Adam Sandler made his triumphant return to Saturday Night Live this weekend, but the day before, another alum of the long-running variety sketch series revealed to Variety that he may have sustained a significant, life-altering injury during his time on the show. Chris Kattan, best known for playing Mr. Peepers and one half of the Butabi Brothers with Will Ferrell, is claiming that he broke his neck during a live broadcast in 2001. What’s more, he’s making it sound like NBC and the SNL team tried to downplay it.
In an excerpt from his new book Baby Don’t Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live, which Variety received a copy of, Kattan claims he may have broken his neck after purposefully falling from a “rickety chair” during the “MSNBC Investigates” sketch with Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz and Tracy Morgan. The fall was intentional, but Kattan ended up “landing hard on the stage, painfully hitting his head”:
“Even today, I still can’t open my hand wide enough to use my fingers normally on the keyboard,” he wrote [in the book]. “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.”
The SNL veteran added that he told executive producer Lorne Michaels and producer Ken Aymong, the latter of whom said they would “take care of it.” NBC supposedly paid for two of five surgeries that he would receive following the incident, but as Variety discovered, no one at SNL or NBC is willing or able to corroborate the comedian’s claims. “None of them could recall Kattan’s injury, even after they made their own internal inquiries to see if anyone else remembered it,” the report noted.
Even so, Kattan insisted that he’s telling the truth about what happened, both in the book and in his interview with the trade publication. “The SNL family I was part of had stopped taking care of me, and soon I wasn’t able to pay for everything myself,” he wrote. “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.”