Live From New York: The ‘Saturday Night Live’ Movies That Almost Happened
Now that Bill Hader has left ‘Saturday Night Live,’ you’re probably waiting for him to star in a Stefon movie and bring back the golden age of ‘SNL’ movies that began with ‘Wayne’s World’ and ended sometime between ‘Superstar’ and ‘The Ladies Man.’ Sorry to break it to you, but you’re more likely to encounter a Furkel (that’s a fat Urkel) than you are to see a Stefon movie anytime soon.
Stefon isn’t the only character to come out of Studio 8H who almost made it to the big screen. Read below to find out what happened to proposed movies for Stefon, Hans and Franz, Dieter and other once beloved recurring ‘SNL’ sketches.
‘Bill Swerski’s Superfans’
‘SNL’ fans old enough to remember the Super Fans — a group of football fans who celebrated polish sausage, Mike Ditka and “Da Bears” — will probably be interested to know that Robert Smigel of TV Funhouse and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog fame played one of the fans in the original sketches. In fact, Smigel penned a screenplay for a ‘Superfans’ movie with fellow ‘SNL’ writer Bob Odenkirk that never came to be.
The story would’ve taken the Superfans out of the bar to protest a fancy new version of their beloved Soldier Field stadium. (Smigel and Odenkirk wrote the part of the greedy billionaire who converts the stadium into all luxury boxes for Martin Short.)
Unfortunately, critical backlash towards the 1994-1995 ‘SNL’ season caused Lorne Michaels to put a hold on movies and focus on the show. Meanwhile, Chris Farley had just had scored a hit with ‘Tommy Boy’ and an ensemble comedy wasn’t seen as a good move for the rising star. In 2010, the script was resurrected at a live reading at the Just for Laughs Festival. The cast included Joe Mantegna (who played Bill Swerski in the first ‘Superfans’ sketch), George Wendt (Bill’s brother Bob who always filled in for Bill after one of his many heart attacks), Robert Smigel, Bob Odenkirk, Horatio Sanz in the Farley role and, of course, Mike Ditka as himself.
‘Hans and Franz: The Girly-Man Dilemma’
Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey reportedly got the idea for Hans and Franz, the weightlifter characters who wanted to “pump you up,” while watching an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger. So it’s fitting that The Governator was at one point attached to produce and star in a Hans and Franz movie.
Carvey and Nealon penned a screenplay with then ‘SNL’ writers Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel during the early ’90s. As Nealon revealed, ‘Hans and Franz: The Girly-Man Dilemma’ was to be a musical comedy about the muscle-bound duo coming to Hollywood to be movie stars like their idol Ah-nuld. Unfortunately, Arnold backed out of what could’ve been the craziest ‘SNL’ movie ever made. But yet he said yes to ‘Junior’ and ‘Jingle All the Way.’
Long before Stefon, ‘SNL’s’ resident weirdo was Dieter, the bizarre host of the arty West German television series ‘Sprockets.’ The recurring sketch produced such memorable catchphrases as “I’m as happy as a little girl” and “Touch my monkey!” (We didn’t have the internet and a million cable channels back then, kids. Cut us some slack.)
During the late ’90s, Myers wrote a script for a ‘Sprockets’ movie with ‘SNL’ scribes Michael McCullers and Jack Handey of “Deep Thoughts” fame. Reports say the script, which followed Dieter’s quest to retrieve his lost monkey Klaus, was a hilarious spoof of foreign films with plenty of fish-out-of-water gags. The cast would’ve included David Hasselhoff (as Norm MacDonald used to say on Weekend Update, Germans love David Hasselhoff) and then up-and-coming comedy stars Jack Black and Will Ferrell, making its failure even more bittersweet.
However, Myers had problems with the script, and dropped out of the project. This led to a huge legal battle, where Imagine Entertainment and Universal Studios sued Myers for a combined amount of $33.8 million. There were also allegations from Myers’ former Second City colleague Dana Andersen, who claimed to have cocreated the character and developed many of his popular catchphrases. (Here’s a clip of Andersen and Myers performing as “Kurt and Dieter” on the series ‘It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll’ before the character appeared on ‘SNL.’)
