Live from 5th Avenue, It's Saturday Night Live!

Ten with Tom

10 questions in 10 minutes

A replica of the main stage.
"40 Years of Saturday Nights," a special exhibit featuring the TV show Saturday Night Live is in New York City now. The exhibit at 417 5th Avenue tells the story of the famous late night show. There area lot of original sets from the show along with costumes, props and studio settings. One main feature is video throughout, where the actors talk about their experiences and how the work was done, as you move about the exhibit. When you first enter, you are shown a video explaining the show's past 40 years and as you move about the exhibit you'll see other videos, at the end, you are seated in front of the main stage from Studio 8H and Tina Fey comes out (on video) and shares funny and musical moments from the past decades.

While the exhibition is nowhere near the real 8H at 30 Rock, it feels as if you are in that hallowed environment. While you watch the Jeopardy show play or the many musical guests perform, you can almost feel their ghosts on that very stage, even though it's a replica.

Visitors will "live" Saturday Night Live's week from script readings to actual show time (a week in the life). Visitors are immersed into the show. The original home base set, creator Lorne Michael's desk, cone head props, Killer bees costumes, Scenic Jeopardy, the Church Lady set and costume, and so much more that you'll recognized right away, are all part of the exhibit. And it's all hands-on, which makes for a special experience. I went on a weekday and it was not crowded at all, there was time to enjoy the exhibit on your own time.

The Wayne's World set. You can actually sit on the couch and touch the props.
The Killer Bees costumes from the early years, and also The Shark.

The Church Lady costume and The Coneheads head.
I spoke with Mark Lach, Creative Director of the exhibit which is open daily.
Mark Lach, creative director


What is your favorite part/section of the exhibit?


Well, the last experience
is very, very exciting. That's where you actually become part of the
show on Saturday night!  But experiencing the six days leading up to
Saturday Night is extraordinary. And seeing all the sets and props and
wardrobe from the last 40 years is something you can't find anywhere
else. And of course, remembering all the great cast members and all
great sketches . . .Well, I guess it's hard to pick a favorite!


Other than that, what would you recommend people look for when visiting?


I think visitors will find
their own gems, their own favorite parts of the exhibition. Remember,
never before have all these pieces of history been brought together in
one place.


Have any of the SNL cast (past or present) stopped by randomly alone or with their families?


We had an incredible
opening event where many of the cast (both past and present) attended
the exhibition. It was a great night and really fun to see  how much
they enjoyed the exhibition. I suspect that there will continue to be
random sightings of SNL cast members in the exhibition.


Who is your all time favorite SNL cast member.


I think that goes in the category of picking your favorite child. But I will say that after doing our best to
recognize all 40 years of the show, I have a renewed appreciation for
the talents of many cast members that quite frankly I had forgotten
about.


Have you been to any tapings of the actual show on a Saturday night?


Yes! I've had the unique
opportunity to attend many, many shows. And not only the show itself,
but also hanging out with the cast and crew during the week leading up
to the live broadcast on Saturday Night. I really embedded myself in the
halls of 30 Rock for the last year.  It was and honor and of course --
very exciting.  But it was also extremely important to have that kind of
access to put together a great exhibition.


What seems to be the most favorite part of the exhibit for visitors, which do they take the most photos of?


Of course the visitors are
excited to have a 'backstage pass' to ALL the show -- and there are
plenty of places for selfies and photos.  And you just can't beat
sitting on the Wayne's World couch!   "Excellent!"


What is the Grand Finale Home Base? That set is not being used anymore?


‎Well, I really wanted to
give the visitor a genuine feeling of what it is like to be part of a
week at SNL. And of course, what's a week at SNL without experiencing
Saturday Night?  We have recreated the 'Home Base' stage from 30 Rock --
exactly.  But what's really exciting, you will actually feel like you
are an audience member at the show.


How many fans have been through, what do you think the final count may be?


The response has been
fantastic.  Not sure of the exact count, but I think that New Yorkers
and tourist alike will be touring the exhibition for many months to
come.  After all, there are only 21 actual shows each year -- The
exhibition doors are open year round.


Have you considered
doing this for other shows, I know there was Central Perk at one time
and the Seinfeld living room will be set up this week, but have you
considered doing this type of exhibit on a long term basis with any
other tv shows?


You know, I suppose that is
possible. But after learning what a truly unique production SNL is, I
think it might be tough for me to create an exhibition about any other
show.


Will the SNL exhibit travel the country or is just going to remain a New York thing?


It would be great for this
exhibition and this story to tour the country, and that will probably
happen. But right now, the exhibition's home is where it should be -- in
New York.

Famous costumes.
Play in the control room.
Thank you Mark. I loved the exhibit myself, it brought back so many memories and it's amazing to see how small the sets and costumes are. On tv they look larger than life, but seeing them in reality is something else. It's very special.