Holding down the same job for almost 30 years is downright uncommon in Hollywood, but that’s what Lorne Michaels has achieved as executive producer of “Saturday Night Live.”
Michaels has helped turned the latenight NBC comedy sketch show into an American institution that has launched careers, spawned feature films and introduced characters that have earned a permanent place in pop culture.
Considering his unquestionable impact as a producer, why is it only now that he’s being honored with the Producers Guild’s David Susskind Lifetime Achievement Award in Television?
“We’ve been trying to get Lorne for years but he’s always so damn busy,” laughs PGA awards co-chair Lawrence Gordon.
As Michaels explains, “The awards are always on a Saturday night, the Writers Guild is the same. Honestly, I’m just as happy working.”
And he’ll be working this year as well. There’s a new “Saturday Night Live” airing on Jan. 17 when the guild hands out its honors. But thanks to technology and the dedicated sensibility of a successful producer, Michaels will manage to be on both coasts at once. “They’re going to do some sort of hook-up so in heart I’ll be there,” he says.
Michaels’ producing achievements aren’t limited to “SNL.” He’s produced more than a dozen feature films, including “Mean Girls,” written by “SNL” cast member and scribe Tina Fey, which just wrapped production. He’s also entered his 10th year as executive producer of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and is exec producer on NBC laffer “The Tracy Morgan Show.”
PGA Awards co-chair Debra Hill says the Susskind Award is intended for “people who have the vision and ability to take the small screen and figure out a way to grab the attention of millions of Americans in one sitting.”
Michaels’ long-standing success proves he qualifies, but the industry vet says he isn’t working for the accolades.
“The job is too hard to do if you do it for the honors,” he says. “You have to be doing it because it’s what you love.”