(Recasts, adding ratings data for ‘Saturday Night Live’)
By Jill Serjeant
NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday doubled down on his scorn for satirical TV show “Saturday Night Live,” whose popularity has soared since Alec Baldwin began impersonating him in the final weeks leading up to the election.
Trump, a guest host on “Saturday Night Live” in November 2015 when he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, has vented his anger on Twitter in recent weeks, calling the NBC show “totally unwatchable” and a “hit-job.”
In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday, Trump was asked whether he had considered no longer watching it, given his complaints.
“I hosted ‘SNL’ when it was a good show, but it’s not a good show anymore,” Trump responded. “First of all, nothing to do with me, there’s nothing funny about it. The skits are terrible.”
The show’s audience has jumped 33 percent since Baldwin began impersonating Trump in October, according to NBC. The network said some 11.4 million people on average are watching the program this season, starting Oct. 1, making it the most-watched season since 1992.
Trump on Wednesday attempted to cast doubt on the future of “Saturday Night Live,” which has lampooned presidents and politicians from both parties since it first aired 41 years ago.
“Frankly, the way the show is going now, if you look at the kind of work they’re doing, who knows how long that show’s going to be on. It’s a terrible show,” Trump said.
The Republican businessman and former star of NBC’s reality TV show “The Apprentice” also said Baldwin’s depiction of him was “really mean-spirited and not very good.”
“I do like him and I like him as an actor, but I don’t think his imitation of me gets me at all,” Trump added.
Baldwin, who has portrayed Trump as unprepared for office or tweeting during security briefings, tweeted back to Trump last week, “Release your tax returns and I’ll stop. Ha.”
Trump broke with decades of tradition followed by both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates by refusing to release his tax returns.
Baldwin, 58, the former star of NBC’s comedy “30 Rock,” told celebrity magazine Hola! in an interview, that he was glad other people found his impressions funny after a divisive election.
“There are bad feelings on both sides, so to have the opportunity to give people a chance to talk and laugh about it is a good thing,” Baldwin told the U.S. edition of the magazine in an interview released on Tuesday. (Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)