Saturday, October 30, 2004

60 Minutes Behind the Scenes With Ashlee

Above: CBS's Saucy Leslie Stahl "hulks" over the damaged and broken body of Ashlee, snot dripping out of her big nose, utilizing her 60 Minutes "Investigative Journalist's Stink Eye (TM)."

Why is Leslie giving Ashlee "ice" in that picture? How much more defeated can a person be? How fickle fortuna can be. Leslie Stahl initially took the 60 Minutes camera crew to SNL in order to chronicle on how the "frenetic" counterculture comedy show is "conceived, written and produced each week." In other words, a 60 Minutes blow job piece, like the one a dewey eyed Mike Wallace did on Tina Turner a while back.

Neither did Our Leslie know that she would get caught up in the eye of one of the biggest storms in SNL history -- The AshleeGate.

According to the 60 Minutes website (you may want to go directly to the link for the entire uninterrupted story, I need to be snarky here):

"When Ashlee Simpson ran off the 'Saturday Night Live' stage last week after her lip-sync gone awry, 60 Minutes cameras were there to record her embarrassing exit, and the reaction from show creator Lorne Michaels and other shocked SNL staff members."

Those Lorne Michaels reaction shots are going to be so hott on Monday, you know that don't you.

"The exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the incident will be part of a Lesley Stahl report about the making of the venerable comedy program, to be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m ... In the now-notorious flap, Simpson had performed her hit single 'Pieces of Me' without incident earlier on the show. When she came back to sing a second time, her band started playing and the first lines of her singing 'Pieces of Me' could be heard once again.

"Simpson, meanwhile, was holding her microphone at her waist. She looked momentarily confused as the band plowed ahead with the song and the vocal was quickly silenced. A flustered Simpson danced a bit of a jig, then walked off the stage. The 60 Minutes cameras stayed on the 19-year-old singer (picture above) as she rushed to the backstage area, clutching her throat and looking tearful."

What could he say? The cameraman could smell the Emmy, neither did he know it was only "acid reflux." And now, quoth the "dadager," Mr. Simpson does "dadage control":

"Her father Joe Simpson, who manages the careers of both Ashlee and her older sister Jessica Simpson, said it was his decision to use the pre-recorded music, called backing tracks, for vocal support when it became apparent during dress rehearsals that acid reflux disease had swollen Ashlee's vocal cords. Simpson ran off the stage when her voice began to fail her then, too, and Stahl and her cameras captured the moment, which turned out to be a preview of what later unfolded on live television. The singer said the glitch occurred when her drummer hit the wrong switch and cued the wrong music track. She also said it was the first time she had ever used a backing track. But was it the first time for 'Saturday Night Live?'"

A good question ...

" ... Stahl returned to the set this week to ask that question of Executive Producer Lorne Michaels and follow up on what happened with Simpson. 60 Minutes was at the show last Saturday night because Stahl had been shooting footage and interviews all week for a report on how the show is put together.

"'If the plan had been, ya know like, they?d done the Thursday rehearsal and had lip-synced and said, 'Well, that?s what we do,' then we would have said, 'No, we can?t do that',' he says.

"(Michaels) explains it goes against the show's essence of being live. The only time he's been aware of lip-syncing taking place, he says, 'is during dance breaks where if it was all about dance, and that?s a relatively recent phenomenon.'"

But, that's not "live," then is it?

"Michaels also says it's the first time a performer has ever walked off the stage. The reason there have not been more mess-ups like Simpson's is because of his rule against ad-libs. Everything that airs on 'SNL' is written on cue cards and rehearsed.

"Yet the show never seems stiff or locked-in. Michaels attributes this to a 'raggedness that comes from just doing a show that quickly. I mean you?re from blank page to on the air in six days.'

"The process starts Monday afternoons in Michaels' office, when the writers and performers meet the guest host, who on the week we visited was British actor Jude Law. Law has more say about what will be in the show that you might have imagined. The staff tossed out ideas for sketches to see what he liked.

"Each week the cast of a dozen or so comedians spoof what's in, lampoon who's powerful and just act silly. After the pitch session, the writers and cast members sat at computers trying to come up with ideas. All day Tuesday and into Wednesday, they worked with no sleep."

God, that sounds like such a hott job. Hey, that sounds like exactly what The Corsair does for his blog -- only, you know, without the $11,000 a week salary, the blow, thevacuous wrap party at the latest downtown hotspots, the requisite Paper Magazine cover story, the Klonopin popped like tic tacs, the raw creative energy at Rockefeller Plaza, and the proximity to stars and models, the network retreat/vacations. Not that I'm bitter or anything ... Not that I would prefer to write for SNL than do this blog ... nevernever, uh, Okay, maybe I might sell out but only for the experience -- I promise I would not enjoy it.

"(Lorne) says, he'd taken hits some hits over the incident, 'but I mean you know, I don?t have any welts or bruises. I mean, life goes on and the great part about 'SNL' is there?s always next week."

Read the full text on the 60 Minutes web site here. The Corsair is guilty enough for having posted half of the story ...


Shaw Israel Izikson said...

"Yet the show never seems stiff or locked-in." oh yes it does! Stiffer than a John Holmes woody . . .

That and I really don't see the same anarchistic spirit anymore - of course, they lost most of that centuries ago when Belushi, Ackroyd and Mr. Bill left.

Think about this: they actually have a commercial now RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SHOW ITSELF AFTER THE MUSICAL PERFORMANCE "This song has been brought to you by Notwiser (than most folks who could be watchin' Mad TV)" Either Michaels has gone corporate or he needs the dough for Keenan Thompson's dinner buffet.

K - end of rant.

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