For an actor, appearing on TV comedy and talk shows is an important part of the promotional process. So what did these actors do to get banned from them?
Buckle up — these outrageous stories of celebrity bad behavior will shock the heck out of you.
Martin Lawrence – Saturday Night Live
To enjoy the comedy of Martin Lawrence is to accept his outrageousness. From his standup, to his sitcom Martin, to, yes, the Big Momma’s House franchise, Lawrence is a bad boy of comedy.
But when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1994, he broke a little too bad.
In his opening monologue, Lawrence veered away from his prepared remarks, delivering an impromptu set about — how can we put this nicely? — “the inner workings of the female body.” It was so disgusting that SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels banned him, and the monologue was edited out of any reruns.
Vince Vaughn – The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Remember the movie The Dilemma? The 2011 Vince Vaughn/Kevin James comedy about whether to tell a friend about infidelity?
Maybe you’d remember it more if Vaughn was able to promote it properly. But because of a homophobic joke he made, he was banned from one popular talk show.
In the original trailer for The Dilemma, Vaughn makes an insensitive joke about electric cars. Ellen DeGeneres, offended, banned Vaughn from appearing on her daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. And The Dilemma super-flopped. Since then, Vaughn has made up with DeGeneres and appeared on her show.
Jay Leno – Conan
If there’s talk show drama, look for Jay Leno at the center.
After stealing The Tonight Show slot from the more probable choice, David Letterman, Leno stole it back from his successor, Conan O’Brien, just one year into the run.
Naturally, O’Brien had some thoughts on this.
When O’Brien moved to TBS to host his own late night show, the simply named Conan, he had one rule: Leno will never be a guest. O’Brien was firm about this, even publicly turning down any hypothetical amount of money he’d be given for such an interview.
Steven Seagal – Saturday Night Live
As producer of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels has met a lot of famous people. And he’s worked with them all, with the very specific goal of producing a live 90-minute sketch comedy show.
And of all these famous people, only one deserved the title of Worst Jerk Ever.
That’s right: Ponytail-sporting martial arts eccentric Steven Seagal.
Throughout his episode’s production, he behaved in incredibly odd and upsetting ways. He made the cast and crew so annoyed and on edge, they almost just did a show without a host. Instead, they suffered through, but Seagal got banned.
Kelsey Grammer – Piers Morgan Live
Hey baby, I hear the blues are calling tossed salads and… talk show bans? When Frasier star Kelsey Grammer was booked to appear on Piers Morgan Live, Piers Morgan featured a picture of Camille Grammer in the opening credits.
One problem: Kelsey and Camille had just gotten a bitter divorce.
Grammer asked Morgan if they could remove the photo from the opening credits sequence. Morgan, standing his ground, refused to take her out. So Grammer, standing his ground, walked off-set before giving the interview. And Morgan, giving a masterclass on ground-standing, banned Grammer for life.
Andy Kaufman – Saturday Night Live
On the very first Saturday Night Live episode, influential postmodern comedian Andy Kaufman performed an iconic bit where he lip synced to the Mighty Mouse theme song. From that point on, Kaufman appeared several times to crush on SNL. Until his surprising ban.
Like everything else in his short life, Kaufman’s ban was part of a truth-bending bit. SNL had an on-air phone hotline where viewers could call and vote on this issue: Should Kaufman be banned from SNL? Viewers overwhelmingly voted yes. Kaufman, of course, honored the ban, never appearing again.
The Kardashians – Anderson Live
Anderson Cooper had successfully conquered the CNN airwaves. Where could he take his silver fox charms next? Why, to a daytime talk show, of course.
Anderson Live debuted in 2011. And before he had anything else set, he knew one guest who wouldn’t be allowed. Or, more accurately, one family.
The Kardashians. You know them, you love them, you gotta keep up with them. But they weren’t welcome on Cooper’s show.
When he appeared on Watch What Happens Live, Cooper explained that the Kardashians are already everywhere, so he has nothing new to say to them, so why have ‘em?
Adrien Brody – Saturday Night Live
So you’re the youngest man to have ever won the Oscar for Best Actor. And now, you’re taking a victory lap by hosting Saturday Night Live. A question: What’s the quickest way you could absolutely screw it up? If you’re Adrien Brody, the answer is clear: Being racist.
During Brody’s 2003 performance, Jamaican-born reggaeton artist Sean Paul was the musical guest. To introduce him, without anyone’s knowledge, Brody donned a dreadlocks wig. Then, he busted out his best Jamaican accent.
