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"Saturday Night Live" helped Lindsay Lohan's career take off, and this weekend she'll look to the show to help pick it back up again. But it will be her first time hosting the show minus her friend Tina Fey as "SNL" head writer, possibly making for a different kind of night.
Lindsay Lohan was 17 when "Mean Girls," written by Fey, was released on April 30, 2004. In it she plays a clever teen trying to navigate the savage jungle that is high school, and displaying a somewhat magical combination of maturity and vulnerability.
The very next day Lohan made her first appearance as host of "SNL," where Fey was working as head writer. She earned some laughs for her portrayal of a buxom Hermione in a "Harry Potter" sketch, and was part of Rachel Dracht's unveiling of Debbie Downer.
Fey and Lohan chummily made the talk-show circuit together, and it was clear a sincere friendship was developing.
But over the next several months, Lohan was hounded by paparazzi, dated Wilmer Valderama, saw her weight drop precipitously, was hospitalized with a kidney infection and recorded an album.
Lohan returned to "SNL" in December 2004 as a surprise guest, coming out during Fey's and Amy Poehler's Weekend Update. The pair gave Lohan a good-natured ribbing during the broadcast for her "Mischa Barton arms."
A couple of years later, it came out that the duo actually gave Lohan a serious off-screen talking to, concerned over her increasingly apparent hard-living ways.
“They sat me down,” Lohan told Vanity Fair in 2006, “literally before I was going to do the show, and they said, ‘You need to take care of yourself. We care about you too much, and we’ve seen too many people do this,’ and I just started bawling. I knew I had a problem and I couldn’t admit it.”
But Fey left "SNL" after the 2005-06 season, to start her own hit sitcom, "30 Rock," about a woman who's the head writer at a comedy-variety show filmed in same building where "SNL" is based.
Lohan stopped hosting. Instead, the show on more than one occasion made Lohan's reported issues their target. Emma Stone in 2010 played a dazed Lohan who was allowed out of the Betty Ford Clinic to make an appearance on "The View."
It was around the same time that Fey appeared on "Watch What Happens," where host Andy Cohen asked for her thoughts on Lohan's stint in rehab.
"Lindsay is in rehab now? Right? We think? I think that's good [that she's in rehab]. Yeah," Fey responded, adding, “[Lindsay’s] so great, and such a beautiful girl, I hope she gets well.
Now six years removed from her last "SNL" stint, Lohan's acting career has come close to bottoming out. In the past year she's been to jail and rehab, been kicked out of community service and been cast and uncast in films about porn star Linda Lovelace and mobster John Gotti.
But since December, things have looked up just a bit, as Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Saunter praised the actress' newfound commitment to her rehabilitation.
“Ms. Lohan, you have actually done the work, and done it not only on time, but early,” Saunter told her. ”You’re doing well and I’d like to see you continue.”
On the upswing, she reached out to "SNL"'s producer, Lorne Michaels, and begged him for a chance to host yet again, she said.
"I'm really lucky because Lorne Michaels has been really supportive," Lohan told Matt Lauer of "Today" earlier this week. "I actually emailed him and started harassing him to meet with me."
Lohan's "Saturday Night Live" performance this week might not save her career, but it has the potential to kill it. Here's hoping "SNL" is as good to Lohan as it's always been.