Stories about Lorne Michaels’ intimidating influence and prickly personality have been around as long as Saturday Night Live has been on the air, but an excerpt from Chris Kattan’s recent memoir, Baby, Don’t Hurt Me, paints a particularly damning picture of the powerful comedy producer. In telling the story of the making of A Night At The Roxbury—the 1998 film based on a recurring sketch Kattan performed in with Will Ferrell—the comedian describes being pressured by Lorne Michaels to sleep with Clueless director Amy Heckerling, who was, at the time, attached to the project.
“Paramount would only do the movie if Amy signed on as director … If I wanted to make sure the movie happened, I had to keep Amy happy,” Kattan writes, describing how Michaels was furious with him the day after he initially refused Heckerling’s advances. “Chris, I’m not saying you have to fuck her, but it wouldn’t hurt,” Michaels said. Kattan, then only 27 years old, describes the inner turmoil he felt about being told to sleep with a woman who was, at that time, a powerful creative figure in Hollywood and ostensibly his boss. Ultimately, Kattan reveals, the pair had a consensual intimate encounter.
Either because he was too embarrassed, scared, or confused, Kattan decided not to tell anyone about the incident, which he claims put an untenable strain on his already fraying relationship with then-girlfriend Jennifer Coolidge and on his friendship with Will Ferrell. In the end, Amy Heckerling signed on as a producer and John Fortenberry ended up directing the film, which was a critical bomb and currently holds an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. “I was attracted to Amy,” Kattan writes. “But at the same time very afraid of the power she and Lorne wielded over my career.”
UPDATE (5/29): This morning, Mollie Heckerling, daughter of Amy Heckerling and Harold Ramis, took to Twitter to share her account of Chris Kattan’s relationship with her mother. While her account differs greatly from Kattan’s, she ends by saying she would be “VERY interested to hear what Lorne Michaels has to say about all of this.”
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