Lorne Michaels has the life you want: a beautiful family. Funny, intelligent friends. And a jobcreator and producer of Saturday Night Livethat puts him at the center of American culture while still giving him summers off.
Now in its 33rd season (he also has the job security you want), SNL has bombarded us with jokes and ideas that have permeated culture so deeply, you forget where they came from. Only Hamlet has as many rock-solid catchphrases:
To be, or not to be./I'm all verklempt.
Jane, you ignorant slut./Get thee to a nunnery.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be./Strategery!
Studies show that the average American high school student could not identify which of those quotes came from which source.*
SNL is most influential during an election year. Lorne would tell you that the show's job is to attack whoever is in power. But the show's portrayals of politicians actually seem to generate affection for them, regardless of their politics. Chevy Chase's Gerald Ford was adorably clumsy. Dana Carvey's Bush Senior was wiggly and goofy. Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton may have been more charming than the real thing, and Will Ferrell turned George W. into a harmless, hapless "brocephus."
This blend of news and silliness comes from Lorne, the master of high/low. In the fashion world, high/low means a chic blend of expensive pieces with colorful cheap items. At 63, Lorne has been doing this for almost half his life. By mixing Harvard-educated writers with sweaty Chicago performers. By following a 9-min. C-Span parody with the song D___ in a Box. Lorne is stylish, and so is his show. He has flourished as a producer using one unthinkable rule: he makes movies and shows that he himself would want to watch.
As Theodoric of York once said, "To thine own self be true."
*No such study exists.
Fey, an executive producer, creator, writer and star of TV's 30 Rock, is now starring in the film Baby Mama
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