'Saturday Night Live' Explains Why It's Hard to Make Jokes About Harvey Weinstein

Weekend Update Saturday Night Live
Courtesy of NBC

Colin Jost on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.

With Saturday Night Live newly airing live coast to coast, many Hollywood eyes were likely feasting on Saturday's show (Oct. 14) with expectations about how it would tackle the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal.

Instead of opening Saturday night with its take on Weinstein, SNL kicked off with another President Donald Trump take from Alec Baldwin. From Puerto Rico and Rex Tillerson to Eminem, Baldwin's Trump went through his list of this week's targets before announcing, "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!"

Many viewers on Twitter were quick to call out the NBC series for skipping out on a Weinstein-centered cold open, as the scandal wasn't touched until nearly midway through the night. First, with a Hollywood actress roundtable sketch and next, the lead story during Weekend Update.

Colin Jost and Michael Che immediately took on Weinstein at their newsdesk, with Jost opining that the mogul doesn't need to go to a facility in Europe for sex rehab, as was reported, and that he instead needs to go to prison. "He doesn't need sex rehab," he said. "He needs a specialized facility where there are no women, no contact with the outside world, metal bars -- and it's a prison."

Che explained how the story puts comedians in a tough spot, since it's hard to make jokes about sexual assault. Though, he added, it's easy to make jokes about his looks ("he looks like chewed bubblegum rolled in cat hair," he joked).

But Che did take issue with Weinstein's response to reporters where he said, "We all make mistakes." Che said flatly, "No, man. A mistake is me walking into the wrong bathroom and using it anyway because I was crowning. He assaulted dozens of women. That's not a mistake. That's a full season of Law & Order. Your name's a verb now, dude. As in, 'If this guy tries to Weinstein me, I'm going to cut off his little Harvey.' Doesn’t he look like a well-dressed skin tag?"

Ahead of the weekly news desk, Aidy Bryant returned to host a New York Film Festival actress roundtable where the moderator was joined by actresses Viola Davis (Leslie Jones), Marion Cotillard (Cecily Strong) and Kate McKinnon's recurring aging actress, Debette Goldlry, for a topical discussion of sexual harassment in Hollywood.

Asked if they had ever experienced sexual harassment in general, the answer was a collective, of course. "I did have one meeting with Harvey," said McKinnon's Goldry. "He invited me to his hotel room and when I arrived he was naked, hanging upside down from a monkey bar. Trying to trick me into thinking his genitals were his face. It almost worked, the resemblance was uncanny."

The discussion included many circling questions that have surfaced post-scandal, including how men tend to cover up for other men, why actors keep referencing how they have daughters in their responses and the "whisper system" between actresses who warn one another about predators.

"There's a secret code to warn each other about creeps," said Goldry. "The code was: He raped me. If any men were listening, they'd tune us right out." She added, "Being a family man doesn't make you some kind of hero. Even Hitler had a sister."

The episode, which was hosted by Kumail Nanjiani with musical guest P!nk, comes after criticism over how late-night TV initially handled covering the story. News of Weinstein's alleged years of sexual misconduct first broke on Thursday in the New York Times exposé, with the story picking up steam over the weekend and spurring countless subsequent claims, including a Tuesday report from The New Yorker that included three rape allegations against the now-embattled movie mogul.

Though TV's late-night talk-show hosts were criticized for their collective delay in addressing the scandal, the Times piece was posted Thursday afternoon only hours before most shows taped that night's episode. ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live, CBS' Late Late Show With Stephen Colbert and NBC's Late Night With Seth Meyers regularly air reruns on Friday night.

SNL reportedly shelved Weinstein jokes last-minute ahead of Saturday's episode and when asked why, creator Lorne Michaels said, "It's a New York thing." The Times explained the meaning behind Michaels' comment via an anonymous source, who claimed the executive producer meant that at the time, Weinstein was still only a New York media story.

Weinstein has since been fired from the company he co-created The Weinstein Co., expelled by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a rare move (Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Mel Gibson all remain in the academy's ranks) and both the New York and London police have opened investigations. Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman, has left him as more and more accusations are brought to light each day. More than 30 women, including actresses Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have gone public with accusations against the disgraced producer, who has denied any nonconsensual sexual conduct with any women.

NBC also found itself a target of Trump's this week, when the president threatened to revoke the company's broadcast license after a report claimed to explain why Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly called the president a "moron." When opening the show, the licensing threat was absent from the list of Trump's targets.

Some of the viewers who called out the veteran sketch show on Twitter for opening on a "tired" bit about Trump's week instead of taking on Weinstein from the get-go are below.

SNL returns Nov. 4 with host Larry David and musical guest Miley Cyrus.

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