Saturday Night Live is closing in on its 40th anniversary (the premiere episode aired on October 11th, 1975) and Lorne Michaels is spearheading the search for new talent to replace Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen, who departed at the end of last season.
Originally called NBC’s Saturday Night, the title switched to SNL in ’77, generating some of the most talented comedians in Hollywood, including Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal,Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell and Tina Fey.
The Times spoke with several cast members from the past 38 years, all of whom were forced to recall their dreaded auditions and devastating rejections at the hands of Michaels.
Chase, who told the paper that he didn’t think the show would last “more than a year,” looked back on first auditions.
“We went through this stage where basically people tried out with stand-up and [comedy] groups. Gilda [Radner] was already chosen, and Danny [Aykroyd], too. Then [as a head writer] I sat with Lorne in the Steinway building on 57th Street,” Chase said. “There was a little proscenium stage, and lots of acts came in. We took Jane [Curtin]. Billy Murray, we didn’t take. [Laughs.] I don’t remember why. But for some reason he didn’t make the cut.”
Season 39 begins on September 28th, 2013.