In case that headline gave you heart palpitations, rest easy: Lorne Michaels isn’t exiting Saturday Night Live anytime soon. If and when the SNL executive producer does choose to depart his creation, though, Tina Fey wouldn’t be interested in picking up his mantle.
The subject came up in a recent interview with the Huffington Post, tied to Fey’s new comedy Admission. When the interviewer asks Fey if she might hypothetically want to step into Michaels’s shoes someday, the comedian immediately dismisses the idea: “Oh, SNL? I mean, I feel like SNL is so defined by Lorne’s taste and his sensibility. That’s why any time people have tried to imitate the format and make their own version of it, you’ll notice it never really quite happens,” Fey said.
Furthermore, Fey believes SNL as an institution is so tied to Michaels that when he steps away from the show, it should end altogether: “He is the center of the show…when he wants to stop, it should just stop.”
Liz Lemon has a point. Saturday Night Live‘s least-loved season was its sixth, which was overseen by Jean Doumanian after Michaels resigned from the show, citing burnout. Audiences rejected her completely new cast and group of writers, with one notable exception — 19-year-old Eddie Murphy, who joined the show in November 1980. The Dick Ebersol years, which followed Doumanian’s disastrous tenure, were more well-received — Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Billy Crystal, and Martin Short all joined the show in that era — but SNL didn’t really regain its former glory until after the 1985-1986 season, when Michaels returned.
Still, it’s fun to imagine how Saturday Night Live might look if Tina were in the EP’s seat — provided she’s a better overseer than her 30 Rock alter ego. Her first act: Annuale for everyone, of course.