Saturday, April 10, 2021

Godspeed Anne Beatts

Anne Beatts, who was a writer on Saturday Night Live in its earliest years and created the classic sitcom Square Pegs, died on April 7 2021 at age 74.

Anne Beatts was born on February 25 1947 in Buffalo, New York. She grew up in Somers, New York. She attended McGill University in Montreal. While there she worked on the campus newspaper, The McGill Daily. It was following her graduation from McGill University that she moved to New York City. She became the first woman to write for National Lampoon. While with National Lampoon she worked on the magazine's stage show National Lampoon Lemmings. She also co-wrote the American version of the French/Belgian adult animated film Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle with Michael O'Donoghue.

It was in 1975 that Anne Beatts signed with NBC's new series Saturday Night Live, making her among the earliest writers on the show. Ms. Beatts wrote many of the television commercial parodies for the shows and created the recurring "Nerds" sketches.  It was not unusual for Anne Beatts to appear in front of the camera as well on Saturday Night Live, often in small, uncredited parts in sketches. She remained with Saturday Night Live from 1975 to 1980. She also wrote material for the comedy documentary Gilda Live (1980).

Following Saturday Night Live, Anne Beatts created the classic sitcom, Square Pegs, which ran on CBS from 1982 to 1983. The series proved to be a hit with critics and, while it was routinely bested in the ratings by That's Incredible on ABC, proved popular with the key demographic (18 to 54 year olds). CBS only cancelled the series because of rampant drug use on the set. In addition to serving as the show's executive producer and a writer, Anne Beatts appeared in two episodes of the show as Miss Rezucha. Following Square Pegs, in the Eighties Anne Beatts wrote an episode of Faerie Tale Theatre. She served as a producer on the sitcom A Different World. She wrote the book for the jukebox musical Leader of the Pack.

In the Nineties Anne Beatts served as a writer and executive producer on The Stephanie Miller Show. She served as a writer and an executive producer on the show The Belles of Bleaker Street. She wrote episodes of Murphy Brown, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child, and Hollywood Off-Ramp. In the Naughts she wrote episodes of Committed. She served an executive producer on Dr. Lupe's Love Picante. Most recently she was working with Judy Belushi-Pisano and Dan Aykroyd on an animated Blues Brothers series.

Anne Beatts also co-wrote the book Titters: The First Collection of Humor by Women with  Deanne Stillman and the books Titters 101 and The Mom Book with Deanne Stillman and Judith Jacklin Belushi.

Anne Beatts was a brilliant writer. Her commercial parodies on Saturday Night Live were often the funniest parts of the show. Square Pegs remains one of the best, most realistic sitcoms about high school life to ever air. She was gifted with a dark sense of humour, characterized by a sharp wit and and a talent for satire. Her comedy was often characterized by small details that might be overlooked by other writers. If Square Pegs remains better known than many high school sitcoms that lasted longer, if it perhaps because Anne Beatts included various details that other shows have missed. As part of both National Lampoon and SNL when it was at its best, as well as the creator of Square Pegs, Anne Beatts was one of the best comedic writers of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.

No comments: