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10 People Banned from SNL

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NBC

During its nearly four decades on the air, Saturday Night Live has showcased plenty of hilarity—and controversy. The show runs on a tight schedule and protocol led by longtime producer and creator Lorne Michaels, and on occasion, people have gone a bit too far. Here are a few who went so far that most of them never appeared in the hallowed halls of 8H again.

1. Sinéad O’Connor

Perhaps the most notorious—and most watched—banishment from the show belongs to Sinéad O’Connor. In an unrehearsed gesture on the October 3, 1992 broadcast that hadn’t been cleared by anyone on the SNL staff, O’Connor ripped a photo of Pope John Paul II in half while singing an a cappella version of Bob Marley’s “War.”

According to SNL’s music coordinator John Zonars, O’Connor pulled off the stunt by holding a photo of a starving child during dress rehearsal, explaining that the song is essentially about child abuse and that she wanted to make a statement. This explains why the camera zoomed in at the correct moment during her live performance. Michaels seemed more understanding when interviewed for the book, Live From New York. “I think it was the bravest possible thing she could do," he said. "She’d been a nun. To her the church symbolized everything that was bad about growing up in Ireland the way she grew up in Ireland, and so she was making a strong political statement.”

The incident was addressed in the next week’s monologue by host Joe Pesci, who taped the photo of the Pope back together. O’Connor was effectively banned and hasn’t appeared on SNL since. Reruns of the show include the dress rehearsal footage of her performance.

See Also: 10 Famous People Who Rejected Saturday Night Live

2. Steven Seagal

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Hosting duties at SNL are an intensely collaborative process for cast members and the hosts themselves. Some, like those in the prestigious “Five-Timers Club,” work well with the cast and writers and are invited back, while others can’t seem to hack it. Steven Seagal fell into the latter category. While he didn’t pull any on-air stunts like Sinéad O’Connor, Seagal was unable to play nice behind the scenes. “He just wasn’t funny and he was very critical of the cast and the writing staff," said Tim Meadows in Live From New York,. "He didn’t realize that you can’t tell somebody they’re stupid on Wednesday and expect them to continue writing for you on Saturday.” Michaels got in a jab at Seagal on a later show hosted by actor Nicolas Cage. When Cage lamented during his monologue that the audience might think he’s the biggest jerk who’s ever been on the show, Michaels responded, “No, no. That would be Steven Seagal.”

3. Andy Kaufman 

Kaufman’s appearances on SNL were unpredictable and ahead of their time, beginning with SNL’s very first episode in 1975. Whether he was nervously lip-synching to the Mighty Mouse theme or impersonating Elvis Presley, audiences had no idea what would come next. Eventually, Kaufman's stint wrestling women drew the ire of then-producer Dick Ebersol. In response, Kaufman proposed an audience vote to let him stay or force him off the show. The final tally of viewers calling in to “Keep Andy” came in at 169,186, while 195,544 voted to “Dump Andy.” Whether it was another one of his audacious stunts remains to be seen, but Kaufman never appeared on SNL again following that vote.

4. Martin Lawrence

Lawrence was a huge television star in the '90s—remember his sitcom, Martin?—but his monologue while hosting SNL wasn’t a hit with the staff or network censors. After voicing his appreciation for the show, Lawrence launched into a bit about the then-recent John and Lorena Bobbitt incident then spontaneously segued into a feminine hygiene rant. The comments were removed for syndication and replaced by facetious title cards that describe his opinions as “a frank and lively presentation” that “nearly cost us all our jobs.” Lawrence hasn’t hosted since.

5. Robert Blake

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Long before he was charged with (and acquitted of) murdering his second wife, Robert Blake wasn’t too nice when he hosted SNL. Like Steven Seagal, Blake didn’t  exactly work well with the cast or writers. According to SNL writer David Sheffield—who labels the In Cold Blood and Baretta star as the worst host ever—Blake was not a fan of what the writers came up with for him during a read-through of a sketch called “Breezy Philosopher,” about a rough and tumble biker-type who quoted Kierkegaard. Allegedly, Blake crumpled up his script, turned to writer-actor Gary Kroeger, and said, “I hope you got a tough a**hole pal, ‘cause you’re going to have to wipe you’re a** with that one.” Blake’s little outburst got him banned for life.

See Also: 9 Saturday Night Live Movies That Were Never Made

6. Milton Berle

Uncle Miltie didn’t seem to get the memo that Saturday Night Live includes cast members as well as a host. According to people who worked on the show, Berle took over the production of his episode of SNL in 1979, inserting sketches of his own and intentionally upstaging cast members like Gilda Radner for cheap laughs. Berle never hosted again, and in Live From New York, Lorne Michaels characterized the difference between Berle’s old-school brand of comedy and the new, edgy comedy of his “Not Ready For Primetime Players” when he said, “I have great affection for old-time show business. But it had become corrupt. It wasn’t what it had been. The show was trying to get away from that.”

