Saturday Night Live fans on the West Coast were angered this weekend when they found that their favorite show was not living up to its name. Rather than a new episode hosted by Black Swan and Star Wars star Natalie Portman, viewers in the Pacific Time Zone were presented a rerun of a 2005 Saturday Night Live episode hosted by American football quarterback Peyton Manning, followed by the National Football League NFL Honors Awards.
Now in its 43rd season, the legendary sketch comedy series is broadcast live on Saturday nights from NBC's New York City studios in Rockefeller Plaza, four time-zones away from the American West Coast. It was not until April 2017 that NBC began broadcasting the show live on the West Coast, in lieu of NBC's usual Saturday evening programming, from 8:30 pm to 10:00 pm. This change was made due to the show's sudden rise in popularity following a more aggressive satirical streak aimed at President Donald Trump. Originally limited to the final episodes of the 2016-2017 season, the ratings were so good that NBC elected to continue the new coast-to-coast schedule into 2017-2018.
The Wrap first reported on the fan backlash against the scheduling mishap. Angry SNL fans took to Twitter and Facebook, lambasting the network for the snafu and their failure to announce the schedule change ahead of time, even as fans on the East Coast were posting about the latest sketch featuring actor Alec Baldwin impersonating Donald Trump.
Thankfully, the culprit seems to be bad timing rather than any sort of conspiracy by Marvel Comics and Disney to deny Natalie Portman (who famously left the Thor franchise in abrupt fashion) publicity. Reportedly the schedule change was required due to NBC's contract with the NFL, which stipulates that all NFL related programming on NBC must be broadcast during prime time hours. This required NBC to air the NFL Honors awards at the same adjusted time in all of their national markets, overriding the usual schedule for Saturday Night Live.
It was an unfortunate thing, because this weekend's Saturday Night Live episode was praised as one of the best in recent memory. In addition to the aforementioned Donald Trump sketch, the episode also featured a parody of Stranger Things with Natalie Portman in the role of Eleven. The show also had Portman delivering a hard-core rap, which ended with her throwing a reporter through a window after slapping a sticker for the #TIMESUP campaign on his forehead.
Source: The Wrap