‘SNL’ Women Past and Present Defend Al Franken in Sexual Harassment Statement
The ongoing cycle of sexual harassment exposure has repeatedly put SNL in an awkward position; one the show seems reticent to address. In light of accusations against writer-turned-senator Al Franken, however, thirty-six female cast and crew have now spoken out to defend Franken’s name.
It was only last week that broadcaster Leeann Tweeden named now-Minnesota Senator Franken among the growing list of Hollywood offenders, as Franken was photographed groping her in her sleep, and allegedly rewrote a USO tour sketch to force a kiss between them. Franken quickly moved to apologize, something Tweeden even seemed to accept, though the situation may now be exacerbated by the new statement from three dozen SNL players. It should be noted that only former cast members Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman signed the statement, which calls Franken “a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant.”
We’ve printed the full list of names alongside the statement, for context (h/t Boston Globe):
We feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on Saturday Night Live (SNL).
What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms Tweeden, and to the public. In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant. That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard.
We send our support and gratitude to Al and his family this Thanksgiving and holiday season.
1. Jill Baylor, Production Assistant,1991-92
2. Shannon Gaughan Bowman, Writer, 1988-89
3. Beth Einhorn, Script PA,1987-1988
4. Cindy Caponera, Writer, 1995-98
5. Jane Curtin, Not Ready for Prime Time Player, original cast, 1975-80
6. Tracy Cooper Drippe, Script PA/ Script Supervisor,1986-1991
7. Suzy Drasnin, Production Staff/Photographer,1986-90
8. Juli Pari Frankel, Script PA, 1984-1985
9. Julia Fraser, Script Supervisor, 1978-1985
10. Tara Gardner, Writers Assistant, 1990-95
11. Iris March Gross, Broadway Video/SNL 1977-1985
12. Marcy Hardart, Assistant to Lorne Michaels, 1987-1990
13. Lori Jo Hoekstra, Writer’s Assistant/Weekend Update Producer, 1990-1998
14. Sheila Kehoe, Costume Dept, 1976-82
15. Marci Klein, Co-Producer, 1989-2014
16. Franne Lee, Costume Designer, 1975-80
17. Laila Nabulsi, Schiller’s Reel 1975-79; Associate Producer, 1985-1986
18. Laraine Newman, Not Ready for Prime Time Player, original cast, 1975-80
19. Mary Ellen Mathews, Show Photographer, 1993- present
20. Cristina McGinniss, Assistant to Lorne Michaels (25 years);Broadway Video, 1979 – present
21. Marilyn Suzanne Miller, Writer, 1975 -1994 (intermittently)
22. Dinah Minot, Associate Producer, 1985-1989; Co-Producer, Broadway Pictures,1989-96
23. Evie Murray, Assistant to Lorne Michaels & consultant, 1983-1994
24. Sarah Paley, Writer, 1979-80 (& The New Show 1981-82)
25. Sandra Restrepo Considine, Script Supervisor/PA – 1987-1993
26. Suzanne Rosenberg, Coordinating Producer/Weekend Update, 1983-2003
27. Suzanne Ross, Script PA, 1991-1993
28. Karen Roston, Costume Designer, 1975-1983
29. Mary Salter, Film Producer, 1977-1987
30. Claire Shirey, Script Coordinator, 1982-present
31. Rosie Shuster, Writer, 1975-1980; 1984-88
32. Kiki Kazanas Steele, Script PA/Script Supervisor, 1985-1990
33. Pam Thomas, Consultant, 1980s
34. Bonnie Turner, Writer, 1986-1993
35. Christine Zander, Writer, 1987-1993
36. Liz Welch, Talent Coordinator, 1981-89
It’s tiring to reiterate that victims of harassment and abuse need attention and support far more than Franken, or any other offender’s reputation, but it’s also past-time SNL recognized its own hand in providing a platform to abusers. The program briefly poked fun at Franken with Saturday’s “Weekend Update,” but hasn’t fully grappled with a parade of now-toxic names in its recent history; from Donald Trump (and Alec Baldwin) to Louis C.K.
A complicated issue for those personally close to Franken, yes, but did SNL err in rushing to the senator’s defense while new accusations emerge? What should we make of current cast’s absence from the letter? Watch the “Weekend Update” segment below.
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