Whatever Happened To Cheri Oteri?

Where has actress Cheri Oteri gone? Well, let's first look back at how she got her big start.

In 1995, Saturday Night Live needed a change, and the comedy show cleaned house, firing or releasing almost all of its cast, including stars like Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, and Mike Myers. When the show returned for its 21st season later that year, a slew of talented newcomers joined the late-night institution, including master impressionist Darrell Hammond, goofball superstar in the making Will Ferrell, and the versatile, kinetic Cheri Oteri. 

A veteran of the Groundlings comedy troupe, Oteri made a huge impression in her five years on SNL via recurring characters like Arianna, one of the enthusiastic Spartan Cheerleaders, and pharmacy rat Collette — and that's not even mentioning her popular over-the-top impression of TV journalist Barbara Walters. Unlike many other members of the SNL new guard — like Ferrell, Molly Shannon, and later addition Tracy Morgan — Oteri didn't become the huge star of movies and TV shows she appeared poised to become. Simma dahn nah, and read about what Oteri has been up to.

A 'Scary' story with an unfortunate ending

The makers of Scary Movie set out to make a parody of all those late '90s teen-oriented horror movies, such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and the Scream franchise. It wound up becoming a pop cultural phenomenon in its own right, spawning four sequels and leading to a resurgence in the "parody movie" not seen since the early '90s heyday of those Naked Gun movies. The lead actress in Scary Movie became a bonafide Hollywood star who holds that status to this day ... and that person was Anna Faris. 

Cheri Oteri also had a major role in Scary Movie, portraying the tough and driven reporter Gail Hailstorm, a direct and obvious send-up of Courteney Cox's Scream character, Gale Weathers. While that 2000 film should have been enough to guarantee Oteri at least some work in a major film franchise for years to come, it didn't — the themes and parody subject of each subsequent Scary Movie changed. There was no need for Gale Weathers in Scary Movie 2 or 3, so there was no need for Cheri Oteri either.

Her jump from little screen to big screen, well, missed

In the first couple of years after Oteri's SNL departure, and then after the successful first Scary Movie with which she was associated, Oteri was in high demand in Hollywood — as just-off-SNL SNL standouts usually are. Oteri landed roles in two very high profile, and very anticipated movies ... and in a stroke of bad luck, both of those films ended up as two of the most poorly received movies of the decade. In 2003, Oteri played devious cafeteria worker Mrs. Heller in Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, the prequel to Dumb and Dumber that lacked the star power of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. The movie b ombed with audiences, raking in a fifth of the box office haul of the original, as well as with critics —it enjoys a woeful ten percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Oteri's next major film, Southland Tales (2006), a confusing series of interconnected stories set in the future written and directed by Donnie Darko mastermind Richard Kelly, did even worse. It made just $275,000 in theaters, which means very few people saw Oteri's performance of a character named "Zora Carmichaels."

Cheri shares her voice

Oteri's face isn't on screen as much as some other ex-SNL cast members, but she gets a lot of work for her voice acting abilities. That's a mighty fine place for a versatile comic performer to wind up, as doing her time on Saturday Night Live and with the Groundlings gave Oteri the skills to play a ton of different characters in a variety of projects on the big and small screens. 

Among Oteri's widely disparate voice roles were Sleeping Beauty in the blockbuster Shrek the Third, one of the few humans in the CGI-animated insect-oriented hit The Ant Bully, Blobsnark on HBO's cult comedy The Life & Times of Tim, and Kristy on TV Land's animated comedy Glenn Martin DDS. More recently, she's become an in-demand voice actor on shows and movies for little kids, including Puppy Dog Pals, Bunsen is a Beast, and The Adventures of Bunny Bravo.

She's tonight's special guest star

Not everyone from SNL can be a star, and not everyone from SNL becomes a star. For every Eddie Murphy, there's a Chris Kattan that burns brightly than fades away, or, for every Kristen Wiig, there's a Finesse Mitchell, still plugging away at the standup circuit or showing up in bit roles and character acting work. Cheri Oteri falls into the latter camp, but hey, making a living as an actor even if you're not headlining movies is still a great way to spend one's time on Earth. 

Almost immediately after leaving SNL in 2000, Oteri settled into the world of guest starring on television, appearing on cult hits like Strangers with Candy, Emmy darlings like Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the not-at-all-dated Ally McBeal. More recently, the crowded world of Peak TV has provided lots of opportunities for recognizable performers like Oteri — you might have seen her on CBS's short-lived sitcom 9JKL or Ryan Murphy's horror comedy Scream Queens, as well as Ryan Murphy's sitcom The New Normal and TV Land's Hot in Cleveland.