It was, needless to say, very racist. Lorne Michaels banned him ever since.
Madonna – Piers Morgan Live
There’s an infamous Late Show With David Letterman episode where Madonna swears up a storm, makes all kinds of adult jokes, and even gives Letterman a pair of her underwear.
But she wasn’t banned from Letterman’s show. For whatever reason, she instead earned the ire of Piers Morgan.
Morgan has constantly belittled Madonna publicly, with no response from her. And when she made a new Twitter account in 2012, Morgan responded to it, reminding the singer she was still banned from the show. Why, exactly? Morgan may never tell.
Gilbert Gottfried – The Howard Stern Show
With his trademark scream-talk and controversial jokes, comedian Gilbert Gottfried seems like a perfect guest on The Howard Stern Show, hosted by the notorious shock jock. And for awhile, he was, appearing several times. Then, mysterious circumstances led to an abrupt ban for Gottfried.
Why is he banned? No one knows for sure. Some theorize it’s because of a bit gone awry where he spit cupcakes on the floor. Some think it’s from a bizarre on-street interaction he had with Howard Stern’s wife. And some think Gottfried’s personality just stopped meshing with Stern’s.
Joan Rivers – The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
For decades, Johnny Carson was the king of late night. His Tonight Show was a cultural phenomenon, influencing comedians to this day. Joan Rivers was a regular guest host on Carson’s show, and Carson loved her to pieces. Until one bit of show biz drama wedged them apart for good.
In 1986, Fox gave Rivers her own late night show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. It aired opposite Carson, which devastated him. He banned her and refused to speak to her for the rest of his life. Jay Leno continued the ban when he took over the Tonight Show.
Gary Busey – The Howard Stern Show
We know what you’re thinking. “Gary Busey did something strange? How frightfully shocking!”
And yes, the enthusiastic actor has been more famous for his bonkers behavior than his work lately. But on one episode of The Howard Stern Show, he went too far.
Busey was, naturally, acting erratically. And Stern was surviving as a sparring partner. But then, Busey grabbed Stern’s cohost Robin Quiver in a bear hug, before trying to wrestle Stern himself. So, Stern banned the heck out of him.
Later, Busey blamed the incident on a separate personality living within himself.
David Bowie – Saturday Night Live
Who on earth would ban David Bowie? The guy’s a rock and roll legend, an enchanting screen presence, a true space oddity. But as Bowie learned in 1997, even space oddities need to respect the domain of SNL producer Lorne Michaels.
Michaels booked Bowie to play “Telling Lies,” his most recent single. Michaels also asked specifically if Bowie wouldn’t play “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps),” as it reminded him of some dark times.
Bowie, of course, played the offending song, and Michaels banned him for three years.
Hugh Grant – The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
When we think of English acting icon Hugh Grant, we think of two words: “Terribly sorry.”
In films like Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, he made an impact as a politely stammering gent. However, he apparently was quite rude to another screen icon.
Jon Stewart’s run on The Daily Show changed TV and politics forever. And when Grant appeared on the show, he acted very high maintenance toward the influential host, and outright rude to the show’s staff. Stewart had no patience for Grant’s behavior, and banned him with no apology.
Bobcat Goldthwait – The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
On a 1994 episode of The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, comedian Bobcat Goldthwait set the couch on fire. Typically, talk show guests sit on couches, not set them on fire. But the distinctively-voiced Goldthwait was anything but a typical guest.
Goldthwait’s banishment was swift. He was fined over $3,000 for the stunt. He was forced to record public service announcements about fire safety. And he was banned from Leno’s show… for exactly one week.
Then, he reappeared in a self-deprecating bit, where Leno buried him up to his neck.
Harmony Korine – Late Show With David Letterman
Ever see a Harmony Korine movie? You’d know if you have — the filmmaker’s movies, like Spring Breakers and Gummo, are eccentric, to say the least. And whenever he appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman, he confused the host with his eccentric antics.
It wasn’t any of his onscreen performance art bits, marked by short, clipped sentences, that got him banned. Letterman seemed to actually enjoy playing around with Korine on screen. But when he stole from fellow guest Meryl Streep’s purse backstage one visit, that was the last straw. Banned!
Kathy Griffin – Like, All of Them
In 2017, firebrand comedian Kathy Griffin earned a metric ton of controversy when she posted pictures of herself making a bold and bloody political statement. But that wasn’t Griffin’s first dip into the pool of “too far.”
