Comedian Chevy Chase says some harsh quotes about "Saturday Night Live" attributed to him in a new interview were meant to be off the record.
"These were things I didn't want Lorne [Michaels, the show's creator and longtime executive producer] to have to hear because he's a good friend and this was off the record," the "SNL" founding member, 74, told Newsday following publication of a Washington Post story in which Chase criticized his former show.
Chase had prefaced comments about the current iteration of the NBC late-night sketch series, which begins its 44th season on Sept. 29, by asking for them to be "maybe off the record," to which reporter Geoff Edgers responded in the article, "Maybe off the record? A microphone and digital recorder sit in front of him."
"That was shoddy," Chase says of the off-the-record comments being published. Edgers did not respond to Newsday requests for comment. Chase allowed that Edgers kept "plenty" of other off-the-record comments out of the story.
In the article, Chase is quoted as saying, "First of all, between you and me and a lamppost, jeez, I don't want to put down Lorne or the cast, but I'll just say, maybe off the record, I'm amazed that Lorne has gone so low. I had to watch a little of it, and I just couldn't . . . believe it."
He added, "That means a whole generation of . . . laughs at the worst" humor possible. "You know what I mean? How could you dare give that generation worse" jokes "than they already have in their lives? It just drives me nuts."
Chase had no dispute about his telling Edgers of "SNL," "I'd have to say, that after the first two years, it went downhill." Chase, a three-time Emmy Award-winner for acting and writing, left the show shortly into its second season in 1976. "Why am I saying that? Because I was in it? I guess. That's a horrible thing to say. But certainly I never had more fun. I really loved it and enjoyed it. I didn't see the same fun thing happening to the cast the next year."
While praising his former ensemble stars Dan Aykroyd, whom he called the "funniest guy on the show, almost the leader," and Gilda Radner, as well as a successor star, Dana Carvey, Chase called popular former star Will Ferrell "just not funny. Makes $25 million a picture." He finds Eddie Murphy's lampoon of the old children's show character Gumby "funny and people loved that," but said of the African-American Murphy's Stevie Wonder impersonation, "It's not that hard. . . . Your skin's the same color. You just put on some sunglasses and do this."
An NBC spokeswoman had no comment.