07/04/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT
Few would dispute the fact that there is no TV breeding ground for movie stars more fertile than Saturday Night Live. Since the show debuted on Oct. 11, 1975, Hollywood has been raiding the Not Ready for Prime Time Players. Chevy Chase defected after the first season. Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin and Bill Murray soon followed. Then Hollywood hit on their flashiest replacements: Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Joe Piscopo, Jim Belushi, Martin Short, Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz. Most SNL vets find gold in them Hollywood hills. Aykroyd and Murray's Ghostbusters and Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop pictures are among the Top 20 all-time grossers. But have you noticed anything missing? Like originality, spontaneity, edge, relevance, pointed irreverence, wit? Late-night, low-budget TV inspires risk; big-budget movies do not. Play it safe or kill the golden goose. Disturbing Fact No. 1: SNL's comedy outlaws have been selling us pap on the big screen. Disturbing Fact No. 2: We're buying it. Has Hollywood defanged SNL humor for good? Toothless new movies from Chase and Aykroyd would make it seem so, but Murphy has a summer surprise that suggests a cry of rebellion is in the air.