Myers countersued Universal and Imagine for defamation, and released a statement saying that, “I cannot in good conscience accept $20 million and cheat moviegoers…with an unacceptable script.” The situation got so heated that Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg had to step in to mediate. As part of the settlement, Myers reportedly had to star in Universal’s ‘Cat in the Hat.’ So not only did we miss out on what could’ve potentially been the funniest movie of Myers career, we were instead forced to watch him mugging it up in a creepy cat costume.
‘The Ambiguously Gay Duo’
Robert Smigel’s double entendre heavy riff on superheroes was almost turned into a live-action movie. Smigel and Stephen Colbert (who voices Ace to Steve Carell’s Gary) wrote a script for a ‘Ambiguously Gay Duo’ movie around 2005, but nothing came of it. (‘The Colbert Report’ might’ve had something to do with that.)
Of course, ‘SNL’ viewers got a taste of what an Ace and Gary movie would’ve looked like in a 2011 sketch starring the perfectly cast Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon as the superhero duo and Carell and Colbert as supervillains.
‘The Saturday Night Live Movie’
One of the strangest lost ‘SNL’ movies was one that would’ve been like a long episode that consisted entirely of movie parodies. Written in 1990 by Lorne Michaels and members of the show’s writing staff, ‘The Saturday Night Live Movie’ was to be an anthology sketch comedy film based around the theme of going to the movies.
The script, which was discovered by Drew McWeeny over at HitFix, features sketches penned by such comedy luminaries as Conan O’Brien, Greg Daniels, Al Franken and famed ‘Simpsons’ writer George Meyer. Some of the material, such as an ‘E.T.’ parody and an unfortunate Al Franken/Tom Davis sketch called ‘Crack Rap,’ sounds awfully dated. But we would’ve loved to see George Meyer’s crime movie spoof ‘Tip Stealer’ and ‘Young Bush at Yale,’ a sketch that would’ve shown the early years of Dana Carvey’s George Bush Sr.
Still, it’s probably best for all involved (particularly Senator Franken) that ‘Crack Rap’ never saw the light of day.
The ‘Wayne’s World’ films made Mike Myers one of the hottest stars of the ’90s, so it’s no wonder that he also developed a movie for Linda Richman, the host of the ‘Coffee Talk’ sketches who was based on his then mother-in-law. While it was yet another of ‘SNL’s’ patented fake talk shows, the sketches often featured fun cameos from everyone from Madonna to Linda’s idol Barbra “she’s like buttah” Streisand.
You can thank the failure of forgotten “comedies” ‘Stuart Saves His Family’ and ‘It’s Pat!’ for putting a halt on ‘SNL’ movies and killing the ‘Coffee Talk’ project. Though, as Linda would say, the loss of this one is no big whoop.
Robert Smigel also wrote a feature-length script for his ‘TV Funhouse’ segment where former Commanders-in-Chief like Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford battled supervillains and offered help to current sitting presidents.
An animated ‘SNL’ movie would’ve been an interesting way to take the franchise in a new direction, but sadly the project never happened. Instead, Smigel turned the film’s story into a hilarious graphic novel, which he wrote with ‘Anchorman‘ director Adam McKay. The parodies of old comic book ads alone are worth giving this one a read if you can hunt down a copy.
Now that Bill Hader has left ‘Saturday Night Live,’ one would think his first course of action would be a Stefon movie. Everyone loves Stefon, and a movie would be an opportunity to lampoon urban nightlife culture and explore the character’s insane cast of characters. Get comedian and former ‘SNL’ scribe John Mulaney, who cocreated the character, to write a script with Hader and you’ve got the makings of a movie that will at the very least be funnier than ‘A Night at the Roxbury.’
Well, don’t hold your breath. Hader recently revealed that he did bat around ideas for a Stefon movie with Mulaney, but then decided the character wouldn’t work on the big screen. As he told GQ, “You think you want a Stefon movie but then you’ll see the poster for it and think: ‘Wait, I don’t want this.'” We don’t know about that, Bill. If Gizblow the coked-up Gremlin was on the poster, that’s basically a license to print money.