Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels, CC (born Lorne David Lipowitz; November 17, 1944), is a Canadian-American television producer, writer, actor and comedian best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live and producing the Late Night series (since 1993), The Kids in the Hall (from 1989 to 1995) and The Tonight Show (since 2014).[1][2][3][4]

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels holding a Peabody Award at the 2013 Peabody Award Ceremony
Michaels at the 72nd Annual Peabody Award Ceremony, 2013
Lorne David Lipowitz

November 17, 1944 (age 74)
  • Canadian
  • American
  • American
  • Canadian
  • Israeli
  • Film and TV producer
  • Screenwriter
  • Actor
  • Comedian
Years active1968–present
Known forSaturday Night Live (creator, producer)
Late Night (producer)
Home townToronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Rosie Shuster
    (m. 1971; div. 1980)
  • Susan Forristal
    (m. 1981; div. 1987)
  • Alice Barry (m. 1991)

Early life

Place of birth

Lorne Michaels was born on November 17, 1944, to Florence (née Becker) and Henry Abraham Lipowitz. His place of birth is disputed; multiple sources have said he was born in Toronto, Ontario in Canada[5][6] while others state he was born on a kibbutz in British-mandate Palestine (now Israel)[7][8][9][10][11] and that his Jewish family emigrated to Toronto when he was an infant.[12]

Personal life

Michaels and his two younger siblings were raised in Toronto; he attended Forest Hill Collegiate Institute. He graduated from University College, Toronto, where he majored in English, in 1966.[13][14] Michaels became a US citizen in 1987[15] and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2002.[16]

Michaels has three children and has been married three times.[15] During the early 1960s, he began a relationship with Rosie Shuster, daughter of Frank Shuster of the Wayne and Shuster comedy team, who later worked with him on Saturday Night Live as a writer.[17] Michaels and Shuster were married in 1971 and divorced in 1980.[18] He married model Susan Forristal in 1981, which ended in divorce in 1987. Michaels married his current wife and former assistant, Alice Barry, in 1991.[15]

Michaels is Jewish.[12]


Early career

Michaels began his career as a writer and broadcaster for CBC Radio.[19] He moved to Los Angeles from Toronto in 1968 to work as a writer for Laugh-In and The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show. He starred with Hart Pomerantz in The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour, a Canadian comedy series which ran briefly in the early 1970s.[17]

Saturday Night Live

Lorne Michaels at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival
Michaels at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.

In 1975 Michaels created (with fellow NBC employee Dick Ebersol and president of the network Herb Schlosser) the TV show NBC's Saturday Night, which in 1977 changed its name to Saturday Night Live (initially there was a name conflict with an ABC show titled Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell which debuted September 20, 1975 and was cancelled on November 26, 1975). The show, which is performed live in front of a studio audience, immediately established a reputation for being cutting-edge and unpredictable. It became a vehicle for launching the careers of some of the most successful comedians in the United States.

Originally the producer of the show, Michaels was also a writer and later became executive producer. He occasionally appears on-screen as well, where he is known for his deadpan humor. Throughout the show's history, SNL has been nominated for more than 156 Emmy Awards and has won 36. It has consistently been one of the highest-rated late-night television programs. Michaels has been with SNL for all seasons except for his hiatus in the early 1980s (seasons 6–10).

His daughter, Sophie, has appeared in episodes, one of which was during the show's 30th season hosted by Johnny Knoxville during the monologue when Lorne introduces Johnny Knoxville to his daughter and Sophie shocks Knoxville with a taser. She also appeared in a sketch about underage drinking when Zac Efron hosted the show.

Perhaps Michaels's best-known appearance occurred in the first season when he offered the Beatles $3,000 (a deliberately paltry sum) to reunite on the show.[20] He later upped his offer to $3,200, but the money was never claimed. According to an interview in Playboy magazine, John Lennon and Paul McCartney happened to be in New York City that night and wanted to see the show. They very nearly went, but changed their minds as it was getting too late to get to the show on time, and they were both tired. This near-reunion was the basis for the TV movie Two of Us. On the November 20, 1976 show, musical guest George Harrison appeared, but Michaels told him the offer was conditioned on all four members of the group showing up, not just any Beatle. Harrison tells Michaels his refusal to pay him his share is "chintzy," and Michaels counters by saying, "The Beatles don't have to split the money equally. They can give, say, Ringo less if they want."

