No, it's true. Apparently Brian Williams is hosting Saturday Night Live on November 3rd.
So what does this mean for NBC News?
Full disclosure: Brian Williams was one of my favorite Imus guests. From the moment he took over Brokaw's seat to around April 10, 2007, I thought Williams was one of the standard-bearers of television journalism. (Of course, I thought the same about Tim Russert, which goes to show you.) Williams is, truth be told, absolutely hysterical. He even cameoed briefly on last year's SNL premiere, and outdid the actual cast. I actually believe that if SNL ditched the skits and had Brian Williams perform an hour and a half of stand-up, it would probably be the funniest show they've had in years.
That said, I don't think this is the right time.
When I read the news I asked myself, "Is this really any different than him joking around with Imus or Jon Stewart?"
Yes. It's different.
For starters, when Brian went on Imus or goes on Leno or Stewart, he is playing Brian Williams. A funnier, snarkier Williams, sure, but it's the same guy.
But when Williams goes on SNL, he will likely play different characters. Saturday Night Live consists of different sketches - he could theoretically be anybody. He could be a construction worker. He could be a caveman. He could be a male gigolo. Anything. Can you picture Williams being a Roxbury Guy, or hanging out with Wayne and Garth, or cheering with the Spartan Cheerleaders?
High-profile people have hosted before this. Rudy Giuliani did the show when he was mayor. Al Gore and John McCain have also hosted. But to my knowledge, the only journalist who has ever been on was Jimmy Breslin, back in 1986.
Plus, consider the fact that SNL is not very family-friendly. What if Williams swears? What if he tells a dick joke? That won't go over well with the nice old ladies who make up his audience. Also, you know that if Williams even slightly makes fun of conservatives or liberals, he's going to be hounded as being biased.
While Williams has an excellent shot at making a memorable episode, this is not the time to try it. Think about the hits to NBC News's image in 2007. There was Imus, of course. Then there was the Virginia Tech incident, when NBC decided that putting their logo on the ramblings of a mass murderer was safer than putting it on the I-Man's picture. Then there was the attempt to buy a Paris Hilton interview for $1 million. The list goes on.
After all that, someone decided that it was OK for the face of NBC News, the Heir to Brokaw, to be silly on live television.
So much for "the standards of our reporters," the excuse they used to fire Imus.
I haven't watched Williams since April, but the SNL geek in me compels me to see this. So I'll keep you posted. Who knows, maybe Williams will have his own NHH moment...