LORNE MICHAELS: Buddy had no idea what was going on. I don't think Bernie did either. They were from another time of show business. We were eating vegetables; they were eating doughnuts. It was a different world. We were much more like a crusade. It was a very passionate group of people. Billy was sort of one of us - but now suddenly it went into this other kind of mode. The talk with Buddy was of another time. And it made Billy not one of us. And I think that was unfortunate for all of us, because he had been.
BILLY CRYSTAL: I was waiting in the lobby with Gilda for the dress rehearsal to take place at eight o'clock while my managers talked to Lorne. We had asked for five minutes in the first hour which, given what we had been through with Lorne in the preparations, didn't seem like an outlandish request. About seven o'clock, my manager, Buddy Morra, and Jack Rollins come out and suddenly said, "Okay, we're going, that's it." I said, "What happened?" They said, "Lorne went, 'I can't do it, I can't do it, I can't do it. I can't promise anything.'" So Buddy said, "We're going to go, there's no time, you're being bumped, and that's it." I had my makeup on! Gilda got all upset and angry. I was totally confused about the whole thing.
BUDDY MORRA: It comes down to a matter of what they thought was most important. I know how bad Billy felt for a long time. I'm talking about several years after that. It still always bothered him. And it bothered me too. We walked out of NBC that night, and I can tell you my stomach was not in great shape, and it wasn't for several days after that. It wasn't an easy thing to do, but we felt it was the right thing to do.
BILLY CRYSTAL: I was upset - mad, I guess - because I had wanted to be there. I was mad at my own managers, because I wanted to do the show. And I didn't want it to look like I was the guy who stormed off the show. That wasn't the truth. But my managers were protecting me, and Lorne was protecting his show, which I respect.
LORNE MICHAELS: We were all under enormous pressure. None of us had done this before. It was a big night for an enormous number of people, Billy included. To be cut was I'm sure terribly hurtful for Billy, but there was no implication at all that it was about his not being good enough or of not wanting him on the show. This was straight confrontation. It was Buddy; it wasn't Billy.
BILLY CRYSTAL: I was friendly with John and especially with Gilda. They were always confused and blamed my managers. Especially John; he used to say, "They screwed you, man!" And then after that, things weren't great for me for a while. I felt bad. I did come back the next year when Ron Nessen hosted the show and I did a routine and that was great. But after that, there was eight years when I didn't do the show.
CRAIG KELLEM: At that time the power was on the network side. We had the power in terms of our spirit and our determination, but they had the money and it was their show. So we were constantly being pressured. One of the things the network wanted was for the cast to sign their talent contracts. I got the dubious job of chasing these guys around to get them to sign, which became like a running joke. Like, what is the next excuse going to be for somebody not signing their contract?