Comedian Norm Macdonald’s appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon was canceled Tuesday after his comments about the #MeToo movement reportedly made the late-night show producers cry.
Macdonald’s comments about the movement sparked outrage after telling The Hollywood Reporter in an interview this week that he was pleased to see the anti-sexual harassment campaign had tempered off.
“I’m happy the #MeToo movement has slowed down a little bit,” the comedian told the Los Angeles-based magazine. “It used to be, ‘One hundred women can’t be lying.’ And then it became, ‘One woman can’t lie.’ And that became, ‘I believe all women.’ And then you’re like, ‘What?’ Like, that Chris Hardwick guy I really thought got the blunt end of the stick there.”
Macdonald also raised concerns about how movement had done away with the presumption of innocence. “The model used to be admit wrongdoing, show complete contrition, and then we give you a second chance,” he said. “Now it’s admit wrongdoing and you’re finished. And so the only way to survive is to deny, deny, deny. That’s not healthy — that there is no forgiveness. I do think that at some point it will end with a completely innocent person of prominence sticking a gun in his head and ending it. That’s my guess. I know a couple of people this has happened to.”
In an interview with radio shock jock Howard Stern Wednesday, Macdonald detailed how his comments ultimately led to his appearance on the late-night program being nixed.
The New York Post reports:
Macdonald said that he had arrived early at the late-night show to pre-tape a “True Confessions” segment with fellow guest Matthew McConaughey when “some people, from NBC or ‘The Tonight Show,’ I don’t know who they were,” stopped by his dressing room and questioned the prudence of doing that particular bit at this time.
Eventually, a “concerned”-looking Fallon himself stopped by Macdonald’s dressing room to ask, “How should we play this?” As Macdonald told Stern, “Part of the reason I love [Jimmy] is because he does nothing about the news. He’s just a song-and-dance man. He’s not a political comedian.”
Fallon and Macdonald agreed they would address his #MeToo remarks at the end of their interview, following some reminiscing about the late Burt Reynolds (whom Macdonald used to imitate on “Saturday Night Live”). After Macdonald rebuffed the producers’ idea to open the show with an apology, Fallon returned to say that he was feeling a lot of pressure from people, noting that some senior producers were “crying” over the idea of letting Macdonald appear on-air.
“He was very broken up about it, he didn’t want this,” the comedian told Stern. “Jimmy said, ‘Come back whenever you want, but I think it will hurt the show tonight,” to which Macdonald replied, “‘Jimmy, that’s the last thing I want to do, is hurt your show.’”
NBC said in a statement released Tuesday, “Out of sensitivity to our audience and in light of Norm Macdonald’s comments in the press… ‘The Tonight Show’ has decided to cancel his appearance.”
During his conversation with Stern, Macdonald expressed regret about how his remarks had been misconstrued. “I have great sorrow that people took it that way,” he said. “I’m totally behind the #MeToo movement. I never said that the victims didn’t go through anything. What I was saying was the reason to put Louis and Roseanne together to talk was because only a few people in the whole world have gone through this new thing where everything is stripped from them … I wasn’t saying that was way worse than what victims went through.”
“What the victims went through is horrible,” he added.