Episode #8

Lorne Michaels

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Monday, January 30, 2012


Lorne Michaels had nothing to lose on October 11, 1975, when Saturday Night Live first aired. He doesn't pull all-nighters any more in preparation for the week’s show, but Michaels tells Alec he is still anxious on Saturdays at 11:30 pm. Michaels believes in the power of live performance and gives SNL hosts the best bits. But aside from the funniest lines, the irreverent Michaels offers little protection. Alec is no exception.  

READ | Interview Transcript

Hosted by:

Alec Baldwin

Produced by:

Emily Botein and Kathie Russo

Comments [60]

james buechler from United States

Very inspirational!

Jan. 01 2015 08:57 PM
Alan from Durham, NC USA

“The only way you can manage creative people is with very loose reigns,”

That's hilarious. It's wrong but it's right, in a Gracie Allen kind of way.

Apr. 06 2014 07:12 PM
Rob Byker from New Mexico

This was a great interview. Alec and Lorne have such a deep knowledge of their craft that their conversation has lingered with me. I have a new appreciation for the uniqueness of producing live television in a week. Lorne's comment about the benefit of working within the limits of a medium: to "solve the problem within the container" helps me as I approach my own work.

Sep. 06 2013 03:41 PM

Stumbled across this program after hearing Alec interview Thom Yorke. Excellent work and I do enjoy the Coltrane and Miles music interjected throughout. This is a great program.

Apr. 04 2013 01:12 PM
Fee Galindo from las cruces,nm


Mar. 10 2013 06:08 AM
Cramer from Brooklyn

I do love the lively repartee- except when Alec's interjections annihilate the guest's finishing thoughts.

Jan. 01 2013 11:28 AM
Pat from Vancouver, BC

Almost 40 years after Lorne did a satirical radio program for the Canadian Broadcasting I find myself in the same boat. I found his interview inspiring, educational and incredibly articulate about comedy. The tradition of satire on radio in Canada continues, if interested check out

Oct. 16 2012 12:31 PM

Got the RSS feed. Cool. I first heard Alec Baldwin as an interview guest host on Studio 360, and he was exceptionally good.

Jun. 19 2012 02:51 PM
Harold in Philly from Bala Cynwyd, PA

This was the 3rd "There's the Thing" I listened to and now I'm convinced you are really *good* at this. Getting one interview to go right is a fluke, getting two right is long odds, but getting three consistently interesting and even captivating interviews, well that's has got to be talent, and you (and your team) have got it.

And the length is just perfect --- not too long, not to short. I look forward to each new episode.

Jun. 10 2012 08:35 PM
Travis from Youngstown

I have recently discovered this podcast and thoroughly enjoy it! This particular interview with Lorne Michaels was especially fascinating because I am a huge fan of Saturday Night Live and some of his other production work, such as 30 Rock and Wayne's World. The conversation in this interview felt so personal and made me feel like I was sitting in room alongside these prestigious men. I especially enjoyed the discussions about the operations of SNL and Lorne's management of the creative process. It was a pleasure listening to Alec's interview and Lorne's story.

May. 19 2012 01:52 PM
Susan from Bakersfield

This was such a good interview. I hope Lorne Michaels writes his autobiography someday.

May. 11 2012 11:44 AM
John Donovan from Boston

Wow...just discovered this podcast. Thank you Alec, great stuff.

Apr. 27 2012 08:35 AM
Kevin Toner from Indianapolis

I just got around to listening to the Lorne Michaels interview this morning and loved it. I wanted to mention how impressed I am with not only Alec Baldwin's talented questioning, but also the great editing of these shows. For example, in this podcast a judgment was made to include Lorne Michaels' reference to Shakespeare and his character, Falstaff. Other shows would have it buried in an hour long conversation or snipped it out in the final edit. It was terrific and gave me yet another interesting angle to understand his career. These sorts of choices separate this high quality production from not only almost every other podcast, but pretty much everything else we listen to these days.

Please hang in there and keep the show going. It's wonderful and it keeps me coming back for more!

Apr. 16 2012 04:51 PM
Fred Herrman from Burbank, CA

I found this to be one of the most interviews on this show so far in that Mr. Michaels' career is so long and rich, that practically everything he told about in the interview was fascinating in some way. Really enjoyed this one.

