The announcement that Donald Trump would be hosting NBC's "Saturday Night Live" wasn't exactly met with universal fanfare. Leading artists, scientists and intellectuals from the Latino community — including Junot Díaz, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Diego Luna — signed an open letter protesting Trump's appearance on SNL.
Additionally, a coalition of advocacy groups delivered a petition to NBC with reportedly more than half-a-million people demanding that Trump be removed from the program.
Brian Lowry is a TV critic for Variety.com, and when he joined us on The Frame, he talked about SNL's rationale for having Trump host, whether the show might lose advertisers or be forced to deal with hecklers as a result, and why it might be too late to pull Trump from "Saturday Night Live."
NBC and SNL have angered a big part of the Latino community, including some very prominent artists, as well as others who are upset that they've booked Donald Trump as host. Why would the network and Lorne Michaels do this? Is it a ratings grab, or did they underestimate the power of Donald Trump?
I think it's a ratings grab, and more than anything it's an attention grab. And I would venture that this likely came from Lorne Michaels, without a lot of consultation with NBC. NBC very conspicuously sought to sever ties with Donald Trump over the summer over some of his more potentially inflammatory remarks, and I think this is really just a case of SNL doing what SNL does — attempting to be provocative and sticking its thumb in the eye of the establishment.
Do you think they're a little bit out of touch with the real sensitivities here?
Well, I don't think it's so much the sensitivities. I really think that this is such a multifaceted issue, but they were absolutely out of touch with the Pandora's Box they were opening. SNL has always featured politicians on the show; it's been a great place for conservative politicians to show that they can have a sense of humor about themselves.
But there's a difference between having someone drop in for a cameo versus having them host in the middle of what is not only one of the most crowded primary fields we've ever seen, but also one of the most unorthodox races we've ever seen.
We're a day away from the broadcast, and I think it's safe to say that NBC is probably not going to pull Trump from "Saturday Night Live." Trump himself has predicted that the show will get some of its best ratings ever, but do you think that's true?
I think it will get big numbers and I think there will be a lot of curiosity about it. Everything associated with Trump in this campaign cycle has done well. His interviews have done well and the debates have done well.
He's a showman, and he's brought an element of unpredictability to this process, so I think the ratings will be quite good. I think the question is [whether] the ratings be worth the amount of Sturm und Drang that's been associated with this. That's something I really question.