Jenna Ortega’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ Debut Proves They Better Pay the Post-Production Crew
The best sketch on Jenna Ortega’s Saturday Night Live debut just proves what should have been apparent all along: Lorne Michaels and NBCUniversal better find a way to pay the SNL post-production crew.
The sketch’s premise, like all the best premises, is simple. Ortega is getting burned out by her many responsibilities. Martin, Ben and John are sympathetic but distracted — they’re assembling playlists and Slurpee supplies for an epic cross-country American road trip. Ortega is intrigued. Can she come along? Hell yeah, let’s do this!
What follows is an impressively authentic car jaunt down sun-soaked highways, set to a Beach-Boys-meets-campfire-singalong bop. You can probably already guess that chaos ensues, escalating from mixed exits and annoying Slurpee slurps to Billboard Jesus damning John to hell for his road sins.
And it’s just the kind of sketch that will be impossible to pull off by the next live show on April 1st, hosted by Quinta Brunson — if there’s a show at all. The 12 to 20 members of SNL’s video editing crew are planning a strike unless SNL meets demands that don’t seem that unreasonable — pay comparable to their peers and reasonable health benefits. According to the Motion Picture Editors Guild, the SNL editorial team is “paid far below industry standards.” Assistant editors get the worst of it, receiving “just a fraction” of the pay of similar union workers.
Ironically, the incredible work that goes into the pre-produced sketches has been the focus of a behind-the-scenes series of videos sponsored by T-Mobile all season long. Fan favorites like “Megan 2.0” and “HBO Mario Kart Trailer” don’t exist without the work of the post-production editors.
SNL’s profits might not be what they used to be, but that’s no excuse for not compensating the people behind such an important element of the production. If T-Mobile is sponsoring videos that show how the cake is made, maybe some of that cash can be used to pay the chefs. Cast members are behind their production team, with folks like James Austin Johnson sporting Contract Now T-shirts around the 30 Rock set.
It’s a bad look, NBCUniversal. Viewers want more “Road Trips,” and you’re going to have to pay the toll.