Betty White still hasn’t begun the grueling process of preparing for her stint on “Saturday Night Live,” and she almost said no to the offer.
“At first I thought they were putting me on,” she tells Zap2it on a press call April 28. “I told my agent to say ‘Thank you, I appreciate it, but no thank you.’ And he said, ‘If you don’t do it, I’ll divorce you.’ And I love my agent, so here I am, doing it.”
For a woman who seems fearless, her trepidation about “Saturday Night Live” — she’s hosting the May 8 episode — is surprising. “It’s such a New York-focused show. And I am so, you know, Californian and stuff. I’m afraid I’ll feel like a fish out of water,” she says.
As for the content of the episode, she has a few conditions. “I won’t do any dope jokes. I don’t like dope jokes. I don’t think dope is a joke. And so that’s about the only thing that I would let’s say resist doing,” she says firmly. “I have veto power if it’s something I really don’t want to do. And they promised me I wouldn’t have to do any nudity.”
Otherwise, White is open to anything — even resurrecting her “Mary Tyler Moore Show” character. “The Sue Ann Nivens thing? I think they would have to clear that with … writers and producers and all that. I’ll go with almost anything that they want to try. And of course I loved Sue Ann. She was so rotten, the neighborhood nymphomaniac. And I’d love to bring her back for a minute. But I don’t know whether that would be legally possible.”
Many young actors have complained about the long hours and late nights involved in rehearsing for “SNL,” but White, age 88, shrugged off any suggestion that it might take a toll. “Oh, I’m a stay up late, get up early girl,” she says. “If I get four, five good hours a night I — that’s all the sleep I need. And I’m blessed with good energy thanks to being blessed with good health. The physical part of ‘Saturday Night’ doesn’t worry me at all. It’s just the hoping I can do justice to the — all those other great people who have been on there.”