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Tina Fey and the 'SNL' cast on 'Oprah': Was John Belushi sexist?

SNL Yes, we know Tina Fey is superwoman these days, punching through that glass ceiling with her big, hairy man-arms, but during an all-star "Saturday Night Live" cast edition of "Oprah' on Tuesday, Jane Curtin said "SNL" wasn't always so proud of its female alums. Joined on stage by Fey, Chevy Chase, Dana Carvey and Tracy Morgan, Curtin blamed John Belushi for being tough on female writers.

"They were working against John, who said women are just fundamentally not funny," Curtin told Oprah. "You'd go to a table read and if a woman writer had written a piece for John, he would not read it in his full voice. He would whisper it. He felt as though it was his duty to sabotage pieces that were written by women."

Curtin said that resistance reflected what was happening far outside the writers' room. "Women's liberation happened in the '60s, and so women were going out into the workforce and challenging men," she said. "Well, it was not necessarily embraced by the male population — understandably so. They were threatened by the fact that there were all these women going out into the workplace and they were going to have to compete with them as well as the other men."

Fey, who's always been somewhat uneasy about critiquing things from a feminist viewpoint, says she didn't feel alienated during her time at "SNL." "By the time I got there, in that read-through room ... our director was a woman; one of our stage managers was a woman," she says. "The more women that were in the room to laugh at the different pieces, then [the more] people were like, 'Oh, OK, maybe we'll put it on.'"

Even some dudes insisted they'd done their part in supporting the sisterhood. "I did the Church Lady to increase gender diversity," Dana Carvey quipped. Actually, so did Oprah, in her own special way: We hope she loves that head-exploding "SNL" parody of her "Favorite Things."

--Melissa Maerz

Photo: Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Dana Carvey, Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase on "Oprah." Credit: Harpo Productions.

Comments () | Archives (6)

who cares if I was sexist? How sexist can I be if I let a woman give me an overdose?Leave me alone.

My Parents were impressed with this show in 1975... I was the only 18 year old on the block who stayed home on Saturday night just so I could see it... immagine a teen staying home on a Saturday night, but that was how good this show was... One of my favorites was the Francisco Franko things... I even have a Saturday night live script... from 75 or 6... the one where Fransisco Franko hosted...the killer bees... and land shark... and the best ever weekend up date...

Joebelushi- um, did you read the article? It clearly says that Jane Curtin was speaking about Belushi being sexist, Fey was recounting her experience and it had nothing to do with Belushi.

Sure, it could have been the residual effects of women's liberation, and how men felt their role in society was being threatened...OR maybe woman aren't that funny. There are a handful of female SNLers that I consider memorable (Fey not one of them, never found her that funny as a cast member), and honestly I can't think of one really funny female comedian.

I don't know if I believe Belushi was sexist, his wife was a writer who he supported in her endeavors. He also claimed Lucille Ball to be his favorite comedian. I have a hard time believing this, but who knows? But, I think it's rather disrespectful of her to speak ill of the dead. He's not here to defend himself and how do we know he'd be the same person he was back then? If he was sexist then maybe he'd be a completely and entirely different person now. She should just let the past stay in the past, regardless of how oprah digs for a story. I'd love to hear what belushi's widow has to say about jane's rude comments.

Also, wasnt John really really close with Gilda Radner? I remember reading that they were very close friends... Just thought I'd add that.
I'm disappointed with Jane Curtin, not because I'm a huge fan of Belushi or anything like that but because she's dredging up the past and speaking about a man who can't defend himself. I still would really really love to hear what his widow thinks of all this.


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