As it is, morning, afternoon, and late night talk shows are under intense pressure to maintain high ratings, and hosts and producers will often encourage crazy moments on air to rake in those views (i.e., the time Craig Ferguson became an American citizen on television, or the time David Letterman trolled Madonna about the men she’d slept with).
Given already, then, that drama is encouraged, it’s unsurprising to see things get a little bit out of control sometimes. From on-screen arguments to fully outrageous behaviour, pretty much anything you can imagine to have happened on talk shows has probably happened.
And sometimes, those events are hard to come back from. From the Jay Leno - Conan O'Brien ordeal to the several spats between Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels and various celebrities, there seems to be an abundance of celebrities who’ve been banned from some of America’s most famous talk shows.
While it might not come as much of a surprise that some of these actors have been banned from one talk show or another (i.e. Kathy Griffin), other actors on this list might surprise you. Read on for the 15 Stars You Had No Idea Were Banned From Talk Shows.
15 Gary Busey
Gary Busey first rose to prominence as Curly in the hit crime film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, starring alongside Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. A renowned method actor, Busey is well-known as an eccentric. In 1988, Busey suffered brain damage from a serious motorcycle accident where he was not wearing a helmet. Although he kept acting in box office hits such as Point Break and Under Siege, it was clear that some aspects of his personality had changed.
This was made clear in an interview on The Howard Stern Show, where Busey attempted to pick up Howard Stern, chased after the co-host, and jokingly— yet aggressively— got in people’s very personal bubbles. In the footage, everyone is laughing, but there’s definitely a weird vibe about it, and Busey was certainly never invited back.
14 Gilbert Gottfried
The ever-talented Gilbert Gottfried is nothing if not crude, inappropriate, and undeniably hilarious. Of course, though, when an actor/comedian markets themselves primarily for satire, dark comedy, and insult comedy, they are bound to offend or cause a stir once in a while. For Gottfried, this has manifested itself in two situations in particular, once when he made jokes about September 11 just three weeks after the attacks, and another time when he made jokes soon after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan.
It used to be that Gottfried would regularly appear on The Howard Stern Show, but since taking a joke too far by spitting on cupcakes behind the scenes while the cameras were still turned on, he hasn’t reappeared on the show.
You might be wondering how anyone could possibly ban THE Madonna from any talk show, ever. Along with being ridiculously talented and iconic, she’s so entertaining that talk show hosts should normally love that stuff!
Piers Morgan, however, did the unthinkable, when he stated publicly that Madonna was banned from his show. His reasons for doing so are extensive and rather vague, but allegedly include someone throwing bread at someone else, a bodyguard-photographer scuffle in Cannes, misinformation about breaking news on one of Madonna’s pregnancies, and Guy Ritchie.
Morgan has insisted that the only way Madonna’s ban would be lifted is if Madonna apologized on one knee, in a very public environment. Ouch. She must have really made him mad.
12 Piers Morgan
Rosie O’Donnell has long been an outspoken comedian and activist, most recently drawing attention for her cutting remarks about Donald Trump and, more so, for Donald Trump’s ridiculous Twitter vendetta against her.
On top of being a hilarious comedian and actor, O’Donnell is also a fiercely loyal friend, which is the reason for her banning Piers Morgan from her own talk show, The Rosie Show!
As reads the above entry, singer and actor Madonna was banned from Piers Morgan Live due to a series of occurrences, and since Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell are good friends, O’Donnell lashed back at Piers Morgan, stating that if he was going to ban Madonna from his show, O’Donnell was going to ban him from hers! Of course, she clarified that she did not actually have an official banishment list, but if she were to make one, Morgan would be on it.
11 Kelsey Grammer
It appears as though Madonna is not the only celebrity to be banned from Piers Morgan Live, though. Piers Morgan also slapped a lifetime ban on Dr. Frasier Crane, i.e. the polarizing yet ever-talented Kelsey Grammer. Morgan’s reason for the ban dates back to a time when Grammer did feature on Piers Morgan Live and the network showed a photograph of his ex-wife, Camille Grammer, after having been promised that the subject of their relationship, his philandering, and their subsequent breakup would not be discussed.
In response, Grammer walked off set before even appearing, earning his lifetime ban from the show.
At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t seem too dramatic, given that Grammer stated he does not care that he’s banned from the show, and that he doesn’t ever think about it.
10 Jay Leno
We all closely followed the strange Jay Leno – Conan O’Brien – NBC ordeal way back in 2010 that involved confusing miscommunication and switch-arounds, and resulted in both The Late Show and The Tonight Show seeing a dramatic fall in ratings due to the mix-up and drama.
At the end of it all, NBC was left embarrassed, and there was a certain tension or awkwardness between the two star talk show hosts, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien.
While neither star seems to enjoy discussing this unfortunate smear on their respective reputations, O’Brien did reveal in an interview with Playboy that he would hesitate to invite Leno on his show, Conan, although jokingly adding afterwards that as a musical guest he might consider it for high comedic value.
9 Martin Lawrence
NBC seems to have no qualms about banning talented celebrities from Saturday Night Live, and the hilarious Martin Lawrence is just one of many who have been banned by the network for inappropriate language that could risk a fall in the show’s ratings. In this instance, Lawrence was banned from the show for his inappropriate comments in his opening monologue in 1994, making reference to female genitalia, as well as for exclaiming in a sketch, “Shut up you ass pirate.” While this line was said, of course, in character, it was unscripted.
Fortunately for the network, the inappropriate monologue was successfully edited to take out the really unfortunate sounding parts, yet the inappropriate and unscripted wording during the sketch could not be removed in time.
