Imagine the video open to NBC Nightly News as a James Bond-style montage featuring Brian Williams as 007: roughing up villains, brandishing a tux and a gun, with Bond girls at his side. That was the idea posed by Williams in one Saturday Night Live skit last night. Instead of the familiar NN theme song playing in the background, the new-and-improved version had lyrics such as:
“Watch out world, cause here comes Williams…
Watch out bad guys, here comes Williams…
Kickin’-and a-punchin, that’s Brian Williams!”
Williams spoofed his anchor job in a few other sketches as well. In one, a “day-in-the-life” video diary, he stands outside 30 Rock, waiting for someone to recognize him (a passerby exclaims, ‘Hey, Stone Phillips!’), eats in the NBC cafeteria, and throws pennies from his office window down onto the heads of the unsuspecting Al Roker and Matt Lauer, as they stand outside on the Plaza (Lauer: ‘What kind of an *@#hole throws pennies from a building?’).
In another, he takes on political satire in a skit spoofing the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate he co-moderated this week in Philadelphia. Talking with the contenders in the green room before they all go on-air, Williams tells them that Sen. Hillary Clinton will appear in the center spot on-stage, since “all of us in the media want her to be the nominee!”
In other bits, Williams doesn’t play Williams, but rather a Publishers Clearing House $15 million giveaway winner who is spectacularly blase about his earnings. He also portrays an actor playing a principal on a show about high school kids. Williams did not appear in “Weekend Update”.
Today, predictably, reaction is coming in. The AP’s Frazier Moore summarizes that “newsman Brian Williams unleashed his inner comic for all to see. As host…the NBC News anchor displayed some solid comedy chops — and a readiness to laugh at himself.”
In a panel discussion on CNN’s Reliable Sources today, Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, expressed concern about Williams’ hosting duties: “I think it blurred the line between entertainment and news.”