Who’s Afraid of Lorne Michaels?

Seth Simons at Longreads:

Michaels is intimately acquainted with this power, having spent the last half-century using SNL to launch bankable talents and profit from their careers. Bupkis isn’t just a Pete Davidson vehicle; it’s a Lorne Michaels production. So is Staten Island Summer, for that matter, and ShrillThe Tonight ShowSchmigadoon!, and That Damn Michael Che—not to mention the recently departed The Other Two and Kenan. The promise of SNL under Michaels’ leadership is simple: If you are loyal to the family, you will reap handsome rewards. Over almost 50 years, that promise has come to justify a legacy of alleged workplace abuses ranging from the familiar to the shocking. Beyond 30 Rock’s walls, it has become the promise of the massive live comedy ecosystem feeding SNL, an amorphous network of small businesses that successfully encoded their exploitative labor practices and regressive cultural norms into the industry’s DNA. As they churned ruthlessly through generations of comedy workers, they helped create the world we’re in now, the one Hollywood writers and actors are striking to change. It’s a world where talent and hard work aren’t nearly enough to earn a stable living; a world where a few fabulously wealthy men hold the power to shape entire art forms in their image.

More here.