Apr. 10 2012 08:13 PM
David from Brooklyn, YO

This was really great, BUT isn't Lorne kind of Alec's boss at 30 Rock? If so, it's the kind of disclosure that a host might want to make about his relationship to the guest at the top of the program. Obviously HTT isn't 60 Minutes, but still. Otherwise, a compelling & entertaining program.

Apr. 03 2012 07:17 PM
Michael Umble from Calistoga, CA

This is, simply put, brilliant!I produced a similarly formatted show at from 2000 to 2003, when there was scarcely such thing as a podcast. I know that it is not nearly as easy as you make it sound and I applaud your success. Is it entertaining, educational and sometimes hilarious. Thank you

Apr. 02 2012 03:41 PM
Ginny Hostetter from Westport, CT

You are the best laugher, ever.

Mar. 30 2012 05:17 PM
Bill from Bedford from Bedford, NY

Prior to my first podcast I wasn't sure what I'd be listening to - would it be a lot of Hollywood types patting each other on the back?
Well I was pleasantly surprised that the conversation was quite interesting and free flowing - bouncing from serious to comedy and lingering a bit there but never staying away from the topic for too long. The discussions opened a door into the lives or careers of people I respect ( Michael Douglas, Lorn Michaela, Chris Rock - so far) and gave me a fresh appreciation of them as individuals and what they are about.

Nice job Alec! Keep it up!

Mar. 29 2012 09:52 AM
Carol from 66044

Really enjoyed this interview and like the conversational style, but yes, do try to be mindful of your interlocutor and let them finish their thought.

Mar. 29 2012 12:41 AM
Kels from Southern Indiana

I have heard from interviews of both you and Tina Fey that JacK Donaghy is based on Lorne, so it was such a great juxtaposition to hear you as yourself with the "What am I, a farmer?" mentality coming from Lorne. So engaging, can't wait to hear from more guests!

Mar. 13 2012 01:16 PM
Jan from Pembroke NH

I really enjoyed the interviews. I have listened to a few of them and will subscribe to it as I do my other favorites like The Moth, and This American Life, etc etc...

Mar. 13 2012 11:02 AM
Haydee Foreman from Downeast Maine

Alec, I love you. I am so thrilled you are doing this new show. You are are my dream man. Just be mindful to let your guests finish their sentences. At least give them a chance. I've only listened to the Lorne and Chris interviews so maybe you're getting better about this. Your stories and your input and your contributions to the conversation are excellent. You are insightful and have experience in so many aspects of the Business. I know you'll grow into this role. It was terrific when you sat in for Kurt Andersen, it was clear you have a passion and a gift for this medium. I can't wait to hear what's next.

Mar. 06 2012 09:07 PM

Very interesting and fun to listen to. From Thomas the Tank Engine to 30 Rock to Ghosts of MI to guest appearances on NPR's "Wait...Wait," you've got a built-in fan base AB! Don't stop.

Mar. 06 2012 11:59 AM
Cyrus Ockenga from North Shore, MA

I loved the show with Lorne Michaels. It is so eye opening to here him talk about his career and what goes into making SNL. Thank you for being such a great host with the ability to carry a conversation so gracefully with such important and influential figures. I really appreciate it!

Mar. 04 2012 11:32 PM
John Ahern from Boston

Nice show. Very benig. Inteligence is rare. Keep up the work. It'll get better.
Lorne and Cavitt were worth listening to. How bout getting some other, more interesting/famous folk on?
McCartney, Yoko, DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, Rickles.
Good Job!

Mar. 04 2012 04:06 PM

jen- i agree, it[SNL] is a crap show today,for the most part. it had flirtations with greatness, once upon a.......

Mar. 02 2012 06:38 PM

I think SNL sucks. It's too bad that Alec didn't ask Lorne why SNL and NBC's staff hassle fans and what's with the ridiculous standby line policy changes. Mr. 1% trying to make life as miserable as possible for 99%. There is no diversity in the musical guests on the show.

Why this show is still on the air after all these years is mystifying.

Mar. 02 2012 06:09 PM
Mark C from Memphis, TN market

I'm so glad you brought this up on Letterman. I don't watch him anymore but made an exception because you were on and I am glad I did or I might never have found these podcasts. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest. It is also great that my teenagers hear an enjoyable, entertaining interview that isn't shallow or conducted solely to address some agenda. I hope you enjoy doing these as much as it sounds like you do. Thanks again.

