Hot-selling pop singer Sinead O'Connor decided Wednesday to pull out of her scheduled appearance on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, saying she did not want to appear on the same program with guest host Andrew Dice Clay.
O'Connor's decision came two days after "SNL" cast member Nora Dunn announced that she would not appear on the show as a protest against Clay's comedy routines, which are laced with expletives and feature jokes about sexual violence that have been criticized as anti-women.
"It would be nonsensical of 'Saturday Night Live' to expect a woman to perform songs about a woman's experience after a monologue by Andrew Dice Clay," the 23-year-old O'Connor said in a prepared statement. "I feel it shows disrespect to women that 'Saturday Night Live' expected me to perform on the same show as Andrew Dice Clay."
Lorne Michaels, the producer of "Saturday Night Live," told The Times that O'Connor's decision was "unfortunate for us because we confirmed Sinead at the beginning of the year, and we're not asking her to endorse Andrew Dice Clay--we were merely asking her to sing two songs. What gets lost in all of this is that this is a comedian we're talking about."
Clay, whom a representative earlier had said would have no comment on Dunn's decision, could not be reached regarding O'Connor's action.
O'Connor, a Dublin-born singer who has both the No. 1 single and the No. 1 album on the pop charts, made her decision after spending the day listening to and watching tapes of Dice's performances in her New York hotel room. According to her publicist, Elaine Schock, the singer, who arrived in New York on Tuesday, had not been familiar with Clay's work and did not know that he had been booked as the guest host on the show until Monday, shortly after NBC announced that it had signed him.
"He was a late booking, she lives in the United Kingdom, and she had no idea what he was like," Schock said. The materials that O'Connor received on Wednesday were provided by a representative of Dunn, she said, after tapes that O'Connor had requested through her record company did not arrive in time. Shock also had been contacted by members of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women.
But, Schock emphasized, "Sinead made her own decision after looking at the tapes and being offended. That's the way she makes her decisions. She wasn't under any pressure from anybody, and she never talked to Nora Dunn."
Francoise Jacobson, president of the National Organization for Women chapter here, confirmed that her group had contacted Schock and Liz Welch, the talent coordinator for "Saturday Night Live."
"We expressed our dismay to the talent coordinator that they would choose such a misogynist as the host," Jacobson said in an interview. "His whole routine is based on negative and sexist and homophobic attitudes. There's a rising incidence of hate crimes on college campuses, and this kind of routine only adds fuel to the fire because it makes it more acceptable to hold women and gays in low regard."
"SNL" cast member Victoria Jackson said Wednesday that she would not be joining Dunn in her stance.
"I don't think that any cast member has the right to decide not to come to work based on the host's stand-up comedy," Jackson said. "Sam Kinison (who has hosted the show) makes fun of Jesus, and I didn't like that. But I don't think our contract with the show allows us to discriminate against the host. I think most people in the cast feel the same way, and I don't expect any other cast members not to show up."
Jackson, who co-starred with Clay in the recent movie "Casual Sex," said that she could see that Dunn "has a point" about some of Clay's jokes. But, she added, "he makes fun of everybody--gay people and black people and women--so how could you be offended? It's stupid to be offended."
Besides, added Jackson, "The skits on the show would never have been like his stand-up act--we're a network show."
In an interview on Monday with the Associated Press, Dunn said that she found Clay's popular comedy act so degrading and "hateful" that she did not want to help him promote his career through "Saturday Night Live."
"I don't want to be part of providing an arena for him to make himself legitimate because I don't think he is. Although I feel he has a right to express himself, I have a right to strongly state my position."
Producer Michaels told The Times that while he supported Dunn's right to make her decision, he thought she should have made her feelings known to him directly before speaking to the press.
"I thought it was perfectly admirable to follow her conscience, but it would have been nice if she'd made her feelings known to me and other cast members before going to the press," he said.
According to Michaels, talent coordinator Welch had told him Monday that Dunn had called her to express her unhappiness over the booking of Clay.
"I suggested that Nora come in to talk about it," said Michaels, who noted that the show had been on hiatus and going back and forth about hosts for the May sweeps shows.