An easy way to rediscover just how much Saturday Night Live has changed in the past two years is to look back four years to James Franco’s documentary, Saturday Night, which premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival and only now today appears online for the rest of us to watch via Hulu Plus.
Even The Comic’s Comic’s footage from that event is grainy and seemingly more archival, as Franco sat with then-cast members Will Forte, Kenan Thompson and Jenny Slate. Only Thompson remains in the cast in 2014 as SNL launches its 40th season.
But back to 2010. Or rather, December 2008.
That’s when Franco, as a film student at NYU, documented one week behind the scenes of SNL with full access with the cast thanks to Lorne Michaels. You may have read plenty over the years about a typical week’s schedule — from Monday afternoon pitch meetings with the host, to the Tuesday night all-nighters, Wednesday table reads, through set design and rehearsals to the all-important early Saturday evening dress rehearsal and ultimately the live show. But if you want to see what it’s like, virtually, then watch this. It follows the week-long production of the Dec. 6, 2008, episode hosted by John Malkovich with musical guest T.I (season 34, episode 10).