You simply won’t believe how many talk shows she’s been banned from.
So far, she’s been banned from Leno, Conan, Ellen, The View, Live With Regis and Kelly, The Today Show, and Letterman. Wow and yikes and holy cannoli!
In one moment of redemption, she did reappear on Letterman in 2012… and proceeded to tempt fate by taking her clothes off on-air.
Chevy Chase – Saturday Night Live
Yeah, that’s right. One of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live can never host Saturday Night Live again.
Chevy Chase always had a controversial reputation, even during his original run. And like any good comedian, when he came back to host in 1997, he heightened.
Production that week was intense. Chase pitched several sketches that were profoundly upsetting, and regularly yelled at the cast members. The final straw: He slapped Cheri O’Teri “as a joke,” and Will Ferrell told Michaels immediately. Chase is now banned as a host, but still makes non-hosting cameo appearances.
Howard Stern – The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
The King of All Media hates the King of All Denim.
Howard Stern and Jay Leno, two hosts whose shows couldn’t be more opposite, had a longstanding feud. Stern regularly accused Leno of plagiarism and lying. And when Stern actually appeared on Leno’s show, the gloves came off even further.
Leno’s Tonight Show run was marked by gentleness. Stern… is not.
So when he brought some adult film stars out during his interview, and actually interrupted other guests’ interviews with more outrageous antics, Leno banned him. What’s more, NBC, Leno’s network, publicly slammed Stern.
Jackie Mason – The Ed Sullivan Show
In the 1960s, being invited to the Ed Sullivan Show meant you had arrived. Put it this way: American Beatlemania didn’t begin until their performance on the show. Celebrated comedian Jackie Mason developed a regular relationship with host Ed Sullivan, appearing several times — until one fateful misunderstanding.
Mason was performing a set on a 1964 episode. Sullivan gave Mason a hand signal that he only had two minutes left. Mason gave some kind of playful hand gesture — Sullivan thought it was a middle finger. So, he banned Mason. And it ruined Mason’s career until an on-air apology years later.
Howie Mandel – Piers Morgan Live
While they were co-judges on America’s Got Talent, Piers Morgan and Howie Mandel did not get along (are you sensing a pattern with Morgan?). Mandel, putting his roots as a high-energy comic to use, often pranked Morgan.
But Morgan got the last laugh.
Some of Mandel’s pranking shenanigans involved moving a soda machine directly in front of Morgan’s dressing room door. Others involved… let’s call it “a machine that imitates the sound of passing gas.” So when Morgan returned to his own talk show, he banned Mandel in retaliation.
Sandra Bernhard – Late Show With David Letterman
Outspoken, tough-talking comedian Sandra Bernhard used to appear all the time on Late Night with David Letterman, the show that followed Johnny Carson from 1982-1993. But when Letterman moved to the Late Show on CBS, he stopped inviting Bernhard to be on. What happened in the move?
Bernhard’s theory: Letterman thinks she was trashing him among their mutual show biz circle of friends. In fact, that was a question he asked her the last time they spoke in person. Bernhard said no, but Letterman apparently didn’t believe her, because she never once appeared on his CBS show.
Vivica A. Fox – Jimmy Kimmel Live!
In 2005, Kill Bill actor Vivica A. Fox appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote her new Lifetime show. Host Jimmy Kimmel, who got his start on controversial comedy shows like The Man Show, used the opportunity to try some jokes about Fox’s friend, The View host Star Jones.
The jokes were… not very sensitive. And Fox got so angry that she left mid-interview, not to return. Kimmel had to do immediate crowd control — he still had a show to do! Kimmel then vowed he would never have Fox on again. We don’t think Fox is complaining.
Oprah Winfrey – Late Show With David Letterman
Wow. She’s arguably the biggest name in broadcast television. And he wouldn’t have her on?!
Oprah “You Get A Car” Winfrey and David “You Get A Top 10 List” Letterman feuded for over 25 years, with Winfrey refusing to come on Letterman’s show, and Letterman taking potshots at her.
Apparently, it came from a Paris prank where Letterman duped Winfrey into having to pay for his dinner (but, like, can’t she afford it?). Thankfully, Winfrey and Letterman have since made up, appearing in a Super Bowl ad together (with Jay Leno, too!) and guesting on each other’s shows.
