Fans leveraging the "Betty White to Host SNL (please?)" Facebook fan page are proclaiming a social media victory. NBC announced Thursday that they have finally booked the 88-year-old actress to host a special "Women in Comedy" Saturday Night Live show on May 8. White will be joined by a troupe of six former SNL cast members: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer and Rachel Dratch.
The Facebook campaign gathered momentum after Betty's very funny Super Bowl ad for Snickers in January. Diane Sawyer interviewed Betty about the phenomena in mid-February, when the page had more than 370,000 fans. She also talked with David Mathews, the page's creator. The page currently is pushing 500,000 fans.
Betty White has widespread fan support across several generations. I remember falling in love with her in the '70s from her appearances on Mary Tyler Moore (Sue Ann Nivens FTW!) and through her guest appearances on the Carol Burnett Show. In the '80s, she sailed on the Love Boat several times and guested on Mama's Family, but it was 180 episodes as innocent, Midwestern Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls that has brought her into the homes of millions year after year. More recently, a great stint as the hilariously murderous assistant Catherine Piper on Boston Legal shines, showing the command of quirky character development and mastery of television comedic timing that marks Betty White's work.
Though many of her characters have been on the dim end of the spectrum, Betty White is whip smart. She distinguished herself in her early career through radio and television talk show appearances, and on game shows like Password. Danielle Johnsen at The Spielster lists a number of reasons for her appeal, including how well she still performs on talk shows:
She has also provided a much needed laugh at the usually stale Comedy Central roasts; her chat with Chelsea Handler when she was promoting The Proposal last year is hysterical
Somewhere along the way, an appreciation for Betty's talent transmuted into bestowing her icon status. One reason for this is that in addition to being supported by many other fan groups, Betty is beloved in the gay community. Joe.My.God calls her a Gay Icon. Patrick at Homorazzi hopes that the returning cast members support Betty in an homage to her seminal work. "Can you imagine if they do a Golden Girls spoof? Oh. My. God."
Two years shy of 90, Betty's still got it. She recently received a boost from Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson. Daytime Confidental, which has big love for Betty's recurring role on The Bold and The Beautiful, reported that Pattison told the ladies on The View, "I think Betty White is probably one of the sexiest women in America." He continued, "She's vibrant; it's sexy. I think the more age the better.
Chris Olson from Momathonblog says, "If I'm even half this cool at 88, I'd be sooooo happy."
Fans got her the gig, but media will only listen to social media fan support if the proof is in the ratings pudding. SNL Producer Lorne Michaels announced that the May day is a Mother's Day hook, which is a little odd because Betty White isn't a mother, but he says "She's the mother of us all in comedy." May is also sweeps season for television ratings.
So the Internet won the battle of getting Betty on SNL, but will we win the war? Will crowds looking away from their laptops and toward their televisions to see Betty in action? Do you plan on watching the show?
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