Magazine article Variety

It’s ‘Saturday Night’ Alive and Well Abroad

Magazine article Variety

It’s ‘Saturday Night’ Alive and Well Abroad

Article excerpt

The surge of interest in "Saturday Night Live" during the past year has spread beyond U.S. borders.

NBCUniversal Intl. Studios is in the midst of a format-sales push to set up local editions of the venerable sketch comedy around the world. "Saturday Night Live" South Korea is in its ninth season on TVN. A Middle-Eastern edition airs on OSN. France's M6 experimented with a well-received "SNL" special in January.

China is among the new markets preparing to launch "SNL," expected to air this winter on the Youku streaming service owned by Alibaba Group. The expansion in the world's most populous country reflects NBCUniversal's heightened investment in international TV production.

Michael Edelstein, president of London-based NBCUniversal Intl. Studios, says the China deal came about because of the studio's solid relationship with Youku.

"We knew the platform was on the hunt for established global brands that appeal to a younger demographic. It was only natural that they would become the perfect home for 'SNL,' " Edelstein says.

Undoubtedly, "SNL" in China will operate under different rules of engagement than the mothership institution in terms of satirizing government officials and other authorities. "Localization and great Chinese comedic talent will be the key to the show's success," Edelstein says.

Edelstein's division has organized what he calls "a bespoke boot camp service" to aid international "SNL" producers. The local teams spend a week shadowing the New York production staff, attending everything from script meetings to costume and set design sessions. …

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