Feb. 23 2012 11:36 AM
June Gooch from Meaford, Ontario Canada

I was born in Toronto and now live in Meaford Ontario. I remember going to the CBC studio on Yonge St. in Toronto to see a programme called "Night Cap" and I have always felt "Laugh IN" was a take off of this show. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Alec Baldwin's interview with Lorne Michaels. Thank you for opportunity.

Feb. 22 2012 10:25 PM

Enjoyed the interview tremendously. I was a freshman in college when a professor mentioned a performer named Chevy Chase and this new show. I tuned in and was hooked. At parties in the mid 70's things would come to a complete stop as everyone gathered around the tv to watch SNL. Since that time SNL has, to varying degrees, been a part of my life. Fascinating to hear Lorne talk about the creative process. Alec did a great job of getting him to open up, but I agree with Betsy, it is little frustrating when Alec talks over the interviewee.

Feb. 22 2012 01:36 PM
Clint Anderson from Albany,Ohio

This was the first podcast I ever listened to and It was AWESOME!Lorne and Alec are two people who I admire and am a fan of,so this was just amazing.Also,it was a good interview-nice to hear about Lorne´s earlier days before SNL etc.

Feb. 22 2012 11:13 AM
Kevin Kelly from Melville NY

Great interview. You captured a Lorne that not too many people could have.
He was at ease and candid. Loved it!
Would love to get YOU on my show , a video podcast where we interview the greatest creative minds of the nation.
Mostly on marketing, but this year we are reaching beyond those boundaries.
Please let me know how to reach someone on your support team & and keep up the awesome interviews!!

Kevin Kelly
Chief Creative Operative
The buzzbubble

Feb. 20 2012 04:24 PM
Betsy from NYC

This is the 3rd or 4th interview I've listened to - I'm a big fan of A.B. - I like the people being interviewed - but I get frustrated and annoyed when A.B. talks over the interviewee. I've noticed it a lot but... I don't see any other listeners commenting on this. maybe it's me.

Feb. 20 2012 03:19 PM

This is the third or fourth of Mr. Baldwin's podcasts that I have listened to and I find them to be uniformly informative, civil, entertaining, and excellent. And ADULT! My gosh! Though I'm not much of an SNL fan, I do enjoy learning about people of achievement, and Lorne Michaels is certainly one of those, as is Mr. Baldwin; the conversation was a real pleasure. Please keep them coming.

Feb. 18 2012 01:02 PM
jeff weingrad from Central Jersey

There's a lot on how Lorne put "SNL" together, and the roller coaster ride of triumphs and tribulations of the early years, in the just e-published "Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live," the critically acclaimed history of the show's first 10 years. Excerpts, including one about Lorne quickly establishing himself as SNL's "Fearless Leader," are at The SNL Book facebook page

Feb. 13 2012 04:39 PM
Darren Foreman from Reykjavik, Iceland

It's a great show, Alec. I'd almost forgotten what two intelligent people talking sounds like. So far, I appreciate the balanced stance you take with your guests, guiding and probing but never provoking. But I suspect/hope that, as you become more and more comfortable with this format, you'll push back a little bit with the appropriate guests/subjects. But please... keep the shows coming.

Feb. 12 2012 03:54 PM
Eric Winick from Brooklyn

I am always shocked by how much he sounds like Dr. Evil.

Feb. 12 2012 08:49 AM
radiorex from Greenville, MS

Listened for the first time tonight! I really enjoyed the interview with Lorne. It was great learning about his time with the CBC and his time spent in California. His comments regarding how he learned to "be a boss" when he returned to SNL were quite enlightening. It is relieving to know that a person of his caliber once had the same problems that so many, including myself, have had as far as making the transition from having the ability to lead to being able to handle the more painful elements of letting someone go when it isn't working out.

Feb. 09 2012 11:50 PM
Tom Frame from Canada

Mr. Baldwin's interviews are top notch. Not only does he excel in al types of acting. His skills as an interviewer has shown me personally that he excels at anything he does what out Charlie Rose.

Feb. 09 2012 02:14 PM
Robert from Florida

I just listened to your interview with Lorne Michaels on Excellent. I particularly enjoyed learning some of the parameters of producing you both talked about and Mr. Michaels evolving from a leader to a boss. More and perhaps most importantly for me, I learned again something I think I have intuitively known all my life... creativity comes with boundaries, such as, and I quote Mr. Michaels "a song is fourteen lines." I enjoyed learning about the process of bringing SNL to air and will be listnening again when you bring "Here's the Thing" to Syndicated News.

