About Lorne David Michaels (Lipowitz)
Lorne Michaels, CM (born November 17, 1944) is a Canadian-American television producer, writer, and comedian best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live and producing the various film and TV projects that spun off from it.
Michaels was born Lorne David Lipowitz in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the son of Florence (née Becker) and Henry Abraham Lipowitz, a furrier. He was the eldest of the Lipowitz children. He has a sister, Barbara Lipowitz, who currently resides in Toronto, and a brother, Mark Lipowitz, who died from a brain tumor. Michaels attended the Forest Hill Collegiate Institute in Toronto and graduated from University College, University of Toronto, where he majored in English, in 1966. Michaels began his career as a writer and broadcaster for CBC Radio. 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. During the late 1960s, Michaels married Rosie Shuster, who later worked with him on Saturday Night Live as a writer. She was the daughter of Frank Shuster, one half of the famous comedy team, Wayne and Shuster. Michaels and Shuster were divorced in 1980.
Saturday Night Live
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. 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 80 Emmy Awards and has won 18. 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' best-known appearance occurred in the first season when he offered the Beatles $3,000 - a deliberately paltry sum - to reunite on the show. 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 saw 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.
He has had combative relationships with several cast members, and is generally portrayed by media onlookers as a harsh but effective boss. One source of conflict is his rather active disdain of improvisation during the performances of SNL, despite the extensive background and training in improvisational comedy many of SNL's performers have had.
Michaels started Broadway Video in 1979, producing such shows as The Kids in the Hall.
During his SNL hiatus, Michaels created another sketch show entitled 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.
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 shows Late Night, 30 Rock, and Up All Night.
In 1999, Michaels was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. In 2002, Michaels was made a member of the Order of Canada for lifetime achievement, and awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2003, he received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.
In 2004, he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Speaking at the awards ceremony, original Saturday Night Live cast member Dan Aykroyd described Michaels as "the primary satirical voice of the country."
In Canada, Michaels also received a 2006 Governor General's Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.
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."
In popular culture
Michaels at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.Dr. Evil, a character of Mike Myers's in the Austin Powers films, has been rumored to be partly based on Michaels. Myers has denied the rumors, saying that the two share only a voice.
Mark McKinney of the comedy team The Kids in the Hall has stated that his character, Don Roritor, the president of Roritor Pharmaceuticals in the film Brain Candy, is based on Lorne Michaels.
Michaels was played by Ari Cohen in the 2002 TV movie Gilda Radner: It's Always Something.
Michaels has been mentioned on three episodes of The Simpsons (every time as the butt of jokes).
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, Baldwin stated some of his inspiration for Donaghy was drawn from Michaels.
Michaels became a U.S. citizen in 1987. He has three children: Henry, who attends Dartmouth College as a member of the Class of 2014; Edward, who attends Deerfield Academy class of 2013; and a daughter, Sophie. He has been married three times, first to SNL writer Rosie Shuster (1967; div. 1980), then to model Susan Forristal (1984; div. 1987), and currently to his former assistant Alice Barry (1991 to present). Lorne has given money to the campaigns of Senators Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Sonny Landham, and John McCain over the years.
As producer, except as noted
Gilda Live (1980) (writer and producer) Nothing Lasts Forever (1984) Three Amigos (1986) (writer and producer) Wayne's World (1992) Coneheads (1993) Wayne's World 2 (1993) Lassie (1994) Tommy Boy (1995) Stuart Saves His Family (1995) Black Sheep (1996) Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996) A Night at the Roxbury (1998) Superstar (1999) Man on the Moon (1999) (appearing as self, uncredited) The Ladies Man (2000) Enigma (2001) Mean Girls (2004) Hot Rod (2007) Baby Mama (2008) MacGruber (2010)
Selected television credits
The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour (1970–71) (costar, writer, producer) Saturday Night Live (1975–1980; 1985–present) (executive producer, creator) All You Need Is Cash (aka "The Rutles") (1978) (executive producer) Mr. Mike's Mondo Video (1979) (executive producer) The New Show (1984) (producer) Sunday Night (1988–1990) (executive producer) The Kids in the Hall (1989) (executive producer) Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993–2009) (executive producer) Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego (1996-1998) (executive producer) The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch (2002) (executive producer) The Colin Quinn Show (2002) (executive producer) Sons and Daughters (2006) (producer) 30 Rock (2006–present) (executive producer) Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (2009–Present) (executive producer) Portlandia (2011-Present) (executive producer) Up All Night (2011–Present) (executive producer)
Lorne Michaels's Timeline
November 17, 1944
Toronto, Toronto Division, ON, Canada
September 13, 1981