NEW YORK, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels assembled a pantheon of comic titans for a television special marking the sketch comedy show's 40th anniversary Sunday evening.
Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake kicked off the 3 1/2-hour program with a song that referenced iconic scenes and catchphrases from the series' past four decades. The rest of the night was a mix of live sketches, favorite clips from the past, recreations of famous skits and video montages. There were also musical performances by Miley Cyrus, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, and Kanye West with Sia and Vic Mensa.
The "In Memoriam" segment recognized late luminaries such as John Belushi, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks and Gilda Radner, while Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg offered a lighter tribute to cast members -- particularly Fallon and Horatio Sanz -- who frequently had trouble keeping a straight face in front of a live audience. Another segment revealed footage of various cast members' auditions for the show, while a separate package collected some of the best political bits to appear on SNL.
A star-studded soap-opera spoof featured former cast members Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, as well as guests Taylor Swift and Kerry Washington. Bradley Cooper and Betty White stole the scene, though, when they locked lips in a steamy embrace.
"Saturday Night Live turned 40 years old this week with a live, 3 1/2-hour broadcast that won an Emmy in the first 10 minutes and then lost it somewhere in the middle," Amy Poehler declared in a "Weekend Update" segment that had her delivering the fake news alongside Tina Fey and Jane Curtin.
Several well-known actors then arrived at the "Weeked Update" desk dressed as their favorite SNL characters. Emma Stone perfectly channeled Radner's Roseanne Roseannadanna, while Edward Norton perfectly portrayed Hader's Stefan and Melissa McCarthy brought the funny as the late Chris Farley's Matt Foley.
The sketch ended when McCarthy's Foley bellyflops on the news desk, crushing it to pieces, and Fey opens the newsroom door only to be eaten by a land shark. This was followed up with a montage of memorable moments from the SNL newsroom, then banter from some of the men who worked the "Weekend Update" desk, including Kevin Nealon, Colin Quinn, Norm MacDonald, Seth Meyers and Chevy Chase.
The show also featured a new round of Celebrity Jeopardy with Will Ferrell reprising his role of game-show host Alex Trebek, MacDonald as Burt Reynolds, Kate McKinnon as Justin Bieber, Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin as Tony Bennett, Taran Killam as Christoph Waltz and Jim Carrey as Matthew McConaughey.
Jerry Seinfeld took the stage and fielded questions from the celebrities in the audience, including Sarah Palin, Larry David, James Franco, Michael Douglas, Ellen Cleghorne, Tim Meadows and Bob Odenkirk.
Maya Rudolph gave a spot-on Beyonce impression, introducing a string of live performances including Steve Martin's "King Tut," Bill Murray's love theme from Jaws, Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York," and Dana Carvey's ballad "Choppin' Broccoli."
Not surprisingly, Sandler's Opera Man wrote a song especially for the occasion.
"Reunion! Reunion! Reunion! 40th anniversary, such a special day-oh. Garrett Morris looks fantastico, David Spade looks okay-oh," he belted out. "Lorne has gathered us together and no one's getting paid-oh, but Betty White's here, so at least we're all getting laid-oh."