I WAS A TEENAGE LORNE MICHAELS
(Or, be careful what you wish for)
by Anonymous

Ah, the quick gratification of the Internet. It can bring the world to your fingertips- want a DVD player and 5-speaker surround system? Poof, it's here, only a cool grand...how about some octosquid sushi with little red eggs on top? There you go, flown in fresh from Japan, one serving for only eighty-five dollars. The web has the dubious, double-edged pleasure of providing instant service while instantly draining your bank account.

But once in a while- say, once in a lifetime- the internet drops something free in your lap. At first it was free...then I realized, to quote Herman Hesse, "The price of admission is your mind."

Here is my cautionary tale.

Eight months ago I began to receive, for no apparent reason, emails from NBC television. My address must have gotten mixed up with someone else's, or some flack pasted the wrong information in his Outlook program. I got mailings two or three times a month; some included Powerpoint charts for meetings scheduled at later dates. Most of it was too rarefied to understand, but once in a while something interesting would pop up. I was getting the vicarious thrill of reading the proprietary information of a major television network. So, NBC's redesigning their logo? That looks nice. The date and phone number for a high-level conference call? Nah, sounds kinda dull. Cross-marketing projects for a year's worth of TODAY shows....hmm, looks interesting, even if I don't understand a word of it.

Eventually some assistant at NBC made the wrong assumption that my email address was that of Lorne Michaels, the legendary producer of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE...and I began occasionally receiving messages of a more, ahem, personal nature. At first I didn't respond- only read them, chuckled to myself and hit the delete button. I'd never dream of choosing hosts or picking guests for a TV show! But they kept coming, and then I noticed the little slug at the bottom of each correspondence-
 

Because e-mail can be altered electronically,
the integrity of this communication cannot be guaranteed.
 

In other words...what have I got to lose? My integrity?

The temptation finally became too great- and I began to answer them. I'm sure Lorne Michaels is a very busy man; if I could take a little weight off his shoulders he'd be free to do other things- like sleep late, play golf or buy cocaine. I wouldn't do anything too weird, like try to book my musician friends on SNL...I'd just confirm information already in the mailing.

I present the emails to you in sequence, from January 11th to the 17th. All names have been xxxxxx'd out to protect the jobs of the gullible flacks involved.

___________________________________

Subject: Music question

Hi Lorne. I know you just spoke with Mxxxx - she asked that I send you an e-mail with a quick question.

Are you going to want Don Henley? If so - his people are pushing for

February. We think Feb. 24 should be Shelby Lynne. She's a Grammy nominee and a critics' favorite. She is doing Leno and Rosie in January, but we still feel that she'd be a good booking.

Thanks,

Mxxxxxxx
 

(I don't particularly like Don Henley- but my friend Pat does, and I'm sure she would enjoy seeing him perform on television. So I answered, in a firm but brief manner.)

____________________________________

Subject: Re: Music question

Go with Don-

LM

(A response came back in five minutes.)

____________________________________

Subject: Re: Re: Music question

Hi. I just called Don's people and now they want February 17th or March 10th. What are your thoughts?

Mxxxxxxx

____________________________________

Subject: Re: Re: Music question

17 Feb. sounds good to me.

LM
 

(February 17 did have a nice ring to it, and 'Don's people' did need to know right away... I got an answer immediately.)

____________________________________

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Music question

Great - then how about Shaggy on Feb. 24th?

Mxxxxxxx
 

(I didn't know who Shaggy was- but I always liked Scooby-Doo as a kid, so anyone named Shaggy was okay with me. I told her to "run with it". A few days later, this next email arrived.)

____________________________________

Subject: Mar. 10 Show

Hi Lorne -

Conan wants to host March 10. He prefers a non-work week so he can "focus on hosting." We're afraid that he'll be offended if we don't make the offer for 3/10 or at least give him a YES or NO. We really need to give him an answer today - what do you think?

Mxxxxxxx

(I thought Conan was being a little pushy, so I decided to push back).

____________________________________

Subject: Re: Mar. 10 Show

If Conan feels he needs the prep time, Mar. 10 is fine.

But he better be funny.
 

(There. That'll shrivel that smarmy little Irishman's shelaleh.)
 

By now, I was feeling the heroin surge of undeserved, unbridled Moloch-like control. This was the ne plus ultra of that hallowed phrase 'all of the power and none of the responsibility'. Where should my tentacles reach next? My significant other begged me to book dancing poodles as the next guests. Someone else wanted me to sell the proprietary info to another network, which I would never do- I didn't even save it. A coworker told me to get in touch with Michael Moore and help him 'stick it to the man' at NBC.

However, after the next round of emails, I started to feel a little differently.

____________________________________

Subject: Mar. 10 Show

Ok - I'll make the offer to Conan for March 10.

Mxxxx made an offer to Mike Myers for the 500th show (3/17).

Mxxxxxxx
 

____________________________________

Subject: Re: Mar. 10 Show

Mike Myers sounds great...

God, 500 shows, no wonder my hair is gray.
 

LM

(I thought that sounded authentic...gosh, I hope the guy HAS hair!
This is getting to be a lot of responsibility.)
 

____________________________________

Subject: 500th music

Hi Lorne. Here's the latest: Aerosmith needs an answer tomorrow regarding March 17th. We think it would be a good idea for the 500th because of their association with SNL. This would put them next to Don Henley, which can't be helped. We can book them for April, but by then they will have been on all the other shows. If we book them in March they will have been on the American Music Awards and on the Superbowl (performing one minute excerpts of three songs). We lose them completely if we don't give them an answer tomorrow.

So that's the story on Aerosmith. Let me know what you think.

Mxxxxxxx

____________________________________

Subject: 500th music
 

Go with the 500th.....Myers and Aerosmith will be great together.
 

LM
 

Okay, after that email I started getting nervous. Mike Myers? Aerosmith? These people were famous. Not just 'Shaggy famous' - real famous, with real contracts, real concert schedules, real lawyers and real lawsuits. However innocent, fraud is a crime. I could be sued, I could lose my home, my kid, my job...The Moloch-like creature I built- like all good monsters- was wrapping its tentacles around me in a legal stranglehold.

I decided to come clean, confess everything and hope the nice people at NBC would understand. Should I email them and apologize? No, it could be turned around as an admission of guilt. Perhaps I should call Mxxxxxx directly- or go see her- and explain my predicament. After all, she'd probably lose her job if anyone found out. No, I can't involve an innocent person or cost anyone their job!

In the end, I decided to take the coward's way out- when the next email arrived, I slunk back into the primordial ooze of anonymity where I belonged.

____________________________________

Subject: Re: Music question
 

I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong address.

Please check your address book.
 

yours truly,

xxx xxxxxx
 
 

Yes, it was a week of excitement. I enjoyed my brief tenure as Executive Producer of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, with all that talk of 'my people' and 'your people' and making snap decisions that affect the careers of the rich and famous- but I was a nervous wreck. 'All the Power' might sound good on paper, but I'm glad it's over. Like some of my past relationships, it was short but memorable....and at least this one didn't leave a nasty rash!
 

Anonymous