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40 years of controversy: SNL's top 4 off-set disputes
Forty years after its inception, Saturday Night Live is still one of the most talked-about comedy shows on TV. This year's three-hour anniversary featured some of the big-name greats like Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy and dozens of others, and it was ultimately very well received.
An Opinion Outpost poll with just over 2,000 respondents noted that 31 percent of people thought the show was awesome, 19 percent said it wasn't bad and just 3 percent didn't like it. The remaining 47 percent of people didn't tune in.
While there's nothing but jokes, gags and laughter in front of the camera, it's a much different story behind the curtains. The SNL cast has been part of some heated disputes throughout the decades. Here are five prime examples.
1. Norm MacDonald hosts after being fired
Rarely do disagreements backstage spill over and play out in front of the camera, but that's exactly what happened after deadpan pro Norm MacDonald was fired from the cast and then asked back on to host the show in 1999. When the lights came on and Norm stepped out to start the show, he cut right to the chase.
"When they asked me to do the show, I felt kind of weird," Norm said in his characteristic mellow drawl. "I don't know if you remember this, but I used to be on this show."
He continues to give a play-by-play of how he was fired and explained that he was asked back not because he became funnier but because the show had gotten really bad.
2. John Belushi sabotages the women
It may not seem like comedy legend John Belushi had one ill-tempered bone in his body - even if he did accidentally hit a cast member in the head with a samurai sword on one occasion - but some female cast members have actually reported that he tried to sabotage them back in the early days.
"Their battles were constant. They were working against John, who said women are just fundamentally not funny," former cast member Jane Curtin said, according to The Huffington Post. "So you'd go to a table read, and if a woman writer had written a piece for John, he would not read it in his full voice. He felt as though it was his duty to sabotage pieces written by women."
3. The Martin Lawrence monologue
There aren't many people that have been banned from ever appearing on SNL again. Martin Lawrence is one of them, and it's because of his first ever appearance. As a host, Lawrence started the show with a monologue that quickly turned awkward when he brought up a bit about feminine hygiene. After the first live taping, a graphic replaced the monologue and described how Lawrence almost cost the entire cast their jobs.
4. Chevy Chase lets fame go to his head
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Chase was one of the rising stars of the early SNL cast, but after starting as a writer and quickly exploding into stardom, he reportedly became very mean in his dealings with other cast members, according to The Washington Post. He's been criticized by Bill Murray, Laraine Newman and Will Ferrell, among others, for his poor attitude, according to the news source, and even Chase himself called his former self arrogant and narcissistic. All of this lead to a major falling out between one of the show's iconic characters and virtually everyone else in the business.