|"Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special"|
|Saturday Night Live episode|
Special's promo card
|Episode no.||Season 40
|Directed by||Don Roy King|
|Narrated by||Darrell Hammond|
|Presented by||See list|
|Produced by||Lorne Michaels|
|Original air date||February 15, 2015|
|Running time||211 minutes (with commercials)|
|Awards||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special (2015)|
The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special is a three-and-a-half-hour prime-time special that aired on Sunday, February 15, 2015, on NBC, celebrating Saturday Night Live's 40th year on the air, having premiered on October 11, 1975, under the original title NBC's Saturday Night. This special generated 23.1 million viewers, becoming NBC's most-watched prime-time, non-sports, entertainment telecast (excluding Super Bowl lead-outs) since the Friends series finale in 2004. It is the third such anniversary special to be broadcast, with celebratory episodes also held during the 15th and 25th seasons.
The special was preceded on NBC by an hour-long SNL 40th Red Carpet Live, hosted by Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Carson Daly and Al Roker, who interviewed past hosts, current and previous cast members, and musical legends who had previously performed on the show.
The special followed the format of a typical Saturday Night Live episode, extended to 3½ hours instead of the usual 1½, and included a cold open, a monologue, sketches, a short film, commercial parodies, and musical performances. The sketches, most of which were revivals of sketches that appeared over the show's run, made reference to the show and its four decades on air, with the original cast members who appeared in those sketches reprising their roles along with numerous guest stars. A handful of commercial parodies, including "Colon Blow" and "Mom Jeans," reran as they originally appeared on the show.
The show included musical performances by:
This special assembled together a large list of current and former cast members, hosts, and musical acts from throughout the show's forty seasons. Show creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels stated that every host and most musical guests were invited, plus any cast member and writer who had been on the show more than a year. Ultimately, over a hundred in all were then confirmed to appear.
In the opening sequence, 80 performers were credited. Unlike a regular episode, all performers were credited as repertory (including Leslie Jones and Pete Davidson). Fred Armisen, Dan Aykroyd, Alec Baldwin, Vanessa Bayer, Jim Belushi, Candice Bergen, Win Butler, Jim Carrey, Dana Carvey, Chevy Chase, Louis C.K., Ellen Cleghorne, Bradley Cooper, Billy Crystal, Jane Curtin, Miley Cyrus, Larry David, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Rachel Dratch, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Will Forte, James Franco, Zach Galifianakis, Ana Gasteyer, John Goodman, Bill Hader, Darrell Hammond, Tom Hanks, Derek Jeter, Dakota Johnson, Taran Killam, Jon Lovitz, Norm Macdonald, Peyton Manning, Steve Martin, Melissa McCarthy, Paul McCartney, Kate McKinnon, Tim Meadows, Seth Meyers, Bobby Moynihan, Garrett Morris, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Kevin Nealon, Laraine Newman, Jack Nicholson, Edward Norton, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Palin, Joe Piscopo, Amy Poehler, Colin Quinn, Keith Richards, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph, Andy Samberg, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Shaffer, Molly Shannon, Martin Short, Paul Simon, David Spade, Emma Stone, Cecily Strong, Jason Sudeikis, Taylor Swift, Kenan Thompson, Justin Timberlake, Kerry Washington, Kanye West, Betty White, Kristen Wiig, and Sasheer Zamata.
Also in attendance were Arcade Fire, Tom Arnold, The B-52s, Backstreet Boys, Christine Baranski, Lance Bass, Beck Bennett, Michael Bolton, Jim Breuer, A. Whitney Brown, Steve Buscemi, Aidy Bryant, AJ Calloway, Kate Capshaw, 50 Cent, Dave Chappelle, Michael Che, Glenn Close, David Cone, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Alan Cumming, Carson Daly, Charlie Day, Rocsi Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diddy, Christopher Dodd, Jean Doumanian, Robin Duke, Nora Dunn, Christine Ebersole, Ari Emanuel, Siobhan Fallon, Paul Feig, Steve Forbes, Al Franken, Rudy Giuliani, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Cuba Gooding Jr., Gilbert Gottfried, Elliott Gould, Tom Green, Robert Greenblatt, Savannah Guthrie, Steve Guttenberg, Haim, Jon Hamm, Cheryl Hardwick, Debbie Harry, Kevin Hart, Birgen Hartman, Sean Hayes, Grace Hightower, Melanie Hutsell, Victoria Jackson, Colin Jost, Jon Bon Jovi, Kim Kardashian, Chris Kattan, Tim Kazurinsky, Gary Kroeger, Kings of Leon, Robert Klein, Kevin Kline, Johnny Knoxville, David Koechner, Jane Krakowski, Gary Kroeger, Matt Lauer, Lucy Liu, Chris Lowell, George Lucas, Ludacris, Natasha Lyonne, Kyle MacLachlan, Eli Manning, Penny Marshall, MC Hammer, Dylan McDermott, John McEnroe, Bennett Miller, Finesse Mitchell, Kyle Mooney, Mumford & Sons, Randy Newman, Joanna Newsom, Don Novello, Bill O'Reilly, Cheri Oteri, Chris Parnell, David Paterson, Nasim Pedrad, Jay Pharoah, Ryan Phillippe, Prince, Brett Ratner, Jeff Richards, Brian L. Roberts, Al Roker, Paul Rudd, Horatio Sanz, Diane Sawyer, Rob Schneider, Jessica Seinfeld, Al Sharpton, Sia, Gabourey Sidibe, Sarah Silverman, J.K. Simmons, Christian Slater, Robert Smigel, G. E. Smith, J.B. Smoove, Trey Songz, Steven Spielberg, Julia Sweeney, Alex Trebek, Joe Torre, Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Christopher Walken. Sigourney Weaver, David Wells, Jack White, Olivia Wilde, Fred Willard, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Of those former hosts, musical guests, former cast members and writers invited, the people who sent back an RSVP were then considered to be written for. Dan Aykroyd specifically asked Lorne Michaels about doing a "Bass-O-Matic" sketch, while Mike Myers and Dana Carvey requested to reprise Wayne's World. Michaels stated that since different generations of former cast members were coming, they wanted to do sketches featuring mashups between different casts.
Writer Jim Downey conceived the idea of Nick the Lounge Singer singing the theme to Jaws way back in the 1970s, but was never able to pull it off during Bill Murray's tenure on SNL. They were unsure if they could obtain the necessary copyright clearance to show footage of Jaws on a monitor in the background until they realized that, since NBC had already acquired the rights to Jaws with its purchase of Universal Pictures in 2002, they could just ask director Steven Spielberg, who was in attendance.
Eddie Murphy was originally asked to play Bill Cosby in the "Celebrity Jeopardy!" sketch, but refused.
Nora Dunn was asked to participate in the musical medley as Liz Sweeney, but refused because Jan Hooks (the other Sweeney Sister) died.
A 15-second spot premiered during the Super Bowl XLIX broadcast and – along with two other 15-second clips – was uploaded on to the official Saturday Night Live YouTube page. While the clips promoted appearances by Jon Hamm and Paul Rudd, neither of these occurred during the live show. Numerous articles, features and interviews were published in the weeks prior to the broadcast.
Partly to promote the special, TV network VH1 Classic aired every episode of SNL up to then – in reverse order – from January 27 to February 15, ending with the first episode just before the special.
The special gained 23.1 million viewers, becoming NBC's most-watched prime-time, non-sports, entertainment telecast (excluding Super Bowl lead-outs) since the Friends series finale in 2004.