Tracy Morgan kind of hates her

Comedy often operates on a club-like system, with collectives of actors populating one another's projects. For example: the "Frat Pack" of Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Owen Wilson, or how former Groundlings Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone round out the casts of their movies with as many Groundlings as possible. SNL is probably the most illustrious comedy club of them all, with relationships forged in those late-night trenches leading to long-term work arrangements. For example, Tina Fey's old SNL castmates like Rachel Dratch and Chris Kattan popped up on 30 Rock (which starred Tracy Morgan and frequent SNL host Alec Baldwin), and Adam Sandler's movies are an excuse for him to hang out with David Spade and Rob Schneider. 

However, if your former cast mates seem to hate you and proclaim that in public, it's probably not going to lead to a supporting role in their big summer movies. In his 2009 memoir I Am the New Black (via Entertainment Weekly), Morgan calls out Cheri Oteri (and Chris Kattan) for disrespecting him and being rude at SNL. "Where's Cheri Oteri now?" Morgan wrote. "That b**** can't even get arrested." 

When Morgan recorded the audiobook version, he went off script and expanded on his thoughts on former SNL cast members (via Gawker). "There were people that treated me beautifully, like Will Ferrell and Colin Quinn and Molly Shannon — I love them. But Cheri Oteri and Chris Kattan — I never cared for them either. F*** 'em."

Live from New York… it's not Cheri Oteri

The television event of the 2014-15 season, SNL 40, was a full night of primetime that celebrated 40 years of Saturday Night Live. Old sketches played, cast members spoke about their time on the show, and some even revived their famous recurring characters. Pretty much everybody who ever worked on SNL showed up for the all-star gala, even Eddie Murphy, who had been angry with the show since David Spade called him a "falling star" on a '90s SNL episode. Cheri Oteri, a major part of the show for five years, was certainly invited, but she neglected to attend the evening of reminiscing. Considering the potential celebrity networking that could result from her appearance, we have to wonder ... why would she drop the ball like that?

"To be fair, I have to say that I wasn't originally able to go," Oteri told Andy Cohen on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live. She doesn't say what, exactly, prevented her from going, but added "and then just a couple of days ago, I was able to pull it together." Still, she didn't have enough time to get to New York, and so she didn't attend, which was probably not a good move for her career.

She contracted Jennifer Grey disease

Hollywood is a brutal place, particularly for women of a certain age who are encouraged to look as young as possible for as long as possible. In order to do so, cosmetic surgery is always an option. But the irony of getting some facial alterations is that it changes what a person's face looks like, which is the point ... but it can be a bad thing. Sometimes surgery goes beyond a subtle change — take Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey, who went in for a nose job in 1989 and emerged looking like a completely different person because she no longer had her distinctive nose. "I went into the ­operating room a ­celebrity and came out anonymous," she told The Mirror, adding that without her famous face she struggled to book acting gigs.

Oteri's appearance has changed so significantly since her SNL days that there's speculation she's had some work done — work that made Cheri Oteri no longer "look like" the familiar and cast-able Cheri Oteri of yore.

She starred on lots of TV shows that barely existed

As much as Cheri Oteri works and has worked, she's also starred in a number of projects never widely seen by anybody outside of Hollywood. Oteri has had the fortune of being cast in a number of promising TV show pilots ... that all failed to get a full-season pick-up from the TV networks. Her big, breakout, post-SNL project could have been one of those shows, the way Andy Samberg landed Brooklyn Nine-Nine or how Amy Poehler headlined Parks and Recreation

Among Oteri's roles in almost-shows were a reporter for a small California TV station in Loomis (2001), a part of the ensemble for another show set at a small TV station on With You in Spirit (2003), and a school principal on Stephen's Life (2005). 

In 2002, one of Oteri's shows did make it to the air, although barely. She starred opposite SNL colleague Colin Quinn on The Colin Quinn Show, a sketch comedy series which was canceled after just three episodes.

There are more Oteris out there

Cheri Oteri is still obviously kicking around Hollywood herself, but she's also proudly promoting and ushering in the next generation of her family line into the entertainment business. At the 2018 Academy Awards, host Jimmy Kimmel starred in a bit wherein he talked about how excited he was to introduce the cast of the latest Star Wars film ... but how the person who'd be really excited would be his nine-year-old self, because he was a huge Star Wars fan back in the day. And so, through the magic of time travel, or excellent casting, Kimmel brought out "nine-year-old Jimmy Kimmel" for the bit. Portraying the future talk show host: a nonplussed, funny young actor named Nicholas Oteri. It turns out he's the nephew of Saturday Night Live's Cheri Oteri, and the proud aunt shouted that to the world via Twitter, writing, "My amazing nephew Nicholas Oteri killing it last night. I'm so proud!"