These famous names who failed to make it onto Saturday Night Life just might give you hope if you’re trying to get that long awaited idea off the ground. We all have dreams delayed for some reason
Hollywood’s original $20 Million Man was rejected more than once by SNL. The first time was in 1980, when—citing burnout—Lorne Michaels asked to take a year off. He thought that the show would go on hiatus with him, but the network bumped associate producer Jean Doumanian into Michaels’ position to keep the show going. Her first order of business? Shake up the cast a bit. Carrey auditioned, but Doumanian hired Charlie Rocket instead. So he tried again, but again got a “no.” Michaels isn’t taking the blame for this oversight. In the book Live from New York, he says that “Jim Carrey never auditioned for me personally.” Carrey did eventually make his way onto the studio’s set; he guest hosted in 1996 and again in 2011.
In 1995, the same year that Steve Carell married fellow comedian Nancy Walls whom he met at the Second City Training Center, the couple auditioned for SNL. Walls made it but Carell didn’t, which must have made for one awkward celebratory dinner. But it all turned out well in the end; Carell went on to become a household name and has hosted the show on two occasions. He also clearly has no ill will toward the guy who beat him out of the SNL gig, Will Ferrell.
In November, Louis C.K. made his debut as an SNL host, but his history with the show dates back more than 20 years, beginning in 1993 when he auditioned—and was turned down—for a spot on the show. In a 2006 interview with ASpecialThing, Louis recalled the incident, noting that “SNL was like the last chance, the last boat leaving, so Dave Attell, Laura Kightlinger, Sarah Silverman, Jay Mohr and me and a bunch of other people all auditioned.” Though he had a great set, “everybody but me [got cast],” he said. But all was not lost. A few days later, he got a call from Robert Smigel, who wanted him to write for Late Night with Conan O’Brien, which led to some work on SNL’s TV Funhouse. Oh, and an Emmy-winning series all his own.
aul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman, has a theory as to why Gilbert Gottfried got the SNL spot the two of them auditioned for in 1980—he believes that Gottfried was favored for being friends with one of the producers. “I was so bitter and angry,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I thought, ‘You better think about doing something to take this to the next level.” Which is how Pee-Wee’s Playhouse came to be. “So I borrowed some money and produced this show. I went from this Saturday Night Live reject to having 60 people working for me.” […]
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