Too Soon?

03.07.13

Sears Targets 'SNL' Over Jesus Sketch, Justin Timberlake To Host

Sears has pulled online ads for Saturday Night Live amid controversy over Jesus parody “Djesus Uncrossed.” Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake will return host SNL this weekend.

Hosting the Feb. 16 episode of the sketch comedy TV show Saturday Night Live may have helped Christoph Waltz win an Oscar, but now the program has come under fire from a conservative Christian watchdog group for one of the sketches featuring the Austrian actor.

The SNL sketch “Djesus Uncrossed,” a funny bit reimagining Jesus as a shotgun-wielding, revenge-seeking bounty hunter, a la Waltz’s slave-owner-slaying assassin in Django Unchained, became a viral hit. The retail chain Sears, however, was none too impressed and decided to pull their online ads running in conjunction with the show.

Video screenshot

“We received customer feedback about our ads running on NBC.com and Hulu in a rotation with other advertisers around the online rebroadcast of that particular SNL episode,” Sears told The Hollywood Reporter. “We informed customers that it wasn’t supposed to happen, and while going forward we may advertise on the broadcast, we’ve taken steps to ensure that our commercials do not air online exactly as they did in this situation.”

The joke was apparently too soon for the American Family Association, a non-profit advocacy group promoting conservative Christian values, which has taken credit for alerting the retailer of the parody.

“NBC would never do this to any other religious group, but it’s popular in Hollywood circles to go after ‘crazy’ Christians,” Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Association, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column.

The AFA was founded in 1977 by Donald Wildmon as the National Federation For Decency, and operates 200 radio stations in 33 states. They oppose pornography, abortion, and same-sex marriage, and have attempted to boycott various companies that support LGBT rights, including same-sex employee benefits. Last year, they led a failed boycott against Archie Comics because the comic book featured a same-sex marriage, and they also considered boycotting Google due to the company’s “Legalize Love” campaign supporting LGBT rights.

In addition to Sears, the AFA claimed that JC Penney decided to pull ads as well on SNL, but the claim seems rather dubious, considering a spokesman for the retail chain told The New York Times that they don’t advertise on the program to begin with. You can read the AFA’s (outrageous) petition against the SNL sketch here.

Meanwhile, SNL can expect a bump this weekend when one of the program’s best hosts, singer-actor Justin Timberlake, will return to host the show for the fifth time—and his third doing double-duty as both host and musical guest. The “Suit & Tie” crooner has already won two Emmy Awards for his hosting duties on the show (in 2009 and 2011), and you can watch the promo for his upcoming gig below:

Plus, SNL also recently announced that Identity Thief box office titan Melissa McCarthy will return to host the program for the second time on April 6. Perhaps she’ll bring along her Bridesmaids co-star—and SNL alum—Kristen Wiig.