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XFL Turns 'SNL' Into Not Ready for Overtime Players

February 13, 2001|PAUL BROWNFIELD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Forget the players--Week 2 of the XFL caused headaches at "Saturday Night Live," which didn't air until a few minutes after midnight across much of the country because the game between the Los Angeles Xtreme and the Chicago Enforcers at the Coliseum went into double overtime.

SNL was seen in its regular 11:30 p.m. time slot on the West Coast, but the delay elsewhere chagrined producers at "SNL," who had Jennifer Lopez as both host and musical guest. The late-night comedy show was expecting to score big ratings with Lopez, who currently stars in the movie "The Wedding Planner."

"In a lab, you couldn't have created better heat than we had last week," said an "SNL" source, referring to Lopez and the momentum the show had hoped to turn into strong ratings. Instead, "SNL's" "hottest show of the year goes 45 minutes late for the all-important second game of the XFL. We're more used to getting bumped by Game 6 of the World Series," the source added.

According to preliminary overnight estimates, the show's rating was a disappointing 6.3, meaning it was seen by 6.3% of homes in 49 major markets monitored by Nielsen Media Research. In addition to being delayed, SNL was hardly helped by the XFL as a lead-in. Ratings there were down 50% from the new football league's debut two weekends ago.

Cameron Blanchard, a spokesperson for NBC Sports, said such a delay was not likely to recur because "overtime games will be the rarity, not the norm." Still, an NBC spokesperson acknowledged that the network was looking at the "SNL" delay as a snafu, saying: "They've got five days to figure it out."

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