SNL Boss Lorne Michaels on the Big Names (Carell!) He Turned Away

Saturday Night Live Lorne Michaels Steve Carell

“No one gets it all right.”

As Saturday Night Live‘s 40th anniversary broadcast approaches, series svengali Lorne Michaels is revealing some of the famous names he rejected early in their careers.

Among those turned away from Studio 8H: The Office‘s Steve Carell and incoming Late Show host Stephen Colbert.

UPDATE: Per Carell’s Twitter feed Thursday, the comedian never auditioned for SNL.

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“There were lots of people who you’d see how brilliant they were, but you knew on some level that it wasn’t going to work,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Griffin, and Jim Carrey also are part of the Not Right for the Not Ready for Primetime Players club.

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Michaels also tells the site that he wasn’t at Carrey’s tryout, but went with someone’s advice that he wouldn’t like the comedian’s style.

“They were probably wrong, but it doesn’t matter,” he says. “Or maybe they were right — who knows?”

The long-running comedy series’ live anniversary special will air Sunday, Feb. 15, at 8/7c on NBC.

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17 Comments
  1. Tran says:

    My absolute favorite part about SNL: the female cast. Wish the show should booked Dwayne Johnson (last time he hosted back in March 2009), Kiefer Sutherland (hasn’t hosted since November 1991) and James Spader to host SNL in the near future.

    • Tran says:

      BTW, SNL should bring back Amy Poehler as host because she hasn’t been hosting since the Season 36 premiere. As for anniversary special, hope Abby Elliott makes an appearance even though I adore her so much during the four year run she had while joining the cast.

  2. leahbh says:

    In living color was probably a better place for Jim Carrey anyway. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where fire Marshall bill didn’t exist! :)

  3. Ron Roundy says:

    The fact that brilliant comedians weren’t hired by SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE tells me all I need to about SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Tina Fey is close to brilliant, but will she ever be allowed to surgically separate herself from Amy Poehler?

    • John says:

      Um… 30 Rock?

    • radmcawesome says:

      I think you need to reread the article. It basically says that Lorne Michaels respects his staff’s opinion to heed their advice from time to time.

      As for Tina Fey- who was personally hired to be a writer by Michaels at least 2 years before Amy Poehler was hired to be a performer, she’s done a lot of things without her. There’s Mean Girls, 30 Rock, being SNL’s head writer, her fantastic book- Bossypants, Kimmy Schmidt (which looks promising) and a couple other pilots.

      Yes, she’s good friends with Amy and they like to work together and have killed it hosting the Globes but your assertion that they could not be successful without each other is naive, misogynistic and clumsily dismissive of their separate talent and body of work.

      And yes, Poehler’s got an impressive resume of her own.

      • ron roundy says:

        It’s not misogynistic in any sense. I love Tina Fey. And I detest Amy Poehler. The difference is Tina Fey was never shoved down our throats.I’d be a fool to dismiss Fey’s talent, clumsily or otherwise. I’m equally sick of Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan as well. Please cut their cords in turn.

      • H says:

        Amy was in Mean Girls as Regina’s mother and guest starred 30 Rock.

    • Jesus Christ, TV Critic says:

      Tina Fey is close to brilliant? She is mediocre at best and the fact that she and Will Ferrell received Mark Twain prizes over Robin Williams shows you how shameless and dumbed down society has become. Lol.

  4. Yuck says:

    Who cares what this man thinks? How can a site that claims to be about tv news talk to him? He’s a racist and sexist irrelevant dinosaur that had to be shamed into diversifying his cast and acts like he’s living in an America that never existed – this county has always been diverse. Where are the numerous Asian, Latino, Black cast members whose careers he’s launched? Name more than 10. I’ll wait. For someone with a 30+ career that’s shameful. Sorry I followed the link to this site. Yuck.

    • Alex says:

      I don’t think Lorne is sexist at all. Comedy was traditionally a man’s job when he created the show and put several legendary comedians in the cast. Some of the great female comedy talent of the last 30+ years have had stage time in 8H.
      As far as racist goes, he did give Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock their big breaks. SNL is traditionally a north east Ivy League sensibility and that’s ok. When there was a comedy hole shows like In Living Color and Def Comedy Jam filled them. There’s a different kind of laughs there and Lorne can’t change his style or what he finds funny. That’s all subjective anyways.

      • Greg says:

        He had nothing to do with Eddie Murphy. Murphy was hired by the 1980-81 producer Jean Doumanian. Michaels left the show from 80-85.

    • Dude says:

      How can you call him sexist when most of the cast is women AND the biggest stars in the cast are women? Yeah the cast is pretty white, that doesn’t make him racist. It’s a little ignorant but there’s a difference between racist and unfair.

    • Anon says:

      what are the names of the Asian, Latino, Black cast members whose careers you’ve launched?

      If you can do it better, do it.
      Quit whining.

  5. John says:

    Jim Carrey hosted and killed. Better than almost any cast member they ever had…