NBC Pulls SNL Short About Iran

Saturday Night Live online video star Andy Samberg had one of his famous digital shorts run during the show’s season opener this weekend, a ditty referencing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to New York in which the leader made a public remark attesting to the lack of homosexuals in his country. The video was available on NBC’s (GE) official YouTube channel at about 9 a.m. PT this morning but has since disappeared, replaced by the line: “This video has been removed by the user.”

Update: Apparently NBC pulled the clip because it did not clear a musical sample — see below for more details.

Samberg & Co. took the Ahmadinejad remark and ran with it, producing a song featuring Adam Levine of pop group Maroon 5, SNL cast member Fred Armisen (who plays Ahmadinejad, lounging on Samberg’s piano), a cameo by the bearded actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and the chorus “And I raaaaan, I ran so far away. Because you’re home, in my heart you’ll stay.” Embedded is an unauthorized version that’s still live.

The video was approved by NBC to air on national television, but now the network has pulled the clip off its official channel on YouTube. Interestingly, the Internet was where Samberg’s huge hit, the “Dick in a Box” collaboration with Justin Timberlake, was allowed to play uncensored, as opposed to the bleeped-out version that ran on TV.

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Perhaps NBC is trying to move traffic to its own site, taking a cue from MTV, which saw record traffic after it kept Britney Spears’ lackluster performance at the Video Music Awards exclusive to its site? Nope, the video has been pulled from NBC.com as well. A commenter on NBC.com wonders if the network took the clip down in order to repost a version with better audio (it’s true, the lyrics were hard to hear). Let’s hope that’s it.

Update: Apparently NBC pulled the clip because it did not clear a music sample from the group Aphex Twin.

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