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Al Franken

Al Franken (born May 21, 1951) is a well-known comedian, writer, and lecturer who is perhaps best known for his performances on the NBC-TV variety progam Saturday Night Live. He is also known as half of the comedy duo, “Franken and Davis.” Franken was born in New York City, grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, and graduated Harvard University in 1973. He is married to Franni Franken. The couple lives in New York City with their son and daughter. Al Franken is also a distant cousin of Bob Franken of CNN.

Table of contents
1 Career
2 Current Events
3 See also
4 Books
5 External link


Franken was one of the original writers on Saturday Night Live, and received three Emmy Awards and seven Emmy nominations for television writing and producing for his work there. He created characters such as self-help guru Stuart Smalley and schtick like the “Al Franken Decade.” Franken was associated with SNL for more than 15 years and in 2002 interviewed former Vice President Al Gore while in character as Smalley.

Franken's most notorious SNL sketch may have been “A Limo for the Lamo,” a commentary delivered by Franken near the end of the 197980 season. Franken mocked the controversial president of NBC, Fred Silverman, describing him as “a total unequivocal failure” and displayed a chart showing the poor ratings of NBC programs. According to some associates of the show, Silverman's anger over the sketch prompted him to abandon negotiations with the show's creator Lorne Michaels and seek a different producer for the SNL's sixth season.

Besides having written numerous books, Franken wrote the original screenplay for the movie, Stuart Saves His Family and co-wrote (with Tom Davis) the screenplay for The Coneheads.

Franken has often been the subject of controversy for writing satirical works that convey his liberal political views.

Current Events

The Ashcroft letter

In June 2003, Franken wrote a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft seeking Ashcroft's “personal story” for a book Franken claimed to be writing (to be called Savin' It) about abstinence-only sex education. Ashcroft is a social conservative who opposes premarital sex and who once ordered the covering of a bare-breasted statue at the Department of Justice. “Don't be afraid to share a moment when you were tempted to have sex, but were able to overcome your urges through willpower and strength of character,” wrote Franken. The fatuous wording of the letter made it clear that this was a practical joke, but Franken later expressed regret for using Harvard stationery (see external link below).

Lies and the Lying Liars Book, Lawsuit

In August 2003, Penguin Books published Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, subtitled A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Fox News sued, claiming that Franken violated its alleged trademark rights in the phrase “Fair and Balanced.” A Federal judge found the lawsuit to be “wholly without merit”; Fox then withdrew the suit. The lawsuit provided Franken's book with a great deal of media attention and probably enhanced its sales. “I'm licking my wounds,” Franken told talk-show host David Letterman before a cheering studio audience.

In an interview on the National Public Radio program Fresh Air on September 3, 2003, Al Franken noted that Fox's case against him was literally laughed out of court by almost everyone in the courtroom.

Political career

Franken had been a strong supporter of Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone, who was dealing with a difficult re-election campaign in 2002. Wellstone's chief rival, Republican Norm Coleman, had been running a very negative campaign which ran many attack ads against Wellstone. When the Senator died on October 25th, less than two weeks before the polls opened, a tumultuous election followed and Coleman won. Franken announced in November 2003 that he was considering moving back to Minnesota, the state in which he grew up, in order to run for Coleman's Senate seat, when Coleman runs for re-election in 2008.


On January 13, 2004, it was announced that Franken would enter the radio business. He signed on to become a talk show host for a fledgling liberal radio network being started by Progress Media.

See also


External link