8 Adrien Brody
Yet another celebrity to be banned from Saturday Night Live, Adrien Brody was removed from the list of potential hosts after his appearance in 2003, when he walked on stage to introduce Sean Paul, the Jamaican reggae musician, wearing fake dreadlocks and talking in a phony Jamaican accent.
On top of being hugely offensive for cultural appropriation, Lorne Michaels is also famous for absolutely hating when celebrities go unscripted on his show, giving reason to why Brody would be banned afterwards.
Despite the ban, the network had no trouble allowing Taran Killam to impersonate Brody on SNL in 2012, for a Gillette commercial sketch. So, while Brody may be banned from the show, apparently impersonators of the actor are more than welcome to give it a go.
7 Andy Kaufman
Given that we already know NBC abhors any sort of improvisation on Saturday Night Live, it should come as no surprise that unconventional actor Andy Kaufman was banned from the show by the show’s producer at the time, Dick Ebersol, in 1983.
The banning of Andy Kaufman was enacted in a dramatic way. Kaufman appeared on the show many times during the first season, contributing to the early days of Saturday Night Live, but his jokes and acting were unpredictable, and sometime inappropriate too. In 1983, Ebersol had had enough, and decided to make a show of it by asking the audience whether Kaufman should stay or go from the show. The final tally was 195,544 for taking him off the show, to 169,186 for keeping him on.
Sadly, Kaufman died just a year after this unfortunate event.
6 Vince Vaughn
While Vaughn himself was not banned from Ellen, he was certainly not permitted to promote his 2011 flop film, The Dilemma, because of his using “gay” in a derogatory way. This is obviously insulting to anyone who believes in gay rights, but especially to Ellen DeGeneres herself, who is openly gay. Not to mention that in the film, he is negatively commenting on electric cars. Who does that!?
In any case, Vaughn has since reappeared on Ellen’s show, and it seems that his old movie’s drama has been forgiven. Especially considering he did not use gay in the negative way as a person, but rather as an actor in a role. While DeGeneres never openly commented on the film or trailer, Anderson Cooper did, on Ellen, denouncing both the film and Vaughn at the same time.
5 Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers was first banned by Johnny Carson when he was the host of The Tonight Show. The ban was implicitly maintained by Jay Leno and finally broken by Jimmy Fallon in 2014 in his premiere episode.
The reason for Joan Rivers’ long-time ban stemmed from Rivers leaving The Tonight Show to take part in a Fox special entitled The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, which certainly did not last long. Previously a permanent guest host of The Tonight Show, this was a slight in Johnny Carson’s eyes, which led to her being banned from ever appearing on his show again.
Many have asked why Leno upheld the ban during his time. He claims that firstly it was upheld out of respect for his friend, Johnny Carson, but that after Carson died in 2005, Leno did not invite Rivers on the show because of how awkward the whole situation had become.
4 Kathy Griffin
Kathy Griffin, as someone whose focus genre is mainly dark comedy and observational comedy, focusing on subjects that are highly polarizing like LGBTQA rights, religion, and politics, is bound to offend at least a few people.
And boy, has she ever succeeded. From taking her clothes off on numerous occasions to making derogatory comments about various celebrities, Griffin has been banned from a whole host of Talk Shows, including but not limited to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The View, Ellen, Today, and The Late Show with David Letterman.
It’s surprising to see that Griffin has not been banned from Saturday Night Live, given the show’s strict rules on profanity. Granted, it could be that she has never been permitted to appear in the first place— although she has been impersonated on three separate occasions.
3 Chevy Chase
As a star in the original Saturday Night Live cast in 1975, Chevy Chase was one of the first stars on Saturday Night Live. He was also, however, the first cast member banned from the show— although the ban came long after he had left on his own terms.
After leaving the show after two years, Chevy Chase returned eight times to host Saturday Night Live. His eighth time hosting, however, saw his official ban from hosting ever again, when he hit cast member Cheri Oteri in the back of the head, and was subsequently reported by Will Ferrell to Lorne Michaels.
Although banned from hosting, Chase has returned several times for some small appearances. Although he allegedly maintains a good relationship with Lorne Michaels, Chase has never had his ban officially repealed.
2 Hugh Grant
How could anyone possibly ban the charming Hugh Grant? Well, Jon Stewart did just that, banning Hugh Grant from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart back in 2009.
Stewart’s reason for banning Grant is justified, however. According to Stewart, the famously charming and bashful British actor was actually rather rude when he appeared on the show, cursing, complaining, and generally annoying pretty much everyone on set. Fair enough.
Of course though, when confronted on Stewart’s comments way after the fact, Grant answered to the accusations in the most charming, Hugh Grant-ish way possible, by posting on Twitter, “Turns out my inner crab got the better of me with TV producer in 09. Unforgivable. J Stewart correct to give me kicking.” With that said, how could we possibly not forgive the old grouch?!
1 Steven Seagal
Another on the long list of stars banned from Saturday Night Live, actor and martial artist Steven Seagal was banned from SNL after his hosting gig in 1991.
Although it seems as though Seagal never did anything specific to merit the rather harsh ban, he was apparently very difficult to work with generally, and the crew highly disliked him. Despite the lack of specificity, Lorne Michaels has maintained, albeit jokingly in an interaction with Nicolas Cage, that Seagal was the worst host to ever appear on Saturday Night Live.
It’s a pretty harsh rating from Michaels, considering the number of celebrities who have been altogether banned from hosting SNL. Even so, given his eccentric tendencies, we’re not exactly surprised Seagal would rub some people the wrong way.
Do you think these celebs deserve their ban? Let us know in the comments!
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