Saturday Night Live: Why Catherine O'Hara Bailed On Season 6
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Well, folks, it seems that contrary to popular misconception, you don't need a series of offensive tweets or to be a Chevy Chase-level a-hole to leave Saturday Night Live on less-than-stellar circumstances – just ask actress and SNL-non-starter Catherine O'Hara.
Now, my SNL-obsessed friend, I know what you may be thinking – “Moira Rose? I don't remember her ever being a part of the main cast of the show?" Firstly, Congratulations! Your memory hasn't been destroyed by decades upon decades of smoking mediocre ‘70s and ’80s weed! Woo hoo! Secondly, although O'Hara was originally cast on the show’s sixth season, she quit before she ever made it to the small screen, dropping out to accept a role on NBC's competing comedy show Second City TV, a factoid she told the New Yorker she was “not proud of.”
"We were doing SCTV, and then we thought Andrew would have a deal with SCTV, that we’d finish that run, and then he had no deal," explained, O'Hara, who got her start at Second City Toronto, referencing Andrew Alexander who ran the comedy troupe. With Second City TV seemingly laid to rest in the graveyard of dead TV programs – the same one where Diablo Cody's ultra-cursed Powerpuff Girls reboot probably lies – O'Hara was presented with yet another opportunity – a highly-coveted slot on SNL's sixth season.
“I got called for Saturday Night Live. I went. It was in the summer. They were just starting to write the next season,” she continued. “Then Andrew called. He had a deal with NBC, same network.” Considering O'Hara's long-running ties to Second City, the star was faced with a tough decision, forced to choose between the iconic comedy show and her Second City community, the latter ultimately winning out. “I had to go to the producer and say, ‘I’m sorry, my family needs me,’” she continued. "‘My family is calling.’"
Although O'Hara ultimately managed to smooth things over with the SNL showrunners, going on to host the show twice in the 1990's, it seems the actress's decision to leave the cast may have also served as a testament to just how crazy it was around 30 Rock in the early days of the show, according to former SNL writer/talent producer Neil Levy.
“Dick told me that if I could get Catherine O’Hara to come to New York, he would let me stay on,” Levy explained in 2015's Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests. “It was sleazy. But I thought, ‘Well, I can do it.’ So I went and asked Catherine O’Hara. She wasn’t really interested. But I talked to her and she came down. Then she saw the flaming Viking ship going under and she went, ‘Uh-oh, gotta run,'" he explained.
So folks, take it from O'Hara – When it comes to Saturday Night Live, sometimes Schitt happens.