Saturday Night Live’s legendary producer Lorne Michaels was a candidate to produce Conan O’Brien‘s ill-fated Tonight Show when it made its debut last September, but O’Brien’s team reportedly declined, in what show biz insiders say was a crucial mistake.
Michaels “could have helped Conan navigate the stormy political waters at NBC,” a source told the NY Daily News. “He, obviously, is extremely well-respected there.” Despite that report, the Daily News also quotes a rep for Conan who said that “no one ever suggested to Conan that Lorne be a producer.”
O’Brien and Michaels have ties dating back to 1988, when Michaels hired O’Brien as a writer on SNL.
“Lorne could have given great counsel on his show creatively,” the source said. “I think Conan and his team know that passing on the opportunity to have Lorne be a part of the show was a big mistake.”