Lennon was watching the television show NBC's Saturday Night, the late-night comedy show which in 1977 became Saturday Night Live. It was shown on this evening on NBC from 11.30pm-1am Eastern Time; Lennon had tuned in to see appearances by actor Raquel Welch and The Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian.
Co-creator and producer Lorne Michaels made occasional appearances on screen. During this particular episode he made a deliberately paltry on-air offer of $3,000 for The Beatles to reunite on the show.
Hi, I'm Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night. Right now, we're being seen by approximately 22 million viewers, but please allow me, if I may, to address myself to four very special people. John, Paul, George and Ringo: The Beatles.
Lately, there have been a lot of rumours to the effect that the four of you might be getting back together, that would be great. In my book, The Beatles are the best thing that ever happened to music. It goes deeper than that, you're not just a musical group, you're a part of us, we grew up with you.
It's for this reason that I'm inviting you to come on our show. Now, we've heard and read a lot about personality and legal conflicts that might prevent you guys from reuniting, that's none of my business. You guys will have to handle that. But it's also been said that no one has yet come up with enough money to satisfy you. Well, if it's money you want, there's no problem here. The National Broadcasting Company authorises me to authorise you a cheque for $3,000. Here can you get a close-up of this?
As you can see, verifiably, a cheque made out to you, The Beatles, for $3,000. All you have to do is sing three Beatle tunes. She Loves You, yeah, yeah, yeah - that's $1,000 right there. You know the words, and it'll be easy. Like I said, this cheque is made out to The Beatles. You divide it anyway you want: if you want to give Ringo less that's up to you. I'd rather not get involved.
I'm sincere about this. If it helps you to reach a decision to reunite well, it's a worthwhile investment. You have agents, you know where I can be reached. Just think about it, OK? Thank you.
NBC's Saturday Night
Michaels was unaware that Lennon and McCartney were both watching NBC that night, and considered making the journey to the Rockefeller Center studio to claim the money.
Paul and I were together watching that show. He was visiting us at our place in the Dakota. We were watching it and almost went down to the studio, just as a gag. We nearly got into a cab, but we were actually too tired...
He and Linda walked in and he and I were just sitting there watching the show, and we went, Ha-ha, wouldn't it be funny if we went down, but we didn't.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Paul and Linda left the Dakota as Lennon and Yoko Ono began watching the 1960 science-fiction film The Time Machine. The following day, 25 April 1976, was the final occasion on which Lennon and McCartney saw each other.
The near-reunion later became the basis for the 2000 television drama Two Of Us. It was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who had filmed The Beatles for Let It Be and promo clips for the singles Paperback Writer and Hey Jude, and starred Jared Harris as Lennon and Aidan Quinn as McCartney.