it's very exciting to have set a high bar in 2008 that we're going to do our
damnedest to match. 

You lost a big star in Kristen Wiig last season. How does that affect
the chemistry of the cast for this season?

On the good side, Kristen kind of let us know that last year was going to be
her last year, so I think we all really enjoyed and appreciated it to the
fullest. It helped us brace for the fact that we were going to have to do it
without her. The show was always about turnover and if anything, the absence of
Kristen opened up a lot of space for people to sort of enter their second acts
as SNL cast members, which is always
really exciting.

What is going to be the biggest challenge for you this season as head
writer?

I think the biggest challenge is always [that] you don't try to make
stuff up when you're writing politics, so you just hope it's not going to be
completely dry, as far as what you have to play with. Because I think that's
the hardest part, is when you're writing about politics to try to keep it both
at the height of its intelligence but also remember you're a comedy show. As
much as people say they get their news from comedy shows, they probably
wouldn't if they weren't also funny. So you really have to remember that the
getting information is always going to be secondary to why people are watching
the show.

What was your Live With Kelly
audition experience like?

Well, I don't believe I was ever auditioning. I had agreed to do a full
week because I just really enjoy doing it. It wasn't a job that I ever asked
for or they ever offered. I think I am much better off at night because every
time I finish performing, I like to have a glass of scotch, and if I did a
morning job I would just start drinking so early in the day. But she's the best
and I hope I can still fill in a couple of times a year because I've always really
liked it when I've done it.

What's your career plan going forward though? What do you see as your
next step?

I have found that there's very little in show business that you can
plan. Hopefully some good options will present themselves if things keep going
the way they're going. The nice thing about SNL
is it requires 100% of your attention and you don't have too much time to worry
about what's next.

You're working on a comedy script with your brother for NBC though.

I am, yeah, and a friend of ours Pete Gross, he used to write for The Colbert Report. So that's exciting,
a sort of brothers-based comedy based on our upbringing, which is really fun.

Are you still interested in being a talk show host someday?

I will say in many years of doing SNL,
with doing Weekend Update, I've realized I'm better at being Seth Meyers than I
am at being other people. So I wouldn't be surprised if that's sort of the path
that it takes me to.

NBCUniversal is very good at what they call "Symphony," cross-promoting
their shows and talent on their various properties. Will you be doing anything
on other NBCU networks?

I did the NBC Sports Network, Willie Geist and I had a really hot 15
minutes of comedy banter about the Olympics this summer. I'm going to try to
pop up the way I popped up that day, with very little warning to the American
viewing audience.

Would a multiplatform deal like Ryan Seacrest has with NBCU interest
you?

I like having a lot of different things to do. I like doing stand-up, I
like the sort of gabbing I've done with awards shows, I enjoy stuff like that,
and I still like writing screenplays. But I feel like it's very hard for me to
use the term ‘multiplatform' because I don't fully understand what it means.

Have you started working with host Joseph Gordon-Levitt yet for the
Sept. 22 episode?

We haven't started working with him yet but we had him a few years ago
and we really, really liked him. He's good. He's got an incredible commitment
but he's also got a really nice offbeat sensibility that's really fun for a
writing staff because he's really unique. When he showed up, it wasn't until
Thursday that I think we understood what he did really well. So it's exciting
to have him this time and know that on a Monday. So I think that's going to be
a really fun show.

Do you have any overall goals or predictions for this season?

I think that we have a really exciting group of younger cast members on
the show and I think this is going to be their year. And if we do our jobs as a
writing staff, by the end of the year-you'll never stop missing somebody like
Kristen Wiig or Andy Samberg-but hopefully people will feel like they're in
safe hands.

E-mail comments to
amorabito@nbmedia.com
and follow her on Twitter:
@andreamorabito

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