“I’ll do it as long as I possibly can. I think that there will be a day when I’ll look at it and say I don’t have the edge I used to,” said Lorne Michaels today about his future at Saturday Night Live. A seasoned and cool operator, the late night executive producer of course did not say when that day might be and if it would be related to his taking over The Tonight Show next year. In fact, Michaels didn’t say a lot about the Tonight Show Tuesday at a Comedy On TV luncheon hosted by the Hollywood Radio and Television Society on Tuesday in Beverly Hills. Of course, that’s what was on everyone’s mind now that Michael’s protégé Jimmy Fallon has formally been tipped by NBC to take over the show next year. Michaels’ one Tonight Show comment was about the plan to move the show back to New York after over 40 years out in Burbank. “Jimmy’s from New York, the show appeals to New York, I think New York is different from when Carson left and New York was on its ass,” the soon-to-be Tonight Show EP remarked. Fellow Canadian and former SNL regular Martin Short moderated the sitdown with the multiple Emmy-winner and past and future ruler of late night. “It worked out that way,” Michaels joked when Short asked if he really ruled late night. Michaels’ recent appointment as the upcoming Executive Producer of The Tonight Show means he is in control of NBC’s 11:30 PM slot six of the seven nights of the week.
Related: Lorne Michaels: The Real NBC Late Night King
“It’s more than a thrill to be here, it’s a contractual obligation,” quipped Short at the beginning of the chat between the two. The duo actually started the afternoon off talking off about how Michaels deals with tragic events like the shooting at Newtown and 9/11 –a topic all the more relevant after Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing. “Broadcast has an obligation to be present and connect with what’s gong on,” Michaels told Short. “You’re dealing with something way bigger than you can comprehend and then there’s comedy and showbiz,” he added noting why he doesn’t lose perspective of the power of being funny. After a career history, the two got to talking about talent and what Michaels looks for in the people he’s gotten behind like Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon. “You’re always looking for them to have to have that something. The second thing that you look for is are they serious. Will they put in the hours?” Michaels noted.
Michaels easily deflected Short’s questions if the business had changed since SNL went on the air back in 1975 as well as if his personal politics influence what are on the show. “I think we are meant to be non-partisan. I think we are meant to be the opposition,” the SNL EP told Short of the political coverage on the show. Michaels said that politics, celebrities and everything else are fair game to SNL but there is one exception. “We don’t attack our own and I made a mistake with David Spade and Eddie Murphy,” said Michaels about occasions when the show had the former mock the later over a string of less than stellar box office results. Asked if he has gotten a thicker skin over the years, Michaels responded after a moment with a half laugh and a “I think my capacity for outrage has diminished.”