GRIDLOCK DEVELOPING ON SATURDAY NIGHT

Buzz told you early on that Fox was prepping a Mad Magazine show to go against “Saturday Night Live” (Variety, May 15,1995). There might be even more of a crowd if DreamWorks is successful in talking ABC into doing a weekly variety show starring Martin Short. Short’s free of NBC, which made him a star in “Saturday Night Live,” then failed with a sitcom.

Though his talents haven’t translated to films or sitcoms, many feel Short’s got potential; he recently starred in a onetime show in the “SNL” timeslot. While sketch rivals mobilize, “SNL” continues its overhaul, interviewing comedy scribes with an eye toward hiring a committee of writer/producers instead of one chief after Jim Downey exited. But candidates are rebelling against that. Rob Smigel and Adam Resnick (“Get a Life”) have passed, while “Deep Thoughts” guy Jack Handey and HBO “Hardcore TV” co-creator Steve Kerper are still in the running. Options on cast members need to be picked up by July 1, and none of the players knows anything yet, except that Norm MacDonald will be back to anchor “Weekend Update.” Stalwarts Adam Sandler, Chris Farley and David Spade are in high demand for movies, and sources say they’d prefer not to return, though all have time on their contracts.

Though Lome Michaels and NBC are somewhat estranged, some feel that he saved the show five years ago, the last time it was a train wreck, and could do it again.

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