An internal struggle to reinvent ‘SNL’ as 8 cast members leave

Middle age is no joke.

And as ‘Saturday Night Live’ celebrates its 50th birthday on the horizon – the show Season 48 premieres on October 1 – Some wonder if the years have caused huge losses.

Seven of the main cast members left: Pete Davidson, Chris ReedKate McKinnon, Kyle Mooney, Eddie Bryant, Melissa Villasinor and Alex Moffat. Featured player Aristotle Atari is also gone, while Cecily Strong, who seemed to suggest at the end of last season that she was off the field, will be back, according to a source.

As of the time of publication, only Four alternatives It has been announced.

Meanwhile, many big questions loom: Where does he go from here? What happens when creator Lorne Michaels, now 77, retires – and when will that be? And the show lost all the youthful hype with tabloid favorite Davidson – famous for his romantic life (Kim kardashianAnd the Ariana GrandeAnd the Margaret QualleyAnd the Kate Beckinsale), enmities (Kanye West) and honesty about it Mental health struggles – Drop out of education?

Pete Davidson is leaving the show and he already has a skit in the works.
Pete Davidson is leaving the show and he already has a skit in the works.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Multiple sources have told The Post that the decision not to replace everyone counted, as the sheer size of the cast last year — 16 players in the ref plus five featured cast members — was actually hurting him.

“Last year the cast was pretty big, but what I understood from Lorne was that, during Covid, everyone wanted to stay together. It’s unusual for them to have such a big acting,” a source in the TV industry said. “One thing I heard is that there were so many people last season that they couldn’t tell people the way they wanted to.

“Currently, [Michaels] He has to develop new people.”

While there is speculation that creator and producer Lorne Michaels will step down after the 50th season (2024-2025), sources expect he will retain some role, and an office at 30 Rock.
While there is speculation that creator and producer Lorne Michaels will step down after the 50th season (2024-2025), sources expect he will retain some role, and an office at 30 Rock.
AP Images via Sipa USA; Getty Images

A Michaels spokesperson confirmed to the newspaper: “Due to the pandemic, no one has left [for the past couple years” — but that didn’t stop the show from adding newcomers. “The way the series has survived is by renewal. Because if the show doesn’t add people every year, the show isn’t the show.”

Some, like McKinnon, “were natural to leave,” the insider said. “Kate was going to leave forever; obviously, she had a few things on the side” — including voiceover work such as “The Magic School Bus” series. Davidson, meanwhile, has regularly been making movies (“Bodies Bodies Bodies,” “The King of Staten Island”) and Bryant starred on Hulu’s “Shrill.” Redd is set to voice a lead role in a yet-to-be titled project from Michaels’ Broadway Video and Audible and is attached to star in the feature film “Cyber Monday.”

The industry source, however, hinted that there might be more to Redd’s departure, which was just announced this week: “Not the easiest person, to be honest. [There was a need to] Calm him down on things. [He had] One foot in and one foot in.”

Aidy Bryant is one of many departing cast members who already have a busy career abroad
Aidy Bryant is one of many departing cast members who already have a busy career outside of SNL.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

No cast has commented but a source close to the show said, “Chris Reed is amazingly talented and always a pleasure to work with.”

According to Asylum NYC improv club owner Norm LaViolet, Michaels and others on the talent acquisition crew didn’t seem afraid of what appeared to be a mass exodus of talent.

As usual, SNL show executives have arranged auditions in various cities across the United States, including Asylum in Chelsea. There were 25 artists selected from hundreds of contestants from stand-up platforms, the Internet, and social media.

“There is no more urgency [than in previous years]Lavolette said. “It gets tricky when a large percentage of your group suddenly relocates. But are all people leaving on their own? Or has ‘SNL’ sponsored some out the door? I would argue that if someone’s been around for 12 or 13 years, they keep a place To someone “.

A TV insider suggests there may be more about Chris Reed's departure story
A TV insider suggests there might be more to the story of why Chris Reed left ‘SNL’.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Although the valuable and versatile Keenan Thompson has been on the show for 20 seasons, the TV source noted it’s an anomaly: “The average time is seven or eight years as long as people stay.”

Speaking of anomalies, it was very rare for a show to have a lightning rod as it did with Davidson. Pete was the hot topic in this weekend’s update. Everyone wanted to do sketches with him because he was the guy who got it I talked about it on page sixChris Italia, co-owner of Comedy Club Stand NYC, told The Post. “He had that effect. [Executives at ‘SNL’] I’d never say that, but I’m sure they’re okay with all the attention. They’d never say they wanted their buddies on Page Six, but it did help with the assessment.”

Behind the scenes at the 2022 Emmy Awards on September 12, Michaels told reporters, “This is going to be a transitional year. The years of change are always tough but always exciting.”

With the departure of Pete Davidson — who dated Kim Kardashian, among other big names — the show lost its big tabloid star.
With the departure of Pete Davidson — who dated Kim Kardashian, among other big names — the show lost its big tabloid star.
Getty Images

In an interview with The New York Times this week, he noted, “Rebirth, that period, it’s painful. I’ve lived through it five or six times. Most people have never gone through it more than once or twice. But it’s always bumpy.”

Much in the industry speculates that the legendary producer is determined to make it to Season 50 and then drop out. Can. Somewhat.

It will last until fiftyThe tenth Tom Shales, co-author of the book, said:Live from New York, “Oral history of the show.” This is based on my conversation with him. I don’t think it’s humanly possible to bypass that. [That] It will definitely be his last year. He said a lot.