Other work

Michaels started Broadway Video in 1979, producing such shows as The Kids in the Hall. Shortly afterwards, citing burnout, he left Saturday Night Live. He returned to the show in 1985.

During his SNL hiatus, Michaels created another sketch show titled The New Show, which debuted on Friday nights in prime time on NBC in January 1984. The show failed to garner the same enthusiasm as SNL and lasted only 9 episodes before being cancelled.

In the 1980s, Michaels appeared in an HBO mockumentary titled The Canadian Conspiracy about the supposed subversion of the United States by Canadian-born media personalities, with Lorne Greene as the leader of the conspiracy. Michaels was identified as the anointed successor to Greene.

Michaels is also the executive producer of NBC show Late Night, and was the executive producer of 30 Rock and Up All Night during their runs.

On April 3, 2013, it was announced that Michaels would be taking over as the executive producer for The Tonight Show. Consequently, The Tonight Show moved to New York in early 2014 as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.


Lorne Michaels star on Walk of Fame
Michaels' star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

In 1999, Michaels was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame[21] and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[18]

In 2002, Michaels was made a member of the Order of Canada for lifetime achievement.[16]

In 2003, he received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.[22]

In 2004, he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Speaking at the awards ceremony, original Saturday Night Live cast member Dan Aykroyd described the show as "the primary satirical voice of the country".[23]

Michaels received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2006, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.[19]

In 2008, Michaels was awarded the Webby for Film & Video Lifetime Achievement. With the allotted 5-words allowed to each recipient, his five-word acceptance speech was "Five words is not enough".[24]

In 2012, Lorne Michaels was awarded a rare Personal Peabody Award. He accepted at a ceremony in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.[25]

On November 22, 2016, Michaels was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.[26]

In popular culture

In a 2008 interview with Playboy, as well in various other interviews, Tina Fey admitted that Alec Baldwin's character Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock is inspired by Michaels. In a different interview, on NPR's radio show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, Baldwin stated that some of his inspiration for Donaghy was drawn from Michaels.[27]

The character Dr. Evil, the antagonist of Austin Powers in three films, has mannerisms and a speaking style based on Lorne Michaels. Dr. Evil was created and portrayed by SNL alumnus Mike Myers, who was at least partially influenced by fellow SNL performer Dana Carvey's impression of Michaels.[28]

In the Kids In the Hall movie Brain Candy, the character of Don Roritor was based heavily on actor Mark McKinney's impersonation of Lorne Michaels.[29]


