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China’s Youku to Make Local Version of ‘Saturday Night Live’

Variety logo Variety 4/26/2017 Patrick Frater
© Provided by Variety

Chinese streaming giant Youku is to produce a localized version of “Saturday Night Live,” following an agreement with NBCUniversal. The show is expected to be one of the flagship programs for Youku’s fall-winter entertainment lineup.

The Youku show will be the 10th local iteration of the iconic “SNL,” after international versions in places such as France, the Middle East and Finland. On NBC in the U.S., the show has played for more than 40 years, with more than 800 episodes aired to date, and has re-entered the national conversation with Alec Baldwin’s lacerating impersonation of President Trump.

“Lorne Michaels has created a timeless format that taps into the prevailing cultural zeitgeist and instantaneously responds with whip-smart humor to national affairs and social trends,” said Michael Edelstein, President, NBCUniversal International Studios.

Comedy is a popular genre on Chinese television, but current affairs can be a sensitive area, and many producers tend to self-censor in order to avoid falling afoul of the government. The Chinese “SNL” is likely to tread carefully when it comes to politics.

Previously independent, Youku was last year acquired by e-commerce giant Alibaba and is now part of Alibaba Digital Media & Entertainment Group.

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