Lorne Michaels

Active - 1978 - 2020  |   Born - Nov 17, 1944 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Music

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Biography by AllMovie

Producer Lorne Michaels is almost solely responsible for introducing a staggering number of current celebrities into the world spotlight through his immensely popular weekly sketch-comedy series, Saturday Night Live: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Jane Curtin, Bill Murray, Phil Hartman, and Will Ferrell, just to name a few.

A native of Canada, Michaels earned an English degree from the University of Toronto and proceeded to leave the country for a stint as an automotive salesman in England. He returned to Canada in 1966 and became half of a popular comedy duo, with fellow writer/comedian Hart Pomerantz who performed on a CBC satire show. The duo's success led to the start of a new show entitled The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour. In the late '60s, the pair headed south to the States and found themselves writing for The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show. While the show didn't last beyond six weeks, it did lead to assignments writing for such shows as Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. In 1975, Michaels was approached to create a pilot for a late Saturday night spot that had been airing reruns of The Tonight Show. He gathered some unknown writers and comedians together and Saturday Night Live began its first season. Michaels stayed with the show until 1980, left for five years, and returned in 1985 at the request of Brandon Tartikoff, then the NBC chief of programming, in order to save what had since become a failing show. Saturday Night Live has received over 60 Emmy nominations, has won more than a dozen of them, and Michaels has himself earned no less than eight of the awards, five of which were the result of Saturday Night Live.

In 1979, Michaels founded his production company, Broadway Video, through which he developed another sketch-comedy television series called The Kids in the Hall. First attaining success in Canada, the show launched the careers of David Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson, Mark McKinney, and Kevin McDonald, and later aired in the US where it gained a huge cult following. With 1992's Wayne's World, a big-screen adaptation of a popular SNL sketch, Michaels added box-office blockbuster film producer to his resumé. Over the ensuing years, he continued to work on feature film projects while remaining the head-honcho of Saturday Night Live. His films have been a mixture of hits (Tommy Boy) and bombs (The Ladies Man).

In 2006 Michaels scored yet another small screen hit as Executive Producer of 30 Rock, the Emmy-winning NBC sitcom starring SNL alumni Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan as the head writer and star, respectively, of a popular television sketch comedy show (as well as featuring frequent SNL host Alec Baldwin as their arrogant boss), with additional producing duties on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Portlandia (featuring active SNL cast member Fred Armisen) serving to keep the television veteran active during the work week.

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  • Started out writing and performing with comedy partner Hart Pomerantz on the Canadian TV series The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour.
  • Founded the New York-based production company Broadway Video Inc. in 1979.
  • Inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1999.
  • Received the Kennedy Center's 2004 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2016.
  • Extensive producing career includes executive producing, in addition to SNL, the Colin Quinn Show, Late Night With Conan O'BrienLate Night With Jimmy Fallon and 30 Rock.