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Lorne Michaels is a television producer known for creating and shaping the late-night show Saturday Night Live.
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In 1975, NBC hired Lorne Michaels to create a show to run on Saturday nights. After gathering a group of actors and writers, Michaels debuted Saturday Night Live, a sketch comedy show that has launched numerous careers. The show has been nominated for 160 Emmy Awards and has won 35. Michaels is recognized as one of the most influential comedy producers of all time.
"Sometimes the wheel turns slowly, but it turns."
"To me, there's no creativity without boundaries. If you're gonna write a sonnet, it's 14 lines, so it's solving the problem within the container."
Lorne Michael Lipowitz was born on November 17, 1944, on a kibbutz in Israel. His family immigrated to Toronto, Canada, when he was a child. Michaels began to write fiction as a teenager. Soon after graduating from the University of Toronto, he set his sights on a career in entertainment.
Michaels partnered with fellow Canadian Hart Pomerantz and the comedy duo developed a show for the Canadian Broadcasting Co., The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour. In 1968, Michaels moved to Los Angeles, California, to write for The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show and Laugh-In, as well as for a number of Canadian television shows.
In 1975, NBC hired a 30-year-old Lorne Michaels and a 27-year-old executive Dick Ebersol to create a show to replace reruns of The Tonight Show that were running on Saturday nights. The pair developed the idea of a sketch comedy show that was filmed in front of a live audience and pulled together a group of writers and actors, nicknamed the "Not Ready for Primetime Players" and including talents such as Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner and John Belushi. Saturday Night Live made its debut on October 11, 1975, with comedian George Carlin appearing as the show's first host. The 1975 season featured the short films of Albert Brooks and multiple appearances by Jim Henson's Muppets.
SNL, which always ends its first sketch with the announcement, "Live from New York! It's Saturday Night!" became a sensation. Following its first season, the series earned four Emmy Awards as well as a fanatic audience.
In time, the show earned the reputation of a comedy institution, becoming noted for its ability to reinvent itself through a steady stream of some of the best and brightest new comedic talents. Over the years, SNL has launched some of the biggest names in comedy, including Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig and Amy Poehler.
Michaels left the show in 1980 for five years until NBC's then chief of programming, Brandon Tartikoff, recruited him to return and nurse the failing show back to national prominence. Michaels returned as executive producer in 1985—a title he still holds today.
Over its decades-long run, the show has been nominated for more than 160 Emmys and has won 35. At the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors, Michaels received the Mark Twain Prize. In 2008, TIME magazine named him to its "100 most influential people" list. In 2012, Michaels was awarded an Individual Peabody Award.
Michaels has a split reputation within the world that he's created.
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