Despite a dreary, rainy evening in New York City on Thursday, more than 750 guests — a melange of Hollywood, the culturati, New York society and the current cast of “Saturday Night Live” — stepped out to attend the American Museum of Natural History’s annual black-tie museum benefit. Lorne Michaels, executive producer of ‘SNL,’ and Tina Fey co-chaired the swanky gala, which raises money for the museum’s educational and scientific programming.
On the red carpet, ‘SNL’ cast members were buzzing about working with Matthew McConaughey, who for the first time in 14 years, is hosting the show on Nov. 21. The actors raved about the Oscar-winner’s strong work ethic and willingness to make fun of himself.”Matthew McConaughey has never disappointed a human being in his life, and he’s not picking this week to do that,” said Bobby Moynihan. “He is the best. He’s already been wonderful, and is going to kill it as a host. He’s been helping us write stuff and has lots of funny ideas.”
Colin Jost, co-host of “Weekend Update” and member of the show’s writing staff, said: “He’s approaching everything from such a character-driven place. So when he’s doing a sketch, he wants the person he’s playing to be a fully-formed three-dimensional character. There’s literally a sketch where he’s playing a version of a 3D, printed man, like someone made from a 3D printer. Even in that, he wants it to be a full person. He gets deep, which is a great challenge for a writer on the show. It’s really exciting.”
Fey spoke of how ecstatic she is to be heading back to Studio 8H to co-host ‘SNL’ with Amy Poehler on Dec. 19. The pair will be promoting their Universal comedy “Sisters.” Bruce Springsteen, who returns to ‘SNL’ for the first time since 2002, will join them as musical guest.
“We are so excited and cannot wait,” said Fey. “We are trying to think of ideas right now, but in typical ‘SNL’ fashion, we’ll write it the week of the show. But,” she reveals, “expect lots of funny jokes and of course, political ones too. It’s ‘SNL!'”
Fey is also a big museum advocate. “The Natural History Museum is one of my favorite museums to visit and it’s one the great resources of New York City,” she told Variety while mingling with guests during the seated dinner held inside the museum’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. “It’s visited by five million people a year and many of them are school children. I love that it’s a research institution, an educational facility and a place where you can have fun. You can’t underestimate the importance of science in our culture.” Then she spoke of her own museum experiences. “I grew up in Philadelphia and we had the Franklin Institute, which was a hands-on science museum. I got to learn and explore and let my imagination run wild. I have two children, and to bring them to this place now is fantastic. They get to learn and experience science up close, like I did as a child.”
With Seth Meyers hosting a special performance by Grammy winner Michael Buble, the night’s soiree welcomed guests including Ben Stiller, Steve Martin and his wife, writer Anne Stringfield, Robert De Niro, Brian Williams, Helen Mirren, Taylor Hackford, Ellie Kemper, Tony Bennett, Tom Brokaw, singer Sara Bareilles, Gayle King, Natasha Lyonne, New York Mets player Matt Harvey and Jon Hamm. All had an entertaining time while helping to raise funds for the famous museum that houses more than 32 million specimens and artifacts.
“Museums are very important. It’s a representation of how wonderful a city is,” Hamm told Variety. “Nights like this are an opportunity for people to give back and express how they contribute to the fabric that makes a city like New York as excellent as it is. Obviously there are some rough times in the world right now, but I think it’s important for people to come together and support this institution that makes this city so vibrant.”
The “Mad Men” star and Emmy winner said visiting museums as a kid in his hometown of Missouri helped to awaken his imagination and spontaneity.
“I would go to the art museums in St. Louis and it inspired me to think bigger and to see things differently,” he said. “I believe the arts and sciences are so important in shaping a person’s creativity. It’s helped me.”