Ancier was the NBC exec who canceled critical fave Freaks and Geeks in 2000 after 12 episodes (18 were actually produced in total) due to low ratings. Freaks and Geeks went on to cult status as executive producer Judd Apatow became a successful filmmaker, and the show's stars — including Rogen — went on to big careers.
Rogen and Ancier chatted in the room, and Ancier later wrote on Facebook: "In the writers room at SNL tonight, still taking some mild abuse for canceling Freaks and Geeks 14 years ago... once again, Judd Apatow and cast, sorry!"
Rogen, meanwhile, turned to Twitter to give his account: "Last night I was in a room with the dude who cancelled Freaks and Geeks. And yes, I did totally call him out on it."
That started a minor social media firestorm, although Ancier's name was never mentioned in any of the accounts that followed.
On Monday, Rogen elaborated on his chat with Ancier (while still keeping him unnamed) during a chat with HuffPost Live: "I was at Saturday Night Live watching backstage... And I overheard someone say the name of the guy who canceled Freaks and Geeks. I know his name obviously because we've talked about how stupid he was for the last 15 years. And he oddly tried to justify it. He was like, 'You know, Judd [Apatow] wouldn't listen to my notes.' I was like, 'Your notes probably were stupid!' He was like, 'You know, I kept telling Judd [Apatow], give them a victory, give them a victory,' And I was like, 'The whole show was about how in high school you always lose all the time and that's it!' He went to a private school and was very rich as a child."
Ancier gave his side of the story on Facebook (and gave TV Guide Magazine permission to repost here): "Just to clarify, Seth Rogen: I thought we had a very nice chat about Freaks and Geeks on Saturday night. As I said, my only note to Judd Apatow over the entire series was that either the Freaks and/or the Geeks should win the occasional victory over the cooler kids — especially since Judd Apatow has taken that note in every hit movie since.
"I absolutely hated canceling this particular show. It was clear from the very beginning that Freaks and Geeks had great writing from Judd and Paul Feig, and a tremendous cast. This was an awful decision that has haunted me forever. But the show was consistently NBC's least-viewed. For what it is worth, I have watched all of the episodes over and over again on Netflix, and asked myself what I could have done better to save it."
Ancier adds: "To be honest, I thought we had a nice conversation that evening. I have a strong feeling that the tweet was on behalf of Freaks and Geeks fans. After all, he and his co-stars (James Franco, etc.) have all become movie stars, and had the show continued..."
Another star has Ancier's back: Black-ish star Anthony Anderson commented in Ancier's post that "I still haven't gotten over you [canceling the short-lived WB show] All About the Andersons! Now come sit in the writers room at Black-ish... I always respected your honesty with me during those WB years. Good, bad or indifferent!"