Live From New York Book Excerpt

JANE CURTIN, Cast Member: John and I were the last two people hired, and John was hired about a week after me, so I didn't have any idea of what was going on there. But I knew John, because John and I were also auditioning for the Howard Cosell show. So I was working with John in those auditions too. He was much sweeter back then, I think, because he couldn't afford the drugs. He was more in control. He was accessible. I actually liked him when we were working on the Cosell show auditions. I thought he was a lot of fun, and I thought he was very talented. And then when he got hired by Saturday Night, I thought it was a very good idea.

LORNE MICHAELS: Gilda and John and Danny had known each other from before. Danny and I had known each other because when I came down, I brought him down from Canada. Gilda and I went back forever. And so you had Laraine, who I brought from L.A., Jane Curtin, who we kind of heard about, and the girl we were going to choose, this girl named Mimi Kennedy. But Gilda was worried that they were too similar.

GARRETT MORRIS: The way I got on the show as an actor is that a couple people on the writing staff were trying to get rid of me as a writer. Mind you, I had two plays that had been produced in New York City. In fact, New York commissioned a play from your boy, okay, and then I wrote another play, which was produced in New York and in L.A. I'm a playwright, so I was having trouble getting my stuff down to a minute or a minute and a half, to fit into some sketch. The first three months or so, a guy there stole an idea and then added a little something to it, and he didn't even give me credit for cowriting. This guy stole from me and then told Lorne I couldn't write. Lorne's response was even-tempered. He wasn't necessarily stroking me like I was a pet, but he was fair. When the challenge came to get rid of me as a writer, Lorne let me audition for the Not Ready for Prime Time Players. He did not fire me. And to this day, I am thankful for that. So I got with the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, and the look on that guy's face for the next four years was the only thing that saved me from jumping on him.

BERNIE BRILLSTEIN: Lorne really stuck to his guns at the very beginning. He told the network, "I must have seventeen shows. Give the show time to grow." They thought we were insane. And maybe we were. But it wasn't until the tenth show that they really hit their stride. Lorne was this great young writer who had this vision of this type of show. He was also a good producer, but everybody forgets what a great writer he was, and certainly a great editor. He was like a conduit for all the comedy brains at the time. He was just "The Guy."

JOHN LANDIS, Film Director: This is all hindsight, okay? I don't want to take anything away from Lorne, but he was in the right place at the right time. There were comedy movements going on everywhere. In England you had the Pythons, in San Francisco you had the Committee, in Chicago you had Second City, and then in New York - starting in Boston but then moving to New York - you had the National Lampoon Show.

If you look at Saturday Night Live's cast for the first three or four years, you'll see they were all either Lampoon or Second City. He cherry-picked people of great skill and talent that had been trained and gotten their chops.

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