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How Lorne Michaels Achieved a Net Worth of $500 Million

Lorne Michaels

It's never been easy to keep things quiet when you're working in the entertainment industry, but it's become even more difficult to do so now that everyone has smartphones and literally everything is recorded practically every second of the day. The fact that all of this stuff ends up getting circulated endlessly on social media certainly doesn't help matters, either. Despite that fact, there are a few people that work in the industry who have somehow managed to keep their personal lives well, personal. One such individual is Lorne Michaels, a very successful television screenwriter who doesn't particularly tend to enjoy being in the spotlight. He has a staggering net worth of $500 million, leaving a lot of people wondering exactly how he's managed to achieve such a level of wealth. Since there was very little known about him, it's largely been a mystery up until now.

Work Ethic Defined

One of the reasons that Lorne Michaels has accumulated such a staggering net worth is the fact that he has an outstanding work ethic, one that he's been perfecting since the late 1960s. As a matter of fact, he graduated college with an English major in 1966. Almost immediately upon graduation, he went to work for a popular radio program based in Canada, CBC Radio. It didn't take more than a few months before he started being noticed for his writing talent. Shortly thereafter, he began writing for popular Hollywood shows of the time, after moving to the city. Eventually, he was writing for shows like “The Beautiful Phyllis Diller” and “Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.” In 1975, he helped create a show for NBC called “NBC's Saturday Night.” You might know it better as “Saturday Night Live.” To date, he has more than 70 films and television shows to his writing credits. This includes continuing to write for “Saturday Night Live” for decades after its creation. Obviously, that fact alone is going to generate a significant amount of his net worth, considering the fact that the show has continued to air non-stop since its creation. It's also immensely popular, meaning that long-time writers like Michaels receive a significant amount of pay for their work. When you add in the fact that he is a co-creator of the show, it only stands to reason that he has more leeway when it comes to deciding certain factors about the show itself, such as how much people get paid. In short, he was in the right place at the right time and he helped create what is now known as one of the most iconic American television shows in existence, one that is aired in various places around the world. That being said, he still has more than 50 other credits to his name, all of which he is paid royalties on each and every time they are aired.

The Business Side of Things

Michaels is definitely no stranger to understanding the business decisions that go into things in the entertainment industry. In 1979, he started his own production company called Broadway Productions. Just two years later, that very same production company began producing “Saturday Night Live.” The show is still produced by the same company to this day. Of course, that means that he gets additional funds from the airing of the show. It's not just about the material that he writes. He has a genuine stake in the success of the show because it's his production company that handles everything. As long as the show remains successful, that means more money in his bank account. It should go without saying that this isn't the only show that he produces, either. As a matter of fact, his production company is also involved with two other popular shows that air relatively late in the day, “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night.”

Notable Projects

There is no doubt about it, Michaels has been involved with a number of notable projects over the years. He has over 40 titles to his credit in television alone. Among those, he has executive produced such notable projects as “Portlandia” and “30 Rock,” among others. When it comes to films, he also has a rather long list associated with his name, although the majority of films that he's worked on are not as widely recognized. The one exception is “Mean Girls,” a film that was widely shown in cinemas back in 2004. Nevertheless, he has been able to add to his net worth through the sheer number of films that he has been involved with, even though the overwhelming majority of them didn't see a great deal of success. As a matter of fact, when all is said and done, it's estimated that his annual salary is approximately $30 million. That’s definitely nothing to be ashamed of.

The thing that most people can take away from this is that every project you're involved with doesn't have to be immensely successful in order for you to make money from it. Obviously, the financial success and notoriety that come from a widely successful project is helpful, but a series of projects that only achieve a medium level of success can end up contributing significantly to the amount of money you can eventually make. There is no question that a good chunk of Lorne Michaels’ net worth comes from his more successful projects, but if it weren't for everything else, that net worth would still be a great deal less than it is today. One reason that he's been involved in so many projects is because he loves being creative and he enjoys getting involved with new things. For him, it's about staying active and remaining interested in the world around him. Being involved with new projects is just one way that he expresses those interests. It's also allowed him to enjoy a lifestyle that very few people ever get the chance to experience.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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