Al Franken, a Politically Incorrect Fixture, Plans New Sitcom

Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live writer and performer who has become the Clinton White House court jester, is a guest on Politically Incorrect . Again. “I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been on it,” Mr. Franken said. “I really like being on it because I think I’m pretty good at it and it’s fun and you get the questions in advance.” …

Mr. Franken has a sitcom in the can-six episodes of a show for NBC called Late Line . What The Larry Sanders Show is to the late-night talk shows, Late Line is to Nightline . “It’s an ensemble show produced by me and John Markus, producer of The Cosby Show for six years,” Mr. Franken said. “I ran into Mary Tyler Moore and she said, ‘What are you up to?’ and I said, ‘Another rip-off of your show.'” …

Mr. Franken and his team did two weeks of research at Nightline . “Koppel seemed very unimpressed with me and, I think, with show business in general,” Mr. Franken said, “but he was very accessible and perfectly willing to talk to us. We wanted to do a workplace comedy where people actually do jobs. We wanted to do a show where you see what people actually do all day.” So when’s it going on? “We were told originally that we would probably launch in March.” …

Mr. Franken wrote countless sketches for Saturday Night Live , and also the screenplays for When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) and Stuart Saves His Family (1995), but he said it didn’t prepare him for Late Line: “I learned an incredible amount from John Markus about creating something that can live and have a heartbeat and go beyond the story that you’ve told. With a movie, you don’t need the character to do another thing after it’s over.” …

What about Saturday Night Live ? “I think this cast is terrific. I don’t watch it every week, but there certainly is a place for the show. I think it should always be on. I like Anna [Gasteyer], I think she’s terrific. I think Will [Ferrell] is funny and Darrell [Hammond] does terrific impressions. I’d write some of the stuff different, there’s no doubt about that.” [WABC, 7, 12:06 A.M.]