Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels was accused by a former employee of engaging in a relationship with actress Nora Dunn that led to the promotion of her status on the show.
Former cast member Jon Lovitz spoke about the “relationship” in the 2002 oral history book Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by James A. Miller and Tom Shales.
“I think Nora Dunn got a lot of her stuff on because of her relationship with Lorne. She would get everything on. I thought that was the reason, and a lot of other people thought that was the reason,” Lovitz said.
“Then she would complain: ‘The show’s against women.’ She got all of her stuff on, almost all of it. She had her own writer hired for her, Christine Zander. And then she would say how tough it was for women and stuff. I just was like, what are you talking about?” Lovitz said.
Cast member Nora Dunn made headlines for boycotting an episode of SNL in 1990 hosted by comedian Andrew Dice Clay, whom Dunn felt was misogynistic.
“I’ve never met Nora Dunn to this day. And obviously it didn’t work out for her the way she thought it would. And, you know what, that’s what she deserved,” Dice Clay said in Miller and Shales’ book. “I guess she thought she was going to become like a major star from that. That’s not how you become a major star. I thought it was a foolish move to start with.”
Actress Victoria Jackson remembers auditioning for Saturday Night Live after hearing that another female candidate did a “strip routine for her audition.” Jackson remembers the existence of female assistants for Michaels colloquially dubbed “Lornettes.”
“So then I did my little standup comedy act. I guess I had about ten minutes. I sang my songs and did my handstand poetry, and Lorne was watching with about three Lornettes. You know, they’re called the Lornettes, the girls who work for Lorne and make sure he has plenty of popcorn. The bravest cast members would eat some of Lorne’s popcorn but I was scared to. But one time I did and like one kernel fell on the floor and one of the Lornettes gave me a dirty look. They’re not supposed to let any of them fall on the floor, you see.”