Live From New York Book Excerpt

DAVE WILSON, Director: I got involved because I was editing a show called A Salute to Sir Lew Grade. British television decided to salute him on his eightieth birthday or whatever it was, and they did an all-star show at the New York Hilton. Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion were actually the producers, but they couldn't stay so they left it all in my hands to get edited. And while I was editing, the production assistant on the show said she was going for an interview, there was a new show starting at NBC, some late-night thing that a Canadian kid was going to be producing. And I said, "Oh, what's it called?" And she said, "I don't know. I think it's called Saturday Night." I said, "Isn't that Howard Cosell and Roone Arledge at ABC?" And she said, "Oh no, that's the prime-time Saturday Night. This is the late-night Saturday Night." I called my manager and said I was interested and could he get me an interview. The funny thing about it was, I had to fight with my manager. He kept saying, "Oh, you don't want to get involved with a late-night thing, you want to be involved with a prime-time show." I said, "No, I don't want to be involved with a prime-time show, this late-night show looks like it's got some very interesting people involved."

I got an interview in a weird way too, because Lorne wasn't seeing anybody. I guess he had just had it with people being forced down his throat. But luckily my manager was a very good friend of Bernie Brillstein, and I had worked with Bernie on a Muppet show, "Sex and Violence with the Muppets." And Bernie said, "I know Dave Wilson, he gets along great with Jim Henson. And if he can get along great with Jim Henson, he can get along great with anybody." So he put in the word to Lorne that maybe I was somebody he'd be interested in seeing.

HOWARD SHORE: I actually had to find the band. I'm an avid collector of music and of jazz and R&B, and I just called people I'd listened to on records. I got in touch with as many people as I could that I was interested in. I knew they were in New York. I started to put the band together, started to write original music for the show, themes and original music for the band itself. The Carson show was big-band music. Although I sort of grew up in that a bit in the fifties - Glenn Miller and Ellington and Basie I listened to - the big-band thing was not really my generation. My generation was more R&B and rock and roll.

PAUL SHAFFER, Musician and Performer: Howard Shore called me to be in his new band for Saturday Night Live. Howard had worked for me in a theatrical show in Toronto on saxophone. I was conducting Godspell, the Toronto company. We had a wonderfully talented cast. Gilda was in the cast. Also Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy, Marty Short, and Dave Thomas, among others. These were the funniest people I'd ever come in contact with. I met Lorne up in his seventeenth-floor office. For some reason I have this recollection of him looking at two pots of coffee brewing and saying, "Which one of these coffees is fresher?" And I'll always remember that. I thought, "This is a guy who speaks in comedic pentameter." I remember that and the fact that his skin was all broken out, because he was nervous. He was putting this show together from scratch, and he hadn't hired anybody yet.

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