Bowing to pressure from the Anti-Defamation League, NBC has agreed to never again air portions of a Dec. 4 “Saturday Night Live” sketch in which a faux Britney Spears refers to Jews as “having killed our Lord” Jesus Christ.
“SNL” exec producer Lorne Michaels, however, is insisting the issue is not settled.
The brewing controversy revolves around a parody presented on “SNL” earlier this month of CBS’s recent yuletide spec “And So This Is Christmas.” The sketch was a mock promo hyping an imaginary Eye spec called “And So This Is Chanukah.” Members of the “SNL” troupe, appearing as various pop music stars such as Ricky Martin, Lou Bega and Tori Amos, were shown singing several fake Chanukah songs.
What outraged ADL officials was a portion of the skit featuring faux representations of pop divas Spears, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey talking about their participation in the spec.
In one scene, Dion (played by “SNL” vet Ana Gasteyer) refers to Jews owning all the movie studios and banks. Most offensive to the ADL, however, was another scene in which Spears (“SNL” guest host Christina Ricci) says Christians have forgiven Jews “for having killed our Lord.”
‘Stereotypes at their worst’
The Dion and Spears comments “represent anti-Semitic stereotypes at their worst and which have been at the root of much suffering in our own century,” ADL national director Abe Foxman said in a letter sent to Roz Weinman, NBC’s exec veep of East Coast Entertainment and broadcast content policy.
“We have worked with the Vatican and others for the last fifty years to educate against this poisonous doctrine, and for ‘SNL,’ in a lame attempt at humor, to revive this notion is unacceptable,” Foxman added.
According to ADL Los Angeles associate director Amy Levy, Foxman wrote to NBC on Dec. 7 after receiving numerous complaints about the sketch from across the country.
Weinman responded to Foxman’s protest Friday, writing that after “having had a chance to review the material in question, we have decided that a portion of the sketch, featuring the parodies of Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, was problematic, and, therefore, will be excised from all future broadcasts.”
Not so fast there, folks
Michaels, however, isn’t convinced the matter is settled.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s still under discussion,” the “SNL” exec producer said late Tuesday through a spokesman. Michaels was unavailable for further comment, and an NBC spokesman declined to elaborate on Weinman’s written remarks to Foxman.
The move by NBC represents the second time in as many years the Peacock has “banned” an “SNL” seg from being repeated. Last year, the web pulled forever a Robert Smigel cartoon that linked NBC owner General Electric to various conspiracy theories.
In his letter to Weinman, Foxman was careful to recognize “SNL’s” role as a skein designed “to poke fun at institutions and individuals in society.” He added that other parts of the Chanukah sketch, while perhaps offensive, “would fall into that legitimate irreverent category.”