Lorne Michaels is gearing up for a transitional season of Saturday Night Live after a massive cast shakeup ahead of Season 48. The NBC sketch comedy series lost a total of 8 cast members and Michaels is talking about how that came about.
“We got to a point where we had a lot of people, and people weren’t getting enough playing time,” he told the New York Times in an interview. “The way the series has survived is by that level of renewal. The price of success is that people go off and do other things; their primary obligation is to their talent and to keep pushing that.”
Michaels also added that the pandemic “interfered” with the “natural time” for some of the comics to say goodbye to the show adding, “We try to do the best with the cast that was there, and at the same time, my first responsibility is to keep the show fresh. Things grow stale. I don’t think we’d gotten stale, because the people we had were so gifted and at their peak.”
Deadline revealed back in May that Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney were leaving the late-night show at the end of the season along with Pete Davidson. Ahead of the Season 48 premiere, it was revealed that Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari were not returning either with Chris Redd also exiting the show.
However, the new season will see the addition of four new comedians with Marcello Hernández, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker joining the SNL cast. Michaels told NYT that he feels the new cast members “are fresh.”
“They bring things we don’t have and they’re complementary to the people we already have,” Michaels explained. “The new people could last for years. They’re not load-bearing walls. They’re not yet what they’re going to be, but at least half of the fun of watching the show is watching people that are beginning and discovering them.”
One of the segments on the show that will not be changing is “Weekend Update,” which is hosted by Colin Jost and Michael Che. Michaels noted that he needs “that part to be as solid as it is” ahead of the midterm elections this year.
Saturday Night Live Season 48 premieres on October 1 with Miles Teller hosting and Kendrick Lamar as the musical guest.