A Longtime ‘Saturday Night Live’ Producer Recalls Some Guests’ Violent Threats That She Had to Defuse
If you worked at 30 Rockefeller Plaza during the 1990s or 2000s, you understood one unspoken truth – if Lorne Michaels buried a body, Marci Klein brought the shovel.
The prolific television producer and daughter of underwear magnate Calvin appeared on yesterday’s installment of David Spade and Dana Carvey’s Fly on the Wall podcast, a show that regularly shares insider info on Saturday Night Live’s behind the scenes brawls and blow-ups. While many of SNL’s altercations and ass-kickings are the stuff of legend (such as the infamous scuffle between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase,) Klein and her hosts discussed some of the donnybrooks that didn’t materialize – mainly because Klein diffused the situation. “Marci puts out fires,” was Michaels’ reported saying of the head of his show’s talent department.
Despite her extinguishing expertise, it doesn’t seem likely that Klein would have been able to stop Steven Seagal from doing something spectacularly stupid if Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped onto set that fateful Saturday night.
On the topic of the craziest hosts Klein ever worked with, Carvey immediately mentioned Seagal as one of Klein’s strangest assignments as the show’s talent manager. When the star of both Under Siege and numerous sexual assault allegations hosted SNL in 1991, Seagal immediately cemented himself as one of the worst hosts in the show’s history with his humorlessness, his obnoxious macho posturing and his visual discomfort over performing in front of a live audience. Klein recalled the difficulties she had simply getting Seagal to hit his marks on set, let alone read a line with any levity.
Carvey recounted the read-through for the infamous episode in which his “Hans and Franz” sketch struck a nerve with the stern action star – Carvey had a line in the scene that went, “Arnold could beat you up you know, your buttocks are like marshmallows.” Seagal, ever fragile, allegedly stewed over the insinuation that his ass was fluffy and white for two days before exploding during rehearsal the Thursday before showtime. According to Carvey, Seagal barked, “I just wish Arnold was here so that I could kick his fucking ass.” Klein and the crew calmed Seagal down, then the SNL staff rewrote the line to read, “You’re stronger than Arnold!” to mend his hurt feelings.
Spade also drew the ire of some insecure celebrity guests when the buttrock band Stone Temple Pilots appeared on SNL in 1993, leading to a near-assault that had to be averted by Klein’s crisis management skills. Spade admitted to making the joke, “Stone Temple Pilots? I liked them the first time I saw them when they were called Pearl Jam,” which incensed the California alt-rock band to the point where Spade had to hide in the upstairs offices as they stormed around the studio looking for his un-kicked ass. Klein came to his rescue and pacified the musical guests.
Spade said to his savior, “I always pictured you with a cigarette going *puff* ‘Listen, I’m going to go talk to them, but do not come downstairs, don’t come down to 8, stay on 17, we’ll figure this out.’” If Klein had also saved him from appearing in The Ridiculous 6, then he’d really owe her his life.