Lorne Michaels Honored as Cannes Lions Entertainment Person of the Year

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Lorne Michaels

The 'Saturday Night Live' producer received the festival's inaugural entertainment award.

As the Cannes Lions festival has morphed from an ad confab to the festival of creativity, it honored Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels with its first Entertainment Person of the Year honor. Michaels took to the stage in the Grand Palais to accept the prize.

"I've been thinking about what I could add to the discussion about creativity that you've all been having for the past four days. In my experience at SNL, there really could be no creativity without structure and boundaries. Every week we go from a blank page to on the air in six days, never knowing for sure what the final show will look like," he said.

Michaels jokingly thanked the crowd of ad execs for the time it gives the show between skits. He said the first directive he had from NBC when he boarded the network in 1975 was opening titles, nine commercial breaks and closing credits. "It looked like freedom, but actually it was a trap," he said. "You use commercials to get your message across. We use commercials to change sets, costumes and wigs. From the very beginning our fates have been intertwined."

He said that in the time the show has been on the air the media business has changed, but those 30-second spots have played a key part. "We really don't know what we're doing from day to day. As we approach our new season in the fall, I don't know who our hosts or our musical guests would be. I've learned to live with that," Michaels continued. "In 44 years, the whole world has changed, but for SNL one thing has stayed the same: Those commercial breaks have always been the backbone of our show, and we really appreciate that."

NBCU has had a large presence at the festival, premiering Bradley Whitford's show Perfect Harmony. Michaels is set to take the stage Friday to speak about the changing media business.