‘Saturday Night Live’: Why Lorne Michaels Didn’t Cast Rosie O’Donnell as Steve Bannon

Kelly Woo
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Saturday Night Live has experienced a major resurgence this season in both ratings and buzz, thanks in no small part to the comedy they can mine from President Donald Trump and his administration. The show has spawned a slew of viral videos with sketches starring Alec Baldwin as Trump and Melissa McCarthy as press secretary Sean Spicer — and when the Twitterverse started suggesting that Rosie O’Donnell play Trump adviser Steve Bannon, it seemed like kismet. But it didn’t happen.

In a new interview in The Hollywood Reporter, SNL star Leslie Jones explains that the show’s head honcho, Lorne Michaels, nixed the idea of O’Donnell as Bannon: “I asked Lorne, ‘How come y’all aren’t bringing Rosie O’Donnell in or any of them to do it?’ And he was like, ‘When you’re playing a character, you can’t play it from hate. You have to play it from funny, because when you play it from hate, it looks like you’re just being mean.’ I love Rosie to death, but he might have been right on that one.”

Instead, SNL used Mikey Day — disguised in full Grim Reaper gear — to portray their version of Bannon.

O’Donnell has a long, acrimonious history with Trump, who has called the actress and TV host “a total loser” and a “pig,” among other insults. So it’s no surprise that she eagerly raised her hand (via Twitter) when fans suggested she take on Bannon for SNL.


She even changed her Twitter avatar to a fan-made image of herself as Bannon:


But at the end of the day, SNL isn’t going to crowdsource its sketches. “We’ve gotten a lot of pitches from people, big people, like, ‘I can play this person on the Cabinet, or I can play this person,’” producer Lindsay Shookus tells THR. “It’s in the vein of Melissa and Alec and Larry David, and it’s never happened before. We got a lot of Kellyanne [Conway] and [Steve] Bannon pitches. But the casting has to make sense. You don’t want to make a splash to make a splash. That’s not what we do.”

Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. on NBC. Watch clips and full episodes of SNL for free on Yahoo View.

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