Already Lorne Michaels has asked Jim Downey to write another Hillary vs Obama skit to open the next Saturday Night Live show. (With Ellen Page hosting, the Juno star might play Chelsea Clinton.) Not bad for a veteran SNL writer who 10 years ago was fired by NBC for going after politicians in power on the show’s “Weekend Update”. Not only did Downey’s savvy opener last Saturday suddenly make SNL hot again, but Hillary Clinton cited the skit during yesterday’s Democratic President Debate. “In the last several debates I seem to get the first question all the time,” she said. “I don’t mind. I’ll be happy to field it. I just find it curious if anybody saw ‘Saturday Night Live’ maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow.”
Downey has had his share of ups and downs with SNL and NBC. The show’s most political and veteran writer, Downey in 1998 was infamously fired along with Norm MacDonald by then NBC West Coast head Don Ohlmeyer. (The way I heard it at the time, Jim was really the guy Ohlmeyer wanted removed; when Norm refused to go along with that, he took a bullet, too.) Downey came back to SNL in 2000 (after Ohlmeyer left NBC) just in time to skewer the Bush-Gore debates. Unless NBC gets cold feet again, he should stay busy this campaign season which SNL sat out because of the strike up until now.