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Posts tagged as jim downey

Inside the Confusing Origins of David Letterman's Top Ten List

The following excerpt is reprinted with permission from Brian Abrams's new book AND NOW…An Oral History of "Late Night with David Letterman," 1982-1983, which is currently available to purchase at Amazon Kindle Singles.

By the summer of 1985, head writer Steve O’Donnell was no longer scouring for new personnel to come up with remote concepts and “Viewer Mail” pieces. (Monologue material stayed plentiful, as staffer Gerry Mulligan continued to oversee that part of the show.) Including co-creators Merrill Markoe and David Letterman, 13 individuals populated the writers’ room, and submissions from prospective writers continued to stack high on O’Donnell’s desk. An unassuming 23-year-old Tufts University grad named [...]

Read Some New Excerpts from the Updated 'Live from New York' Book

The new and extended version of Tom Shales and James Miller's SNL oral history book Live from New York isn't out until September 9th, but in the meantime THR has released a few exclusive excerpts from the book all about the show's more recent political satire, from how Tina Fey's Sarah Palin was born to why Robert Smigel's last TV Funhouse segment was rejected to Fred Armisen and Jay Pharoah's Obama impersonations. Here's Horatio Sanz on the opposing political sensibilities of former head writers Jim Downey and Seth Meyers:

I don't think the show itself has ever let its freak flag fly in the last 20 [...]

Saturday Night's Children: Jim Downey (1979-1980)

Aside from having the best set of lines in Billy Madison, Jim Downey is best known for having a long writing tenure at SNL second only to Lorne Michaels. Downey joined the show at the same time as Bill Murray in 1976, and with only a few exceptions (including a break in the early '80s to serve as head writer at Letterman), he was a regular fixture on the writing staff until the end of last year, serving as the show's longest-running head writer from 1986-1995 and knighted ruler of SNL's political cold open sketches. Despite being better remembered as a writer, Downey also spent a single season [...]