Artie Lange – The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien
Here’s a rare ban that came from love, not hate. When Conan O’Brien hosted the Tonight Show, he had on a longtime friend: the infamously hard-partying comedian Artie Lange. But Lange’s bizarre behavior on the episode forced O’Brien to act dramatically.
During his interview, Lange slurred his words. Spoke in rambling, incoherent sentences. And seemed to be exhibiting behaviors of one who’s under the influence of illicit substances. In response, O’Brien banned Lange from the show until Lange vowed to become clean and sober.
Milton Berle – Saturday Night Live
Milton Berle is so important to television, his nickname is literally Mr. Television. His work is the reason we take TV comedy seriously. He even invented the idea of a “celebrity roast,” thanks to his founding of the Friars Club. It would make sense to have him host SNL. Until…
He wrestled control over the episode from Lorne Michaels. He added old comedy bits to sketches, unannounced. He mugged shamelessly to the camera. And he made the audience give him a standing ovation for an earnest jazz performance. He was banned, and Michaels refused to air the episode in reruns.
Robert Blake – Saturday Night Live
In 2001, Little Rascals and Baretta star Robert Blake’s wife Bonnie Lee Bakley was killed. In 2005, Blake himself was accused of pulling the trigger. He underwent a lengthy, scandalous trial, but was found not guilty.
All of this… is NOT the reason he was banned from Saturday Night Live.
Granted, Blake hosted the show in 1982, well before he even met Bakley. But during the episode, he had a vicious temper, insulting cast members left and right. An incident crumpled up a script and threw it at a writer was the last straw.
Bill Hicks – Late Show With David Letterman
Bill Hicks is one of stand-up comedy’s most celebrated figures. His routines are provocative, smart, and most importantly, hilarious. So what could he have said on a 1993 episode of the Late Show With David Letterman to get himself banned, and his segment not even aired?
Billy Ray Cyrus.
You know, the “Achy Breaky Heart” and “Old Town Road” singer? Hicks made some silly jokes about him. And Letterman was so offended, he banished Hicks. After Hicks died just one year later, Letterman had his mom as a guest, apologized for the incident, and aired the segment.
Charles Grodin – Saturday Night Live
Deadpan actor extraordinaire, Charles Grodin was used to making Midnight Runs. So why his run into late night sketch comedy skid out so severely? Grodin should’ve crushed his 1977 Saturday Night Live episode. Instead, he did… something else.
You can’t say he didn’t make “a big choice.”
Charles Grodin, SNL host wanted to play “Charles Grodin, SNL host,” a meta character who is “bad at hosting SNL.” He deliberately forgot his lines, pitifully ad-libbing his way through bombing sketches. And he kept pretending he didn’t know the show was live. Lorne Michaels was like, no thanks! Banned!
Louise Lasser – Saturday Night Live
Best known for her 1970s soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Louise Lasser had a downright miserable time hosting Saturday Night Live. And frankly, it shows! The opening monologue is delivered by Lasser locked in her dressing room — which Lasser actually did. But that’s not all she did.
Lasser had strange contractual stipulations. There were only two types of sketches she agreed to be in: Either with Chevy Chase, or by herself. In fact, if it came down to it, Chase was ready to perform her parts wearing a wig. Lorne Michaels had no choice — she was banned.
‘The Facts Of Life’ Behind The Scenes: 25 Little-Known Things About The Iconic 80s Sitcom
It’s been a while since we’ve had traditional, wholesome shows like The Facts Of Life. We all watched as Blair, Jo, Natalie, and Tootie navigated the tricky ups and downs of growing up – but things weren’t so wholesome behind the scenes. Disturbing tales have come up since the show aired.
TV Stars Who Were Suddenly Replaced Mid-Series By Other Actors – And People Weren’t Happy
Ever turn on a TV show only to discover that your favorite character has morphed into a completely new person? Unfortunately, this happens quite often, sometimes with actors getting fired mid-series due to conflicts behind the scenes. As popular as these shows were – these abrupt switcheroos threw people for a loop.
The Mob Boss Who Inspired ‘The Godfather’ Was Actually A Lot More Dangerous In Real Life
As exhilarating as it is to watch The Godfather, there’s nothing enjoyable about the real-life characters who inspired it. Gangsters were real people, vicious and dominant — and one of their supreme leaders was once Frank Costello. He was the inspiration behind Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone in The Godfather, but the true story behind this mob boss is far less humanizing.