Lorne Michaels to ‘Saturday Night Live’ Cast Veterans: Stay a Little Longer (EXCLUSIVE) https://t.co/ay9KZiTCYd— Variety (@Variety) August 2, 2021
• Ever since Chevy Chase left SNL after its first season, it's been seen as a place you leave. It was, and still is, a major stepping stone for the career of any comedian who appears on the show. But recently it's become a place where cast members stay for a very long time.
• Kenan Thompson is the most obvious example, having just completed his 18th season on the show (to steal my favorite Girls5eva joke, Kenan has been on the show for an entire Olivia Rodrigo). Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, and Aidy Bryant have all tied Maya Rudolph's record as the longest running female cast members at 9 seasons on the show. tl;dr: the show has seen very little cast overhaul since season 40, with the last major departure being Leslie Jones back in season 44.
• It turns out that producer and showrunner Lorne Michaels would like to keep it that way. Variety says that he's been negotiating with these veteran cast members, trying to get them to stay for a few more seasons. Apparently the goal is to keep them around until the show's 50th anniversary.
• Part of the negotiations include offering more flexible schedules for the stars to take time off during the season to shoot other projects. Though it's a practice as old as the show itself, for many years it wasn't something that Michaels was a big fan of (in fact, multiple sources point to this being the reason for Taran Killam's untimely firing in 2016).
• His attitude towards the practice has changed recently. Pete Davidson missed some episodes of season 45 in order to shoot scenes for James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, while Cecily Strong missed the first six episodes of season 46 in order to complete production on the Apple TV+ show Schmigadoon. Aidy Bryant missed most of the first half of season 46 to finish shooting the final season of Shrill. Kenan Thompson's NBC sitcom, Kenan found ways to shoot their season without cutting into his and co-star Chris Redd's screen time on SNL. (It should be noted here that Schmigadoon, Shrill, and Kenan are all produced by Lorne Michaels production company, Broadway Video).
• Variety notes that SNL has a newfound important to NBC. For the first time in its 46 year run, the show ended its season as the number one most-watched entertainment program on TV among the 18-49 demo. Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, Kenan Thompson, and Bowen Yang have all been nominated for Emmys this year, adding to the importance of keeping veteran cast members. (Bryant and Thompson are double nominees, getting recognition for their work on SNL in the supporting category and recognition for their work on Shrill and Kenan respectively in the lead category. Yang makes history as the first featured player in the show's history to get an Emmy nomination).
ontd, what do you think? are you happy that these cast members are sticking around or would you like to see an overhaul of the show?