Originally created 06/17/04

Creator of 'Saturday Night Live' gets Mark Twain prize for humor



WASHINGTON -- Lorne Michaels, a Canadian-born comedy writer who created "Saturday Night Live" and produced "Wayne's World," "Tommy Boy" and other movies that showcased its stars, will be awarded one of America's top comedy prizes.

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, awarded annually by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, will be given to Michaels at an awards ceremony in Washington on Oct. 25.

Michaels, 59, has won 10 Emmys as a television writer and producer. The most recent came in 2002 when "Saturday Night Live" was awarded the Emmy for best writing in a variety/comedy series.

"His creation, which has become an American icon, along with his work on film and on Broadway, has provided this nation with some of its greatest comedians," Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser said in a statement announcing the award Tuesday.

A Toronto native, Michaels moved to Los Angeles in 1968 to work as a writer for NBC's "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." Seven years later he moved to New York to begin "Saturday Night Live," which over the years has featured a pantheon of comics including Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Eddie Murphy, Dana Carvey, Chris Rock and Will Ferrell.

Al Franken, the comedian-turned-political activist, was a performer and writer for the show.

Michaels also serves as executive producer of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and has produced specials with such stars as Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Flip Wilson and The Rolling Stones.

The previous winners of the Mark Twain prize are Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart and Tomlin.

On the Net:

Kennedy Center: www.kennedy-center.org