A group of former female staffers spoke anonymously to Business Insider in a brand-new expose about a workplace culture at SNL that enabled an environment that was routinely uncomfortable, incredibly sexist, and at times unsafe. The staffers, who feared reporting incidents to HR out of fear of consequences, worked at the long-running sketch comedy show from the 1990s to the mid-aught season. According to the women, the widespread culture went unchecked because there was an implicit understanding there would be nowhere to turn.
The women recalled that Lorne Michaels was known to have a roster of young, attractive female assistants nicknamed “the Lornettes” and then-head writer Tina Fey would at times make jokes that crossed the line. The complaints span at a time when luminaries like Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Tracy Morgan, and Horatio Sanz were cast members.
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Several of the staffers said male members of the then-cast and staff would hook up with female college-age interns at post show parties. Despite having a reputation for debauchery, SNL’s post-show parties were a place where young girls were often seen. Jerry Minor, cast member during the 2000-2001 season, said he remembered feeling disturbed by the sight of what he described as “obviously teenage girls” at SNL after-parties. Minor noted some appeared to be fans and others were wealthy socialites. Minor recalled:
“The Hilton sisters would show up. I remember knowing they were underage. They’d get a table. I know they’re rich, but this can’t be right. Nobody gave a s**t. Nobody cared.”
One former staffer who interned at SNL during the 1999-2000 season before being hired full-time recounted the time cast member Horatio Sanz followed her into a bedroom party and asked to touch her breast. Another recalled the time when an associate producer called her into his office to show her a nude photo of himself. A lawsuit has been filed against Horatio Sanz by a former 17-year-old fan accusing Sanz of sexual assault in 2002. The plaintiff often went to SNL tapings and attended after-parties as Sanz’s guest. Eventually, the plaintiff said, Sanz did sexually assault her at a party in May 2002 in the presence of other NBC employees. The woman suing Sanz told The Daily Beast in a February report that Sanz “didn’t abuse her in a vacuum, but all over Saturday Night Live.”
NBC Universal and Horatio Sanz declined to comment. Tina Fey has not responded to a request for comment.