March 4, 2012

THE SKED: Lindsay Lohan on SNL

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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We’re not on the tabloid beat at SHOWBUZZDAILY, but when Lindsay Lohan put herself in front of the cameras tonight on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, she made herself fair game.  It would be heartwarming to be able to report that with tonight’s appearance, she’s finally taken the first real step of her professional rehabilitation, but sadly that wasn’t the case.

It’s impossible not to notice that Lohan only vaguely resembles the young woman from just a few years ago, both in terms of her affect and her very appearance.  Either her hair or wig is bleached blonde, and whether her current face is the result of chemical or surgical changes (to untutored eyes, her cheeks certainly appear to be augmented), or just the aftereffect of some very hard years, she’s currently unable to move her features in a natural way, and thus appears disturbingly frozen.  This is a problem for someone who needs to be able to express emotions nonverbally as part of her everyday work.
It was obvious that Lorne Michaels (who’s known Lohan since he produced Mean Girls) and the SNL writing staff went out of their way all evening to take it as easy on Lohan as they possibly could.  She never took the lead in any sketch, usually delivering just a few lines in bits featuring others.  So she was an ensemble member on “Real Housewives of Disney,” one of the background dancers in a sketch with Fred Armisen in drag, a sidekick in a radio DJ bit, the house-sitter watching Kristen Wiig as her employer go crazy, and so on.  In this week’s installment of “Scared Straight,” she played herself, but Kenan Thompson as her co-convict had the bulk of the lines.  Even her monologue was dominated by the other cast members, while she played straight woman.  Lohan only took part in one of the pretaped segments, not appearing at all in the SNL Digital Short.
Even so, it was clear she was having problems keeping up.  Lohan’s eyes were glued to the cue-cards (which didn’t keep her from blowing her lines), and you could see her at times looking to someone off-camera, seemingly giving her stage directions.  All of this combined for a performance that wasn’t very funny.  (Jon Hamm got more laughs from his 30 seconds of cameo appearances than Lohan did for the whole show.)
It didn’t help, to be sure, that this was one of the most woeful SNLs of the season.  Usually election years are great for the series, but SNL seems to be about as excited by Mitt Romney as most Republicans are, and the political sketches have been dragging SNL down all year.  Other skits featured the umpteenth return of “James Carville” and “Snooki,” as well as a “Psychic Awards” sketch where–well, you’ve already guessed the joke.  Apart from a general lack of wit, things seemed to be going less than smoothly backstage:  the show, which usually only reruns taped bits when absolutely necessary, needed to do it twice tonight, and another segment that was clearly intended as a Jason Sudeikis “runner” (a recurring bit that airs intermittently throughout the episode) ended up with both its segments airing back-to-back.  . 
A mediocre or worse SNL is hardly news, though.  This was meant to be the night when Lindsay Lohan started to claw her way back up from the pit in which she’s dug herself, but while it’s good news that she got through the evening without any notable disaster, she’s still got a long, long way to shovel.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."