Feb. 06 2012 05:40 AM
Chantale Renee from Toronto, Canada

What a thrill it was to be there with you, in Lorne's office. Wildly inspiring. Thank you!

Feb. 05 2012 09:06 PM
MM from Sydney, Australia

This is your best interview yet. You got some real insight out of Lorne Michaels - loved the discussions around the creative process.

Feb. 05 2012 05:30 PM
metronyc from Arcadia, Florida

Great interview...

Feb. 05 2012 09:16 AM
Trish from Missouri

Dear Beverman, Take your own inventory, and AA practices attraction not promotion. Call your sponsor. Alec, I love everything SNL, thanks!

Feb. 05 2012 12:09 AM
Martin from Bayonne, N.J.

A good interview with Lorne Michaels. Alec is as professional as any journalist. Lorne talked about a lot of things I didn't already know.

Feb. 04 2012 11:26 PM
Charles from Rutgers from New Brunswick, NJ

Awesome interview! two of my favorite quotes:

"If you look around the room, and you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room"

"There is creativity in confinement."

Feb. 04 2012 07:03 PM
Sarah from London, England

I love these interesting, laid back interviews and Alec's soothing, intimate voice, a lovely way to alleviate the stress of navigating the tube every morning on my way into the city!

Feb. 03 2012 04:49 PM
Kalani Thielen from New York

This was a great show (even better than last time I heard you, in Thomas the Tank Engine). It was very interesting to get Lorne's backstory and the process that produced SNL and so much great comedy.

Feb. 01 2012 05:19 PM

Please grow up. I can tolerate your antics with your ex. I can tolerate your antics on a plane. I wish I could tolerate your antics with your child. But, now I have to tolerate your antics with Elizabeth Warren.

She is amazing and walks through life with dignity and grace. You can still "promptly admit when you are wrong". Come on....remember "made a list of all persons we had harmed and were willing to make amends...

come on you can do it...Suit up show up and learn some humility

Feb. 01 2012 03:30 PM
Joannie from LI, NY

Totally enjoyable, delightful interview with Lorne Michaels. He is a very interesting man as are you, Alec. Very well done interview. Thank you! I highly recommend it for everyone to listen to and enjoy! Just Great!

Feb. 01 2012 03:19 PM
Chelsea Holup from Santa Rosa California

Wonderfule interview-insightful,funny,and honest.

Feb. 01 2012 02:46 PM
Caroline from Clifton Park. NY

Excellent interview - thanks. You can see the writer side of Lorne in the way he composes and condenses his own answers.

Feb. 01 2012 12:38 PM

Utterly fascinating interview with Lorne Michaels. Thank you. "Here's The Thing" is getting better and better with every show.

Feb. 01 2012 11:40 AM

Wonderful interview. As an SNL fanatic, this is one of the greatest podcasts Ive heard. Thanks Alec

Feb. 01 2012 10:53 AM

Me like it!

Feb. 01 2012 12:41 AM
Christopher from New York, NY

Very good interview...Gets to the point, engaging, funny and certainly an education to learn about this great man!

Jan. 31 2012 12:40 PM

Thank you for spending so much time on Lorne's early career in Toronto and in Burbank. The SNL histories that I have read tend to only devote a few paragraphs to those first 10,000 hours.

Jan. 31 2012 08:39 AM
Matthew from Los Angeles

Great interview. It felt you were talking to him as a friend, not a subject, and I respect that. But I would have liked to have heard his take on the criticism of SNL that the public spews every sunday morning after the show (examples: "The writing sucks").

Jan. 30 2012 04:09 PM
Lincoln Harrice from NYC

Very engaging talk with Lorne, and thank you for it, Alec.
In your next chat with Lorne Michaels, I would like to hear his thoughts on the changes in American satire over thirty seven years; changes in the audience and writers and why so often today's SNL's are flat, silly, puerile and without edge. Occasionally though, as with the Timberlake/ Ga Ga edition it the show does regain something like its former flash and kick. What accounts for the unevenness? Mostly the hosts?

Jan. 30 2012 03:27 PM

Brilliant, insightful, and thought provoking are only a few words, which describe "Here the Thing."

Jan. 30 2012 03:26 PM

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