Punchlines ripped from the headlines

How "SNL" Bagged Big Bird

“SNL” creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels won a bid to get Big Bird to appear as a guest.

By Debra Pangestu
|  Monday, Oct 8, 2012  |  Updated 12:30 PM EDT
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"SNL" Highlights: The New Season

"Sesame Street's" Big Bird joins Seth Meyers at the anchor desk.

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Big Bird's visit to “Saturday Night Live” followed a personal appeal by the show's longtime executive producer to friends at the Children’s Television Workshop, according to The New York Times.

“SNL” creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels bagged Big Bird as a guest after GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney name dropped the 8-foot yellow muppet during the first presidential debate.

At the debate, Romney said he would cut taxpayer money from programs such as PBS, despite his love for Big Bird

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"I like PBS. I love Big Bird," Romney said. "But I am not going to keep spending money on things [we have] to borrow money from China to pay for."

Big Bird didn’t agree to sign on for the NBC show’s “Weekend Update” segment until Friday night. The appeal came after neither presidential candidate agreed to appear, according to the Times.

“There’s always all this swirl,” Michaels told the Times, describing the build-up to last weekend's post-debate show. “And then you’re fighting to get Big Bird on the phone.”

The scramble to get an appearance from Sesame Street’s beloved character boiled down to politics. Executives at the Children’s Television Workshop were hesitant to have Big Bird appear in a sketch that could be construed as political commentary, which compelled Michaels to appeal to his contacts at the company.

Michaels is usually protective about the creative process, but in a rare move, he allowed Children’s Television Workshop executives to look at the script, according to the Times. 

The move worked in his favor, as the execs agreed to the sketch, and Caroll Spinney, who has played Big Bird since 1969, was told to bring out his feathered costume.

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The sketch brought Big Bird back into the news, and he didn’t have to compromise his political affiliations to do so.

Joining Seth Meyers at the “Weekend Update” anchor desk, Big Bird declined to make a political statement on Romney’s vow to axe federal funding for PBS.

“I don’t want to ruffle any feathers,” Big Bird quipped.

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