Comedy club owners say Michaels (above with former cast member Tina Fey) appears aghast at the talent exodus.
Comedy club owners say Michaels (above with former cast member Tina Fey) appears aghast at the talent exodus.
WireImage

‘Lauren will have an office [at the 30 Rock Center headquarters of ‘SNL’] And he’ll hang out, but he’ll feel self-conscious. He will keep his desk and feel ashamed to be there. It would be His Highness Old Gray and that was not his style, said Charles, who said he was still in contact with Michaels. “He’ll say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be on the weekly show. “But he will not be able to resist it. It will lead to some complications.”

The industry source, who heard Michaels brushing off the retirement rumors, told The Post, “I’m not retired” is his thing, but 50 will come and reconsider – unless he’s having a lot of fun. “

“Loren has no plans to retire,” Michaels’ spokesperson told The Post.

But if and when he steps down, what happens next for ‘SNL’?

Melissa Villasinor is among those who left the show.
Melissa Villasinor is among those who left the show.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“It’s possible they’ll bring the show back entirely so it’s not ‘SNL’ as we know it. You probably still want a cool opening and someone says, ‘Live from New York…’ but you’ll want to cut back on the comparisons. [between the current version of the show and a new one]Charles said.

As for who will take the reins, the industry source predicted: “Some old graduates can take over. You need a good person, who has talent; a good product, a good name in the industry. I don’t think it’s going to be Tina.” [Fey] But it must be someone like that.”

Not a single person will ever be Lindsay Chocos, the “SNL” producer who suddenly left Last month after 20 years she had a notoriety in the tabloids by dating Ben Affleck on and off from 2017 to 2019. She was responsible for finding new talent and booking musical guests.

Kate McKinnon was a natural to leave, having been on the show for 10 years and with several projects in the pipeline.
Kate McKinnon was a natural to leave, having been on the show for 10 years and with several projects in the pipeline.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“She’s discussed herself about the production but has always fallen back on it,” said the industry source, who also described Shookus as a “polarizing” character among the cast and crew.

Shookus has no comments.

Former cast member Joe Piscopo, who worked on SNL in 1980 when Michaels was laying off as a full-time producer, believes replacing him would be impossible.

“As long as Mr. Michaels is in charge, the show cannot be destroyed,” Piscopo told The Post. “He leaves, and you’re talking about a situation. I don’t know if he can be replaced and if the show can continue after he’s gone. Not many people have the magical luster that Lorne has. I don’t know how she recovers.”

Insiders say Michaels is in no rush to fill all the open spaces as the cast has grown to an unusually large size during the pandemic.
Insiders say Michaels is in no rush to fill all the open spaces as the cast has grown to an unusually large size during the pandemic.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Even these many years, Michaels is still remarkably practical.

Lorne’s down [to watch the auditions]He said La Violet Asylum. “People are amazed that Lorne is still coming down and watching. He’d have every reason to put him in cruise control and have someone else check out the first 25. That he’s still there telling me the guy still loves her.”

Which does not necessarily mean that he shows it. Whenever Michaels liked a competitor, LaViolet said, “He laughed softly. Not much.”

For newcomers, there are specific benefits that come with being offered as well-established as ‘SNL’: “You’re hired as a writer or represented as a performer and you automatically get an agent, director, and more job opportunities — directors and agents, but for some young talent, it’s a long way off,” Laviolette said. about radar.

Chloe Feynman is
A TV industry source said that Chloe Feynman is the “rising star” of SNL Now.
Getty Images for NRDC

“I’ll be honest. I didn’t even care [to the goings on at ‘SNL’]Comedian Leonard Ozitz told The Post. “SNL” is not a huge factor in my life. I had a chance to get some tests done. Michael Che is a good friend and it’s been said that he can [help get] performance experience. Through my agency, I can get a test. “SNL” was nothing to me. I am 29 years old. When I was growing up, the biggest thing was ‘Wild ‘N Out’.

When it comes to who’s staying on the show, the industry source said there are definite stars.

“[‘Weekend Update’ hosts] Colin Jost and Michael Che are good announcers for the show. vanity [Nwodim] Have more time. renal [Fineman] He is a rising star. The source said of writer-turned-actor Bowen Yang, who co-starred in the summer,fire islandMovie. “Bowen and Chloe are natural stars.”

Insiders point to Bowen Yang as one of the bright lights of the remaining crew and say it hasn't been used enough.
Insiders point to Bowen Yang as one of the bright lights of the remaining crew and say it hasn’t been used enough.
Richard Shotwell / Invision / AP

Michaels has also maintained a directing hand in many player careers outside of SNL — helping produce everything from Mike Myers’ “Wayne’s World” movies to Tina Fey’s “30 Rock,” Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers’ late-night talk show on NBC, Fred Armisen “Portlandia,” “That Damn Michael Che” on HBO and Thompson’s recent failed comedy series “Kenan.”

Italia noted that Michaels has evolved over time, becoming more willing to allow performers to take weeks off from SNL to work on other projects.

“Pete has been working on a movie for most of last season,” said Italia of Davidson. Later, “Lorne asked Pete what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to do a series loosely based on his life and now it is being filmed.” comdian theater , “bobkissProduced by Michaels’ Broadway video production company and will be broadcast on Peacock.

Sources agree that it’s hard to visualize “SNL” after Michaels.

“It’s hard to imagine both the show without Lorne and Lorne without the show,” Shales said, speculating on the idea of ​​a new leader. “It’s not like we’re going to get a new daddy – though, maybe from a TV perspective, that’s the case.”

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