HOWARD SHORE: By the time Lily Tomlin hosted, Lorne was sending the host over to the music department, which essentially was me in an office with a desk. NBC had a wonderful record library - phenomenal. When NBC started, I believe they actually filed every recording ever released. I couldn't believe I had access to this library. I found this old blues recording of "St. James Infirmary" there and thought of doing an arrangement for the band. And I played that song for Lily and she liked it. And O'Donoghue said, "Have the band dress as nurses to do it." So we did. And I sang it with Lily. We did another show at Christmas where we all dressed as angels. It's just something that we got into - we've got these ten guys and one girl and what could we do with them that would be funny?
CRAIG KELLEM: Lorne had us working hard to induce Richard Pryor to host the show. Richard had a lot of questions and was playing very hard to get. We went to a jai alai arena in Miami where he was performing; that was the beginning of the Richard Pryor saga in terms of trying to get him to do the show. He wanted his ex-wife on the show, he wanted a couple of writers, performers on the show, and he wanted a tremendous number of tickets - which was an issue, really, because it wound up being the majority of the seats in the studio. So it was tough going. With Richard, as wonderful and as adorable as he was, it was also very tense being around him. Lorne loved Richard. He thought he was quote-unquote the funniest man on the planet. But it took so much work and effort to go through this process of booking him that Lorne, in a moment of extreme stress, sort of candidly looked around and said, "He better be funny."
Once he was booked, Herb Sargent and I were assigned to go to his Park Avenue hotel and greet him and hold his hand. He was there in a suite with his guys, and the first thing he wanted to know was, where was the script. What we couldn't tell him was, there was no script. Everyone was just recovering from the last show, and there was the usual chaos. So we were in this uncomfortable situation. Now Herb is a very gentle and sensitive guy, and in the course of this meeting, the pressure became so intense that Herb suddenly said he was going back to the office to get the "script." He left the suite - and never came back. And guess who was stuck there with seven or eight very angry guys? Richard knew there was a certain amount of bullshit going down. He was saying, "Where is that guy? What happened to him?"
That was the beginning of the host game, which is, "There is no script. Try to make them feel comfortable and quote-unquote trust me."
BERNIE BRILLSTEIN: When Richard Pryor hosted, NBC wanted a five-second delay because they thought Pryor might say something filthy. We ended up with a three-second delay, I think. But it was a new negotiation every week.
DAVE WILSON: You know what? I don't think we ever really went on a "delay." They tried to go on a delay the first time we had Richard Pryor on. And the Standards people couldn't make up their minds fast enough so that something got erased or bleeped. It was like a ten-second delay, and by the time they decided whether what he said was okay or not, it had gone past.