Though SNL 40 is already aired and over with, Saturday Night Live didn’t actually premiere until October of 1975, meaning we’ve still got six or so more months of SNL-related think pieces, interviews, and so on. Salon just launched a new exclusive interview series where it’ll be talking to SNL cast members and writers from every era of the show, starting with Nora Dunn.
Dunn joined the show for the 1985-86 season, at a time when the show was very nearly cancelled. Her characters, like singing sister Liz Sweeney, model-turned-talk-show host Pat Stevens, and film critic Ashley Ashley, made her a fan favorite, though she left the show in 1990 amidst some Andrew Dice Clay-related controversy. Dunn has continued to work, recently appearing on shows like New Girl and Mulaney and in the upcoming Entourage movie, but it’s her SNL recollections that fans are no doubt most interested in.
Take, for instance, he thoughts about the lack of an SNL 40 tribute to the late Jan Hooks:
I know that the reunion was presented as a variety show, for the reunion, but she died so recently—she wasn’t featured in anything. Mark Shaiman wrote music [to honor all the music that was on “Saturday Night Live,” and they asked if I wanted to do Liz Sweeney in the tribute. I thought it was very awkward, because Jan died and so Candy Sweeney also died. Still, I thought they would do some kind of a Sweeney sisters tribute, but they were not featured at all. I thought I had false memory syndrome: We were very popular. Pat Stevens was a very popular sketch, and that wasn’t featured.
Dunn also talked about how traumatic it was to work on the show, calling it “something you have to survive” and talking in the interview about how she had a particularly contemptuous relationship with Jon Lovitz and Victoria Jackson. And she says that while she loves Lovitz, she’s never made up with him following the Dice Clay debacle. Though, as she says,
We never made amends because we were never the kind of friends that had to make amends. I am not interested in what he has to say. I am not interested in what Victoria Jackson has to say. She has said Obama is a Muslim who has imposed Sharia Law on us—crazy stuff like that. Jon’s not like that. Jon is a good guy, he’s a funny guy, and he’s a strange guy. I was never angry about anything he said about me, so I don’t know where it came from. But it was his problem, not mine. I felt for Victoria because I don’t think she fit in on SNL. And I couldn’t work with her because we weren’t on the same page—ever. We weren’t even in the same book. We happened to be on the same show.
The whole thing is well worth a read and is a neat look behind the curtain, especially for those who grew up watching late ‘80s era SNL.