October 21, 2016
        "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race                "The Jungle Book," "Zootopia" and Craft Artists to be Honored at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Ben Affleck's "Live By Night" officially is a 2016 contender        

Betty White on SNL, Sandra Bullock and Rue McClanahan

By Fred Topel

Facebook fans petitioned to have Betty White host Saturday Night Live and it worked. White will host the May 8 episode for Mother’s Day. Despite the warm response she has gotten from the fans, White still needed convincing to accept the gig. Fans can thank White’s agent for basically forcing her to do SNL. 

“At my age, I’m an old broad and at my age, to be invited to do a show as current and choice as Saturday Night Live would be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a different direction to go in,” White said in a conference call with the media. “I said I’d rather watch it than do it and he said no, no, no. So I trust his judgment. He’s done a wonderful job for me so here I am, going to do it and scared to death.”

On April 28, a full week and a half before her show airs, White has not even met with the SNL writers yet. She’ll hear pitches next week. Maybe they’ll put her on the musical talk show “What Up With That” or in the classroom with Gilly.

“I enjoy them all,” White said. “I kind of like the surprise of not knowing which one I’m going to be. I’m trying not to form any pre-opinions because I don’t have a clue what they’re going to ask me to do. I don’t know an inch of anything they have planned so I’m trying to keep an open mind.”

White has one idea of her own. She’d have a little fun with all the anticipation for her hosting gig.

“My only suggestion was, everybody said, ‘When you come out for the introduction everybody’s going to be so excited.’ I’d love if they introduce me, ‘Here’s Betty White,’ and nothing. No applause, the audience just stares back at me. I think that could be fun.”

Otherwise, White is open to anything, except for “dope jokes.” She won’t make light of addictions, but anything else is fair game. “All I know is I have veto power if it’s something I really don’t want to do. They promised me I wouldn’t have to do any nudity.”

On last summer’s hit film The Proposal, White became friends with Sandra Bullock. She knows better than to discuss her colleague’s divorce in public. “I love her dearly and her personal life is her business, not certainly mine and not anybody else’s.”

On happier terms, White can talk about her Golden Girls costar Rue McClanahan. McClanahan had a rough patch suffering a stroke earlier this year. The good news is she’s doing great now.

“Oh, Ruthy we talk about every maybe three, four weeks,” Whites said. “She lives in NY of course and she had a bum go. She had a triple bypass and then had a stroke and she’s just doing fine. I talked to her. She’s home and just doing better and better. Her speech is all cleared up.”

Other celebrities on White’s radar include Jay-Z, who is the musical guest on her SNL episode. “Oh, I’m thrilled to meet him and thrilled to hear that he’s going to be on the show because he’s the hottest thing since sliced bread. I will certainly enjoy him. I hope that we get along well.”

Live TV doesn’t scare White. That’s in her blood. “Well, I grew up in live television so that’s no problem. I was on five ½ hours a day six days a week for four years when I started my career in Los Angeles so I love live television.”

The only difference now is that she can’t see the cue cards. “I never have been able to work from cue cards. I memorize everything or ad lib it. I know with the changing scripts, it changes as you speak, that won’t be possible. With cue cards, I hope I don’t have to wear my glasses. I hope the print is big enough. If it isn’t, I’ll do the show with my glasses.”

Betty White hosts Saturday Night Live on May 8.


About Fred Topel

Fred Topel has been an entertainment journalist in Los Angeles since 1999, for websites like Daily Radar, About.com, Crave Online and Sci Fi Wire. Follow his celebrity encounters on Twitter @FredTopel.

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