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Live from New York

The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests
Length: 28 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When first published to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, Live from New York was immediately proclaimed the best book ever produced on the landmark and legendary late-night show. In their own words, unfiltered and uncensored, a dazzling galaxy of trail-blazing talents recalled three turbulent decades of on-camera antics and off-camera escapades. Now a fourth decade has passed - and best-selling authors James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales have returned to Studio 8H. They raucously and revealingly take the SNL story up to the present, adding a constellation of iconic new stars, surprises, and controversies.

©2002 Thomas W. Shales and Jimmy the Writer, Inc.; material new to the 2014 edition copyright 2014 by Jimmy the Writer, Inc.; preface to the 2015 edition copyright 2015 by Jimmy the Writer, Inc. (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating book

This is my third time reading this book. The first two times were the original version, and with an actual hard copy. I loved it then and I love it now.

My takeaways for this version:
1. The updated material DELIGHTED me. They could make a version of this book every ten years and I’d buy it again. The inner workings of SNL never stop intriguing me.

2. My only issue with the reading of the book, and it is one that is hard to solve, is that each genders passage is read by the same voice. So if I miss the name intro, or forget whose name it was because a lot of these names hold little meaning until long into the book, the stories aren’t as valuable. And if I need to know who is saying what, I have to skip back how many seconds to hear their name introduces? It was so frustrating, and could only be fixed by having a different voice for each main character (implausible), or having the persons name be repeated at the end of the story/appear in screen.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Dubi
  • 2018-10-21

The First Forty Years ... and Counting

Exhaustive but hardly exhausting history of Saturday Night Live over its first forty years. Originally published at the thirty year mark at 600 pages, this edition was updated to add coverage of the ensuing ten years, increasing to 800 pages in print and topping 28 hours in audio run time. And as we're already nearly halfway to the half century mark, with no signs of slowing down, expect future updates.

I don't know why you'd want to read this all-encompassing history of SNL if you're not a fan, but if you are a fan, or if you were a fan during your generation's incarnation of the ever-morphing series, this is just incredible stuff. I was a college kid in 1975 when the first season became a sensation among us kids, then lost touch with it during its downswing in the 1980s, became reacquainted with its stars but not a viewer during the 1990s, and then started watching regularly again around 2005 when my own kids became part of that generation's devotees.

The format is excellent. Almost all of this is made up of excerpts of interviews with most of the players -- cast members of course, guest hosts, musical guests, writers, directors, and other crew members, network execs, managers and agents, even friends and family of key cast. Broken down into short bursts on the same topic, we hear how the show was created; how the original cast and all subsequent casts were assembled, employed, quit or fired, replaced, and sadly how some died young; how many memorable skits and characters came to be; what happened off stage behind the scenes, especially during the raucous era of the original cast.

And every other aspect of the show you can think of -- most entertainingly, its many controversies, many covered in great detail from multiple sides of the story. There are of course some of the great onscreen controversies, like Sinead O'Connor's pope protest, and the great backstage controversies, like the appearance of Andrew Dice Clay as host, the fight between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, and the firing of Norm MacDonald for his Weekend Update jokes about O.J. Simpson (NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer was a big advocate for his good friend O.J. at the height of his notoriety).

What I found most interesting, because it's almost by definition unknown to the public at large, is how some big name people failed to become part of the cast or failed as part of the cast and staff. Their stories are here in detail. How then-unknown Billy Crystal did not make the original cast even though he was scheduled to be on the debut episode, how Damon Wayans got himself fired from the cast by purposely sabotaging a skit, how Larry David and Julia Louis-Dreyfus were hardly utilized as writer and cast member, respectively, only to take that rejected material into Seinfeld, how Lisa Kudrow failed to make the cast but went on to Friends, and what Janeane Garofalo thought of her brief tenure.

And that's really just scratching the tip of the iceberg. What makes it so good in audio is that it's an *oral* history, as told by its participants in spoken interviews, the only notable absence of a living participant being Eddie Murphy, who continues to nurse some grudge toward the show that launched his career (all of which is explored in the book, albeit without his side to the story). So even though there are narrators rather than the actual people talking, it still comes off as wonderfully conversational, as if a roundtable of participants are reminiscing about their shared past. For fans of the show, truly great stuff.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Michelle
  • 2018-05-05

Entertaining but repetitive

The first few chapters were pretty entertaining but after a while some of the stories dragged on. Then towards the end it seems as if stories were repeated. I often thought that I had gone back to a previous chapter knowing I had already hear a tale before only to see that in fact they had repeated a story. So if you're a true SNL you'd probably enjoy it but it seemed to drag on in my opinion.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Alexander
  • 2018-08-06

What a fun listen

I got this book in 2002 or 2003 and listening to it again in audio form was an absolute blast. What a great listen and adventure. The performers are great and do a great job differentiating without doing poor imitations.
Thank you

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • NikNieb
  • 2019-01-22

The narrators

They seriously handled the narration so damn well. The “voices” weren’t full on impressions when they were talking as people, but the slight tweaks to accents and cadence showed true professionalism. Christina Delaine and Paul Woodson are fantastic and I will look to listen to books with their narration in the future.

The book’s content was also good.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris Topher
  • 2018-03-29

lorens a father figure...

Yeah we get it, Lorens a father figure, the show is chaotic, its fair, its unfair. same thing over and over for hours. missed oppourtunity to talk more about sketches behind the scenes, mishaps, suprises etc. I love SNL but this was really mostly about the love hate relationship with Michaels.kinda boring.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Ryan Baumbach
  • 2018-05-09

A nice trip through SNL’s Memory Lane

Loved the hearing about the first ten years or so (especially the first five years with the Not Ready For Prime Time Players). After about 1995 or so is when the book loses its steam for me. And a lot of that has to do with the fact I’m not much of an SNL viewer anymore. The new millennium years don’t hold much interest for me and beyond the talk about the election year SNLs, that part of the book is vanilla and a bit tedious. Great performances by the voice talent though not much range between Dana Carvey or Damon Wayans. That’s okay though. Save the impressions for the show.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Tom Wood
  • 2019-06-06

Great For SNL Fans

Everything you could possibly want to know about SNL. Inserts from cast past and present. Mostly a collection of quotes from and by cast about experience, other cast members and host.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Karen Collura
  • 2019-05-10

interesting & fantastic

It was interesting to hear some of the stories I knew from a variety perspectives.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-02-08

luv this book!!!!!!!!! so good!!!!!

interesting and enjoyable. reccomend to and tv snl or comedy. needs more john mulaney tho

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Keith Gilbert
  • 2018-10-20

great read!

This was the best book on the subject! ive read twice its very addictive. Full of information. I loved hearing about Will Ferrell's audition . just really cool stores that I've never heard. highly recommend for any fan of SNL.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful