Ahead of the 40th Anniversary episode of Saturday Night Live, which will air next weekend, Lorne Michaels gave a lengthy interview with The Hollywood Reporter discussing some of the machinations behind the last 40 years.
Of particular note, he said that the 25th Anniversary show as the first time he’d ever really been proud of SNL, stated that he has no succession plan in place nor any intention of leaving the show anytime soon, and admitted that he kicked himself a little for not hiring Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert after their auditions. He also said that he didn’t hire Jim Carrey because he wasn’t at his audition, and someone in the room said, “‘I don’t think Lorne would like it,’ and they were probably wrong, but it doesn’t matter.”
As for which season he most regrets? That’s the season he returned for the first time after a 5-year hiatus and tried to rebuild the show.
1985. I wanted to recapture what [we had had]. Dan Aykroyd was 22 [in 1975], I believe, and so was Laraine Newman. I think Bill Murray was, too. Gilda [Radner] and John [Belushi] were like 24. I was 30, Chevy [Chase] was 31. … We were just younger, and so I wanted to get back to that and I maybe went too young. I think it wasn’t thought through as much as I would have liked it to have been. But good things came out of that season, and then we adjusted the following year.
That cast, by the by, included Joan Cusack, Robert Downey, Jr., Nora Dunn, Anthony Michael Hall, Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, Randy Quaid, Terry Sweeney, Al Franken, and Damon Wayans. They were all fired the following year, except Nora Dunn, Jon Lovitz, featured player A. Whitney Brown, and Weekend Update anchor Dennis Miller. Franken was also fired, but rehired as a writer.
They would all, of course, disappear into obscurity after getting fired from SNL.