Selected television credits


  1. ^ "Lorne Michaels: Biography". Brittanica.com. August 26, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  2. ^ Robinson, Joanna (January 26, 2015). "Lorne Michaels: Biography Book Saturday Night Live". VanityFair.com. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  3. ^ "Lorne Michaels: Official SNL Bio". NBC.com. January 1, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  4. ^ Kennedy, John R. (April 16, 2016). "Toronto-born SNL Creator Lorne Michaels on Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People List". Global News. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  5. ^ Swaine, Jon (17 February 2014). "Lorne Michaels: the inscrutable kingmaker of comedy". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Lorne Michaels | Biography, Saturday Night Live, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  7. ^ Swaine, Jon (February 17, 2014). "Lorne Michaels: the inscrutable kingmaker of comedy". The Guardian. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  8. ^ Kaplan, Don (May 12, 2013). "Lorne Michaels, the Kingmaker of Comedy". NY Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  9. ^ "Lorne Michaels". Biography.com. A&E Television Networks. November 21, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  10. ^ Simon, Paul. "Paul Simon on Friend and S.N.L. Creator Lorne Michaels". Vanityfair.com. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  11. ^ "Gal Gadot hosts Saturday Night Live, sends a message in Hebrew to her Israeli fans - OMG - Jerusalem Post". Jpost.com. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Jews in the News: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Neil Simon and Lorne Michaels". Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation. February 11, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  13. ^ Robinson, Joanna (February 26, 2016). "New Lorne Michaels Biography Will Look at How Political Correctness Has Changed Saturday Night Live". Vanity Fair. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  14. ^ Shriver, Ryan (March 20, 2008). "Lorne Michaels". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 21, 2008.
  15. ^ a b c Ginsberg, Gabriella (February 18, 2015). "Lorne Michaels". Hollywood Life. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, Information and Media Services (April 30, 2009). "Honours: Order of Canada - Lorne Michaels, C.M., LL.D." Governor General of Canada Archives. Government of Canada. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  17. ^ a b Smith, Chris (March 13, 1995). "Comedy Isn't Funny". New York Magazine. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Staff (February 6, 2015). "Biography and Filmography: Rosie Shuster". Hollywood.com. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  19. ^ a b "Award Recipients: Lorne Michaels 2006 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Broadcasting)". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  20. ^ "SNL Transcripts: Beatles Offer, April 24, 1976". Snltranscripts.jt.org. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  21. ^ "Lorne Michaels: Latest News & Photos". NY Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  22. ^ "Lorne Michaels: 2003 Inductee". Canada's Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008.
  23. ^ Associated Press (October 25, 2004). "'SNL' creator Michaels honored". Today.com. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  24. ^ "2008 Webby Award Winner: Lorne Michaels". The Webby Awards. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  25. ^ "Personal Award: Lorne Michaels". Peabody Awards. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  26. ^ Harris, Gardiner (November 22, 2016). "Obama Awards His Last Presidential Medals of Freedom". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  27. ^ Unscripted with Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey on YouTube – 1:56–2:38. Retrieved September 5, 2010
  28. ^ "'Wayne's World': How Mike Myers and Dana Carvey Resolved Their Feud". The Hollywood Reporter.
  29. ^ Higgins, Chris. "25 Things You Might Not Know About 'Brain Candy'". Mental Floss. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  30. ^ Gates, Anita (October 8, 1999). "Superstar (1999) FILM REVIEW; The Things She'll Do For Fame and a Date". The New York Times.
  31. ^ "The Maya Rudolph Show". NBC.
  32. ^ "FXX Takes Out Personal Ad for "Man Seeking Woman"". The Futon Critic. July 2, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2014.

External links

Baby Mama (film)

Baby Mama is a 2008 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Michael McCullers in his directorial debut and starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, and Sigourney Weaver.

Broadway Video

Broadway Video is an American multimedia entertainment studio founded by Lorne Michaels, creator of the sketch comedy TV series Saturday Night Live and producer of other television programs and movies.

Coneheads (film)

Coneheads is a 1993 American science fiction comedy film from Paramount Pictures, produced by Lorne Michaels, directed by Steve Barron, and starring Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin and Michelle Burke. The film is based on the NBC Saturday Night Live comedy sketches about aliens stranded on Earth, who have Anglicized their Remulakian surname to "Conehead". Michelle Burke took over the role played by Laraine Newman on SNL. The film also features roles and cameos by actors and comedians from other contemporary television series of the time.

Gilda Live

Gilda Live is a 1980 American comedy documentary film starring Gilda Radner, directed by Mike Nichols and produced by Lorne Michaels. Radner and Michaels and all of the writers involved with the production were alumni from the television program Saturday Night Live.

