Chris Kattan is claiming he broke his neck during a live taping of “Saturday Night Live.” In an exclusive excerpt from a new memoir published by Variety, the former “SNL” cast member alleges the injury almost paralyzed him, led to a years-long struggle with drug addiction, and torpedoed his career. The comedian claims the injury took place during a May 12, 2001, episode during a sketch called “MSNBC Investigates.” Kattan mentioned an injury during a stint on “Dancing With the Stars,” but this is the first time he is alleging it took place during filming “Saturday Night Live.”
“Even today, I still can’t open my hand wide enough to use my fingers normally on the keyboard,” Kattan wrote in the memoir, titled “Baby Don’t Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live.” “The impact that my injury and subsequent surgeries had on my career was immense, but more importantly, the fallout proved to be devastating to some of the closest relationships in my life.”
Kattan told Variety that SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels and producer Ken Aymong knew about the accident. He also said that NBC paid for two of the five surgeries he had in the years following. A spokesperson for NBC declined to comment beyond saying the network had no record of any claim. SNL insiders and those close to production staff could not corroborate any record of the injury or such claims.
Kattan claims he hit his head after falling backwards from a chair during the sketch. He said he did not feel pain at first, and ignored the injury for a year. When he finally looked into filing for worker’s compensation, his lawyers told him it was too late.
“NBC had stopped paying my medical costs after the second surgery,” Kattan wrote. “The ‘SNL’ family I was part of had stopped taking care of me, and soon I wasn’t able to pay for everything myself. But I never really fought for myself or demanded anything. I never thought about the potential legal ramifications of what had happened to me on the set and what was happening now. I had been brought up to be responsible for myself. I wasn’t about to sue anybody. I never wanted to be that person: spending my life debilitated and fighting a network. I wanted to hide everything, pretending I was okay and in good enough shape to be go out in public and be social.”
Kattan left “SNL” in 2003 after a seven-year run, but said he has felt sidelined by the show since then. For example, the actor wasn’t invited to perform on the gala 40th anniversary “SNL” special.
Read Variety’s full report here.