The trouble with network conference calls is you wind up with a whole bunch of people writing basically the same story. That's the case this weekend as features emerge leading up to Betty White's appearance as host tonight on Saturday Night Live (NBC, Global, 11:29 p.m.). The 88-year-old TV icon took questions from critics a week ago and was fun and spirited on the phone, asking one scribe if he was into older women in a sassy throw back to her days as man-hungry TV homemaker Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
A familiar voice on the conference call was Rob Salem from The Toronto Star. Salem roared with laughter as White joked about hitting on the crew members if it turns out that there are only female comedy troupers on tonight's Mother's Day edition of SNL.
At the end of these 30-minute calls everybody winds up with the same quotes from which to spin a story. How you piece it all together sometimes falls along regional lines. A critic from Cleveland, for example, was all over White's new TVLand sitcom set in his city. (She's teaming with Valarie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendy Malick in Hot In Cleveland.) The critic from San Antonio wanted to know if White will have time to give a shout out to the guy who started the "Betty White to Host SNL (please?)" Facebook site--also, it turns out, a San Antonio resident.
The rest of us just take White's great humour and good nature and try to type it all up into something that helps get the word out about her SNL gig. What the hell, the kid needs a break, this could really lead to something.
Read my take on White's conference call here and check out how Salem at The Star turned it all around here.