Hot Rod (film)

Hot Rod is a 2007 American comedy film co-written, directed by, and starring members of The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer). The film stars Samberg as amateur stuntman Rod Kimble, whose step-father, Frank (Ian McShane) continuously mocks and disrespects him. When Frank becomes ill, Rod raises money for his heart operation by executing his largest stunt yet. In addition to raising money for the operation, he also does so to win Frank's respect, by kicking his butt. The film also stars Taccone, Sissy Spacek, Will Arnett, Danny McBride, Isla Fisher and Bill Hader. It was directed by Schaffer (in his directorial debut) and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

The film was originally drafted by Pam Brady (who retains full writing credit) as a vehicle for Saturday Night Live star Will Ferrell, but the project never commenced. Lorne Michaels convinced Paramount to let The Lonely Island, who were growing famous for their work on SNL, take over the film. The group subsequently re-wrote the film with a heavy emphasis on offbeat surreal humor. The film was shot in Vancouver over the summer of 2006. The film's soundtrack was composed by ex-Yes guitarist, Trevor Rabin, and the film features several songs by the Swedish rock band Europe.

Hot Rod opened on August 3, 2007 and was a box office failure, grossing only $14 million of its $25 million budget. As the film's producers predicted, it received mixed reviews, with critics criticizing the film's script and humor. It has become a popular cult film on home media.

Lassie (1994 film)

Lassie is a 1994 American adventure family film directed by Daniel Petrie and featuring the fictional collie Lassie.

List of Saturday Night Live writers

The following is a list of Saturday Night Live writers. The show, created by Lorne Michaels is an American live sketch comedy and variety show. The show, which has aired since 1975, has employed a large and changing staff of writers.

List of awards and nominations received by Saturday Night Live

This is a list of notable awards Saturday Night Live has won. One of the longest running series on U.S. television at 43 seasons as of 2017, since its debut, the show has won and been nominated for numerous awards, both creative and technical. The show has won 65 Primetime Emmy Awards, 3 Peabody Awards, and 3 Writers Guild of America Awards. Lorne Michaels, co-creator and executive producer, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work on the series.

Nothing Lasts Forever (film)

Nothing Lasts Forever is a science-fiction comedy film directed by Tom Schiller. Shortly before its intended release date of September 1984, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer postponed it. The film has never been officially released theatrically or for home media in the United States. The film was uploaded by a fan onto the Internet video website YouTube, but was taken down at the insistence of Turner Entertainment, the current copyright owner.

It was eventually broadcast on Warner's cable TV network Turner Classic Movies.It stars Zach Galligan and Lauren Tom in the lead roles, with a supporting cast including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sam Jaffe and Mort Sahl. John Belushi was to appear in the film, but he died six weeks before production began.The making of the film, through interviews with Tom Schiller, Lorne Michaels, Zach Galligan, Lauren Tom, Bill Murray and others involved with the film, is chronicled in the book Nothing Lost Forever: The Films of Tom Schiller by Michael Streeter (BearManor Media, 2005).

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Series

The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Series was a category in the Primetime Emmy Awards. It was awarded annually to the best variety show or similarly formatted program of the year. The award was sometimes known by other names, such as “Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Program” and “Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series.”

From 1979 to 1989 and in 1991, variety series and specials competed together. Single programs dominated as winners during this time until the Outstanding Variety Special category was formed. Since 1994, all of the winners in this category have been late-night talk shows.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won the award for ten years consecutively (2003–2012), the longest winning streak for a television show in Primetime Emmy Award history. In 2015, this category was separated into two categories – Outstanding Variety Sketch Series and Outstanding Variety Talk Series.

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series is an award presented to the best sketch comedy-driven variety show of the year.

In 2015, Outstanding Variety Series was separated into two categories – Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.

SNL Studios

SNL Studios is a production company, founded in July 1997 as a joint venture between Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels and NBC Studios (now Universal Television, the production arm of NBCUniversal a subsidiary of Comcast). While this venture also initially included Paramount Pictures, it was dissolved following NBC's merger with Universal Studios. On the television side, SNL Studios produces Saturday Night Live in association with Broadway Video. Film productions, typically offshoots of Saturday Night Live' sketches, include, among others, A Night at the Roxbury and Superstar.

Following the announcement of the creation of SNL Studios, veteran Saturday Night Live producer Marci Klein was named as the president of SNL Studios Television in December 1999, while Richard Feldman was appointed head of SNL Studios Films in June of the same year.

