On Eve of SNL 40th Anniversary Special, Lorne Michaels Regrets the Ones He Rejected

Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Lisa Kudrow and Jim Carrey all failed their SNL auditions.

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Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Lisa Kudrow and Jim Carrey all failed their SNL auditions.

Famed television producer Lorne Michaels lists both Steven Carrel and Stephen Colbert among the people he regrets most not having cast on the show saying, “Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell auditioned. 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. Lisa Kudrow gave a brilliant audition, but it was at the time when it was Jan Hooks and Nora [Dunn]. I wasn’t at the Jim Carrey audition, but somebody who was there said, ‘I don’t think Lorne would like it, ‘ and they were probably wrong, but it doesn’t matter. Or maybe they were right — who knows? No one gets it all right.”

Michaels is preparing for the 40th anniversary special for his Saturday Night Live. Michaels, the show’s creator, has produced it for 35 of its 40 years on the air.

How unbelievably talented is Lorne Michaels, born Lorne Lipowitz in Toronto. He not only created but preserved America’s most iconic television show – having first revived the live comedy variety program – but he has also discovered some of the greatest comedic talents of the last 40 years.

In addition to Saturday Night Live, Michaels is now responsible for the NBC network’s two late night talk shows, The Tonight Show and Late Night.

Michaels explained to the Hollywood Reporter that one of the worst attempts to change the show by NBC came when Warren Littlefield wanted to dump the music segments.

He said, “There was a period under Warren Littlefield that they did a lot of testing and found that music didn’t test as well as comedy. I’d say music was for pace, and it gave us a level of coolness and relevance. So, first it was, “Could you get rid of it?” When we disagreed, it was, “Could you move it later in the show?” There was a two- or three-show period where they prevailed and it had to come after “[Weekend] Update, ” which threw off the rhythm of the show. When things are going really, really well in Burbank, they tend to have more confidence in terms of making suggestions. They’re on a streak, so they want to fix us.”

But not all of the best SNL alums came from the Lorne Michaels years. Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis Dreyfus were both on the show’s Dick Ebersol years in the early 1980s.

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