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Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2021
Michaels at the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors
Lorne David Lipowitz

(1944-11-17) November 17, 1944 (age 78)
place of birth disputed; either Toronto, Ontario, Canada or British mandate of Palestine (now Israel)
  • Canadian
  • American
  • Israeli
  • Producer
  • writer
  • comedian
Years active 1968–present
Known for
  • Saturday Night Live (creator, producer)
  • Late Night (producer)
  • The Kids in the Hall (producer)
  • The Tonight Show (producer)
  • Rosie Shuster
    (m. 1971; div. 1980)
  • Susan Forristal
    (m. 1981; div. 1987)
  • Alice Barry
    (m. 1991)
Children 3

Lorne Michaels CC (born Lorne David Lipowitz; November 17, 1944) is a Canadian-American producer, screenwriter, and comedian. He is best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live (1975–1980, 1985–present) and producing the Late Night series (since 1993), The Kids in the Hall (from 1989 to 1995) and The Tonight Show (since 2014).

He has received 21 Primetime Emmy Awards from 98 nominations, holding the record for being the most nominated individual in the award show's history.

Early life

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, Canada, while others state he was born on a kibbutz in the then British mandate of Palestine (now Israel) and that his Jewish family immigrated to Toronto when he was an infant.

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.


Early career

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 Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show. He starred with Hart Pomerantz in The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour, a series of comedy specials that ran on CBC in the early 1970s.

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 January 17, 1976). 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. He later increased his offer to $3,200, but the money was never claimed. ..... 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 conditional on all four members of the group showing up, not just any Beatle. Harrison told Michaels his refusal to pay him his share is "chintzy," and Michaels countered by saying, "The Beatles don't have to split the money equally. They can give, say, Ringo less if they want."

Other work

Michaels founded the production company Broadway Video in 1979, which has produced SNL since 1981 as well as other shows such as Canadian sketch-comedy The Kids in the Hall which began airing in 1988 on CBC in Canada, debuting in the US market in 1989 on cable television network HBO until moving to CBS in 1993.

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 was cancelled after 9 episodes.

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 the 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.

Personal life

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

Michaels became a US citizen in 1987 and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2002.



Year Title Role Notes
1979 Mr. Mike's Mondo Video Executive producer
1980 Gilda Live Producer, writer
1984 Nothing Lasts Forever Producer
1986 Three Amigos Producer, writer
1992 Wayne's World Producer
1993 Coneheads Producer
1993 Wayne's World 2 Producer
1994 Lassie Producer
1995 Tommy Boy Producer
1995 Stuart Saves His Family Producer
1996 Black Sheep Producer
1996 Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy Producer
1998 A Night at the Roxbury Producer
1999 Superstar Producer
1999 Man on the Moon Cameo as himself
2000 The Ladies Man Producer
2001 Enigma Producer
2004 Mean Girls Producer
2007 Hot Rod Producer
2008 Baby Mama Producer
2010 MacGruber Producer
2012 The Guilt Trip Producer
2015 Staten Island Summer Producer
2016 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Producer
2016 Brother Nature Producer
2016 Masterminds Producer
2017 Sandy Wexler Cameo as himself


Year Title Role Notes
1970–1971 The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour Costar, writer, producer Variety sketch series, CBC
Saturday Night Live Executive producer, creator Variety sketch series, NBC
1978 All You Need is Cash: The Rutles Executive producer Television movie
1982 The Concert in Central Park Executive producer Concert special, HBO
1984 The New Show Producer Variety sketch series, NBC
1988–1990 Sunday Night Executive producer Late night television, NBC
1988 40th Primetime Emmy Awards Executive producer Awards ceremony, FOX
The Kids in the Hall Executive producer Variety sketch series, CBC/Amazon Prime Video
1993–2009 Late Night with Conan O'Brien Executive producer Variety talk series, NBC
2002 The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch Executive producer Television film
2002 The Colin Quinn Show Executive producer Variety talk series, NBC
2006 Sons and Daughters Producer Television series, ABC
2006–2013 30 Rock Executive producer Television series, NBC
2009–2014 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Executive producer Variety talk series, NBC
2011–2018 Portlandia Executive producer Variety sketch series, IFC
2011–2013 Up All Night Executive producer Television series, NBC
2013–2015 The Awesomes Executive producer Television series, Hulu
2014–present The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Executive producer Variety talk series, NBC
2014–present Late Night with Seth Meyers Executive producer Variety talk series, NBC
2014 Howard Stern Birthday Bash Himself Television special
2014–2015 Mulaney Executive producer Television series, Fox
2014 The Maya Rudolph Show Executive producer Variety talk series, IFC
2015–2017 Man Seeking Woman Executive producer Variety sketch series, FX
2015–present Documentary Now! Executive producer Variety sketch series, IFC
2015 Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special Executive producer, himself Television special, NBC
2015 Adele Live in New York City Executive producer Television special, NBC
2016 Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Guest – Himself Episode: "Everybody Likes to See the Monkeys", Netflix
2016 Maya & Marty Executive producer Variety sketch series, NBC
2017–2018 Detroiters Executive producer Television series, Comedy Central
2017 The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special Executive producer Television special, NBC
2018–2021 A.P. Bio Executive producer Television series, NBC/Peacock
2018 70th Primetime Emmy Awards Executive producer Awards ceremony, NBC
2018 Love, Gilda Himself Documentary, HBO
2018 Norm Macdonald Has a Show Guest – Himself Episode: "Lorne Michaels", Netflix
2019–2021 Shrill Executive producer Television series, Hulu
2019–present Miracle Workers Executive producer Television series, TBS
2019–present The Other Two Executive producer Television series, Comedy Central/HBO Max
2019–present Los Espookys Executive producer Television series, HBO
2020 Mark Twain Prize: Dave Chappelle Himself Awards ceremony, PBS
2020 Mapleworth Murders Executive producer Television series, Quibi
2021-2022 Kenan Executive producer Television series, NBC
2021-present That ... Michael Che Executive producer Television series, HBO Max
2021-present Schmigadoon! Executive producer Television series, Apple TV+
2021 Saturday Morning All Star Hits! Executive producer Television series, Netflix


Year Title Role Theatre Notes
1979 Gilda Radner: Live From New York Producer, director, and writer Winter Garden Theatre
1998 Colin Quinn -- An Irish Wake Producer Helen Hayes Theatre Straight Play
2018 Mean Girls Producer August Wilson Theatre Broadway and North American tour

In popular culture

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.

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.

..... 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.


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

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

Also in 1999, Michaels received an honorary degree from Ryerson University.

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 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".

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

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 2012, Michaels was awarded a rare Personal Peabody Award. He accepted at a ceremony in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel.

In December 2021, Michaels was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors, along with Justino Diaz, Berry Gordy, Bette Midler, and Joni Mitchell.

Ribbon Description Notes
CAN Order of Canada Companion ribbon.svg Companion of the Order of Canada (C.C.)
  • Awarded on: May 11, 2018;
  • This is a promotion within the order
CAN Order of Canada Member ribbon.svg Member of the Order of Canada (C.M.)
  • Awarded on: May 1, 2002
  • Invested on: February 21, 2003
QEII Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for Canada
  • 2002: As a member of the Order of Canada, he was also awarded with The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal.
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Canada
  • 2012: As a member of the Order of Canada, he was also awarded with The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction (ribbon).svg Presidential Medal of Freedom

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Lorne Michaels para niños

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