7. Adrien Brody

One would think that a little improvisation could work on a sketch comedy show, but that's not the case for SNL. When host Adrien Brody came out to introduce reggae performer Sean Paul in a 2003 episode, the actor was wearing fake dreadlocks and speaking in a stereotypical Jamaican patois. Lorne Michaels was not pleased, and Brody has yet to host a second show.

8. Charles Grodin

Charles Grodin earned banishment from SNL for his October 29, 1977 appearance as host. Grodin reportedly missed rehearsals and, when the show went live, he came across as unprepared and clumsy while stepping over the cast members' lines and ad-libbing much of his dialogue.

See Also: 32 Famous People Rejected by Saturday Night Live

9. Frank Zappa

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The godfather of weirdo rock was banned for his performance as host in 1978. Instead of just going along with the lines written for him, Zappa lazily read from the cue cards and reminded viewers that he wasn’t really trying. Instead of an A for effort, he got a B for “banned” and never showed up on SNL again. Writer Don Novello—better known on SNL as Father Guido Sarducci—called Zappa, “One of the worst ever.”

10. Elvis Costello

During their second segment on the December 17, 1977 show, Elvis Costello and the Attractions began playing the hit song “Less Than Zero” from Costello’s debut album, My Aim Is True. Soon Costello waved at his band and shouted, “Stop! I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, there’s no reason to do this song here.” The band then tore through the song “Radio Radio” in an unplanned performance that got them banned. Apparently, the dispute came from Costello’s record company instead of anything anyone at SNL did. Costello originally wanted to perform “Radio Radio”—a single that hadn’t been released yet—but Columbia Records forced them to play the better-known single. In this case, the hard feelings didn't linger; in 1989, Costello was invited back again. He even parodied his own stunt on the 25th anniversary show by interrupting the Beastie Boys' performance of "Sabotage," which quickly morphed into a joint performance of "Radio Radio."

Additional Source: Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests.

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Chloe Efforn
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Animals
John Lennon Was a Crazy Cat Lady
Chloe Efforn
Chloe Efforn

John Lennon was crazy about cats, and though he owned a couple of dogs (Sally and Bernard) over the years, he was better known for getting by with a little help from his feline friends.

1. ELVIS

Growing up, Lennon's beloved mother, Julia, had a named cat after Elvis Presley, whom Julia and John were both crazy about. The Lennons later realized they had misnamed Elvis when "he" gave birth to a litter of kittens in the cupboard, but they didn't change the cat's name based on that small mistake.

2. AND 3. TICH AND SAM

He had two other cats as a boy growing up in Liverpool: Tich and Sam. Tich passed away while Lennon was away at art school (which he attended from 1957 to 1960), and Sam was named after famous British diarist Samuel Pepys

4. TIM

One day, John Lennon found a stray cat in the snow, which his Aunt Mimi allowed him to keep. (John's Aunt Mimi raised him from a young boy through his late teenage years, and he affectionately referred to her as the Cat Woman.) He named the marmalade-colored half-Persian cat Tim.

Tim remained a special favorite of John's. Every day, he would hop on his Raleigh bicycle and ride to Mr. Smith's, the local fishmonger, where he would buy a few pieces of fish for Tim and his other cats. Even after John became famous as a Beatle, he would often call and check in on how Tim was doing. Tim lived a happy life and survived to celebrate his 20th birthday.

5. AND 6. MIMI AND BABAGHI

John and his first wife, Cynthia, had a cat named Mimi who was, of course, named after his Aunt Mimi. They soon got another cat, a tabby who they dubbed Babaghi. John and Cynthia continued acquiring more cats, eventually owning around 10 of them.

7. JESUS

As a Beatle, John had a cat named Jesus. The name was most likely John's sarcastic response to his "the Beatles are bigger than Jesus" controversy of 1966. But he wasn't the only band member with a cat named Jesus: Paul McCartney once had a trio of kittens named Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

8. AND 9. MAJOR AND MINOR

In the mid-1970s, John had an affair with his secretary, May Pang. One day, the studio receptionist brought a box of kittens into the recording studio where John and May were. "No," John immediately told May, "we can't, we're traveling too much." But she picked up one of the kittens and put it over her shoulder. Then John started stroking the kitten and decided to keep it. At the end of the day, the only other kitten left was a little white one that was so loud no one else wanted it. So they adopted it as well and named the pair Major and Minor.

