People leave SNL all the time, but this year is a little different. At the end of Season 47 in May, four cast members left. Then three more joined them. Then one more. That brings the total to eight departing performers, with only four replacing them (so far). But longtime SNL honcho Lorne Michaels isn’t worried, and he even knows what to blame.
Talking to The New York Times, Michaels argued that the “turnover” is a natural result of having a once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis, which led to a lot of people sticking with jobs amidst an uncertain economic climate.
“The pandemic had put us in this position where no one could really leave because there were no jobs,” said Michaels. “And at the same time, if I don’t add new people every year, then the show isn’t the show. There have to be new people, for both our sake and also for the audience.”
Michaels even argued that there were not only too many cast members, but too many cast members who were focused on other things, who were itching to leave.
“We got to a point where we had a lot of people, and people weren’t getting enough playing time. The way the series has survived is by that level of renewal,” Michaels explained. “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. And there’s something so much better about the show when all that matters is the show. There’s a time to say goodbye, and there’s a natural time for it, but the natural time just got interfered with by the pandemic.”
Michaels called Season 48, which begins on Oct. 1, “a year of reinvention,” adding that “change is exhilarating.”
He also talked up the show’s 50th season, which some have speculated could be its last. Michaels dismissed that, and the idea of him retiring, saying only that Season 50 will be super-sized.
“The 50th will be a big event. We’ll bring everyone back from all 50 years and hosts and all of that. It will be a very emotional and very strong thing,” he said. “There won’t be as many plus-ones, I can tell you that much.”