Former Saturday Night Live star and Dancing with the Stars contestant Chris Kattan claimed in his new memoir that he broke his neck during a sketch in 2001 and was nearly paralyzed.
In Baby Don’t Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live, the 48-year-old claims the injury happened during the May 12, 2001 episode, during a sketch in which he fell back in a rocking chair. He hit his head, landing hard on the stage.
According to Variety, Kattan said he still suffers side effects from the injury.
“Even today, I still can’t open my hand wide enough to use my fingers normally on the keyboard,” Kattan wrote in the book, which comes out on Tuesday. “The impact that my injury and subsequent surgeries had on my career was immense, but more importantly, the fallout proved to be devastating to some of the closest relationships in my life.”
Kattan later told Variety that he told SNL creator Lorne Michaels and producer Ken Aymong about the injury, and was told they would "take care of it." Michaels suggested a doctor for the injury, and Kattan said NBC paid for two of the five surgeries he needed.
Michaels and NBC did not offer comments on Kattan's claims. Variety also spoke to several insiders, including staffers Kattan mentioned by name, but none of them could recall Kattan's injury. Kattan himself could not provide proof that NBC knew about the injury, and Variety could not get a hold of Kattan's surgeon.
Kattan claims he got hurt during a MSNBC Investigates parody about kids who re-enact The Golden Girls. He claims he thought falling backwards on the chair could be dangerous and asked for a new one, but a replacement did not come. Kattan admitted he did not take the injury seriously until a year later, after speaking with his chiropractor. At that point, NBC's lawyers told him it was too late to get workers' compensation.
Kattan told Variety he wishes he had spoken up about the situation, and has felt "marginalized" by the SNL family since he left in 2003. He noted he was not invited back for the SNL 40th anniversary special.
“I think everyone has their own complicated relationship with the show. But whenever I go back to visit everyone opens their arms and are so sweet. It’s a different energy than when it was when you are in the cast," Kattan told Variety. "It’s healthier. For some reason moment you leave and you come back to visit or come back guest spot, Lorne and everyone, they miss you a great deal. And you miss the show. That’s one of the healthiest relationships you should have with the show, when your trial is done.”
After SNL, Kattan picked up guest roles on The Middle and How I Met Your Mother, and was in Sharknado 5. He also voiced a character in Hotel Transylvania 2 and was a contestant on DWTS in 2017. He first mentioned the neck injury on DWTS, but waited until now to come forward with the details.
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