Irish rights to ‘Saturday Night Live’ optioned by Kite

Makers of ‘Gogglebox’ pitching ‘monster’ US comedy and variety format to broadcasters

 Melissa McCarthy as White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump in a recent airing of  Saturday Night Live. Photograph:  Will Heath/NBC/NBCU

Melissa McCarthy as White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump in a recent airing of Saturday Night Live. Photograph: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU

 

Kite Entertainment, which makes TV3’s Gogglebox, have optioned the Irish rights to the US television format Saturday Night Live from NBC Universal.

The ensemble comedy sketch and variety show, which has been running since 1975, has never had a higher profile in Ireland than it does at present, following “viral” sketches in which Melissa McCarthy impersonated White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Alec Baldwin portrayed Donald Trump.

Kite has optioned the rights in the hope that an Irish broadcaster will commission an Irish version of the show, which features a rotating cast of comedians, actors and other celebrities.

“We have the rights to go to pitch it to broadcasters and talk to talent about performing and writing for it,” said Kite managing director Darren Smith.

International versions

Although several international versions of Saturday Night Live have aired over the years – and not always on Saturday nights – it is understood this would be the only other English language version.

The two-hour running time means it would be “a monster” to make, but Kite believes the format is ideally suited to Irish comedy and television culture.

“There is always an appetite for satire here,” Mr Smith said.

The production company will on Friday evening host a “satire session” at the Dalkey Book Festival featuring Paul Howard, Colm Williamson of Waterford Whispers News and Blindboyboatclub from Rubberbandits.

Kite was the producer behind Howard’s Anglo the Musical, while Smith and comedian Deirdre O’Kane recently spearheaded the first ever Irish Comic Relief event, holding a St Patrick’s Day gig at the 3Arena described as a “who’s who” of Irish comedy.