Stuart Saves His Family

Stuart Saves His Family is a 1995 American comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, and based on a series of Saturday Night Live sketches from the early to mid-1990s. The film follows the adventures of would-be self-help guru Stuart Smalley, a creation of comedian Al Franken, as he attempts to save both his deeply troubled family and his low-rated public-access television show. Some of the plot is inspired by Franken's book, I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!: Daily Affirmations by Stuart Smalley.

The film was produced by Lorne Michaels. Co-stars include Laura San Giacomo, Vincent D'Onofrio, Shirley Knight, Lesley Boone and Harris Yulin. Julia Sweeney, Joe Flaherty, Robin Duke, Richard Riehle, future WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts and Kurt Fuller have cameo roles.

Superstar (1999 film)

Superstar is a 1999 American comedy film and a Saturday Night Live spin-off about a quirky, socially inept girl named Mary Katherine Gallagher. The character was created by SNL star Molly Shannon and appeared as a recurring character on SNL in numerous skits. The story follows Mary Katherine trying to find her place in her Roman Catholic private school. The movie is directed by former Kids in the Hall member Bruce McCulloch. It stars Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell, Harland Williams, and Elaine Hendrix. SNL and Kids in the Hall alum Mark McKinney, who appeared in many of the Mary Katherine Gallagher SNL skits on TV, also has a minor role as a priest. Molly Shannon received a nomination for Blockbuster Entertainment Award "Favorite Actress - Comedy" but lost out to Heather Graham in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

The Ladies Man (2000 film)

The Ladies Man is a 2000 American comedy film that stars actor, comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Tim Meadows. It was directed by Reginald Hudlin. The movie focuses on the exploits of radio host and sex therapy expert Leon Phelps, a character Meadows developed on SNL. The film was a critical and financial flop.

Three Amigos

Three Amigos is a 1986 American western comedy film directed by John Landis and written by Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, and Randy Newman. Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short star as the title characters, three silent film stars who are mistaken for real heroes by the suffering people of a small Mexican village. They must find a way to live up to their reputation and stop a marauding bandit.

Tommy Boy

Tommy Boy is a 1995 American road comedy film directed by Peter Segal, written by Bonnie and Terry Turner, produced by Lorne Michaels, and starring former Saturday Night Live castmates and close friends Chris Farley and David Spade. The film was shot primarily in Toronto and Los Angeles under the working title "Rocky Road". It tells the story of a socially and emotionally immature man (Farley) who learns lessons about friendship and self-worth following the sudden death of his industrialist father. The film did well commercially, but received mixed reviews from critics. However, since its release, Tommy Boy has become a cult classic due to being very successful on home video.The film, along with 1994 horror film Wes Craven's New Nightmare, is dedicated to Gregg Fonseca (1952 - 1994), who died eight months before its release.

Wayne's World (film)

Wayne's World is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Penelope Spheeris, produced by Lorne Michaels, and written by Mike Myers, and

Bonnie and Terry Turner. It stars Myers in his feature film debut as Wayne Campbell and Dana Carvey as Garth Algar, a pair of rock fans who broadcast a public-access television show. It also features Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere, Lara Flynn Boyle, Brian Doyle-Murray, Chris Farley, Ed O'Neill, Ione Skye, Meat Loaf, and Alice Cooper.

Wayne's World was released in the US on February 14, 1992. A critical and commercial success, it was the eighth-highest-grossing film of 1992 and it remains the highest-grossing film based on Saturday Night Live skits. A sequel, Wayne's World 2, was released on December 10, 1993.

Wayne's World 2

Wayne's World 2 is a 1993 American comedy film directed by Stephen Surjik and starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as hosts of a public-access television cable television show in Aurora, Illinois. The film is the sequel to Wayne's World (1992), which was adapted from a sketch on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

Works by Lorne Michaels
Film writer
Television writer
Television producer
Television creator
Awards for Lorne Michaels

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