10. AND 11. SALT AND PEPPER

John owned a pair of black and white cats with his wife Yoko Ono. As befitting John's offbeat sense of humor, many places report he christened the white cat Pepper and the black one Salt.

12. AND 13. GERTRUDE AND ALICE

John and Yoko also had two Russian Blue cats named Gertrude and Alice, who each met tragic ends. After a series of sicknesses, Gertrude was diagnosed with a virus that could become dangerous to their young son, Sean. John later said that he held Gertrude and wept as she was euthanized. 

Later, Alice jumped out of an open window in the Lennons' high-rise apartment at the Dakota and plunged to her death. Sean was present at the time of the accident, and he remembers it as the only time he ever saw his father cry.

14., 15. AND 16. MISHA, SASHA, AND CHARO

In later years, John also owned three cats he named Misha, Sasha, and Charo. Always an artist at heart, John loved to sketch his many cats, and he used some of these pictures as illustrations in his books.

This piece originally ran in 2012.

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entertainment
7 Famous Actors Who Starred in Obscure Short Films
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Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Well-known actors who can attract attention or lend prestige to film projects can often command significant salaries. Jack Nicholson, for example, reportedly made more than $50 million for portraying The Joker in 1989’s Batman after merchandising royalties were factored in. But performers don’t always opt for money—or even feature-length movies—if a filmmaker is persuasive enough. Here are several notable talents who agreed to appear in obscure short films for a variety of peculiar reasons.

1. HARRISON FORD // WATER TO WINE (2004)

Arguably one of the most successful leading men of the 20th century, Harrison Ford has always been candid about his criteria for film work. In addition to being intrigued by a role, he wants to be compensated. (“No, I got paid,” he told a talk show host who asked if he was nostalgic about returning to the Star Wars universe in 2015.) He apparently made an exception for Water to Wine, a 2004 amateur film shot by a group of snowboarders in Wyoming. Ford—who has a ranch in the state—accepted the role of “Jethro the Bus Driver” as a favor to the filmmakers, who were friends of his son, Malcolm. Ford’s sole request was that his name not appear in the credits.

2. BRYAN CRANSTON // WRITER’S BLOCK (2014)

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston was shooting the feature film Cold Comes the Night in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy interrupted production. Rather than sit idle, the actor told the movie’s production assistants that if they wanted to try writing a short film, he’d shoot it immediately. Winner Brandon Polanco came up with Writer’s Block, a 13-minute black-and-white mood piece about an author wrestling with a lack of inspiration.

3. BILLY BOB THORNTON // THE LAST REAL COWBOYS (2000)

Billy Bob Thornton broke into Hollywood with his 1994 short film Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade that he later expanded into a full-length feature. That DIY approach may have helped director Jeff Lester entice the actor to star in The Last Real Cowboys, a short that featured Thornton as one of two main characters sitting next to a campfire. The production shot for just one day 50 miles outside of Las Vegas. 

4. OSCAR ISAAC // LIGHTNINGFACE (2016)

A year after Star Wars: The Force Awakens crossed $2 billion at the box office, Oscar Isaac (who portrayed Poe Dameron) appeared in this eccentric short by director Brian Petsos. Isaac is Basil Stitt, a man who gets hit in the face with lightning and is convinced he will soon develop supernatural abilities. Isaac and Petsos previously worked on a feature film, Ticky Tacky.

5. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH // LITTLE FAVOUR (2013)

The BBC’s Sherlock helped make Benedict Cumberbatch a highly recognizable screen presence worldwide, which in turn helped this short film raise and exceed its $40,000 budget via the Indiegogo platform. Cumberbatch portrays a British intelligence officer active during the Iraq War who is contacted by an American spy to repay a favor. Cumberbatch, who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for The Imitation Game in 2015, also produced the film.

6. MICHAEL FASSBENDER // PITCH BLACK HEIST (2012)

Two-time Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender co-stars in this tight heist thriller about two thieves who are forced to complete a job in total darkness. (Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos Seaworth on Game of Thrones, co-starred.) Director John Maclean knew Fassbender before the actor broke out in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds and convinced him to take the gig. The two later worked on the well-received 2015 Western Slow West.

7. BILL MURRAY // A FILM ABOUT WALKING IN SLOW MOTION (2012)

The urban legends surrounding Murray’s puckish behavior are well-documented, from crashing karaoke parties to spontaneously tending bar. In 2012, Murray was filming a promotional video for a school in South Carolina attended by his son. Afterward, director David Smith asked if he could film Murray walking down a hall with crew members. He complied—and then kept walking, out of the building and into his car. 

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