The film and television industries have been on lockdown for over four months now, but of course that hasn’t meant there’s no new content. Lots of shows have relocated from the studio to the home, with performers, hosts, their guests, et al. talking into webcams in their living rooms. SNL has been among the programs to rework itself for the quarantine era, but The Hollywood Reporter are claiming that show is already plotting a studio return.
Granted, this is from a source, not NBC itself, who claims the longtime live sketch show’s 46th season will take a big step and return to its iconic studio. That being said, the full cast and crew are unlikely to return. As per THR, “One option would be to allow only limited configurations of cast and crew into the studio, which presumably would mean that a show consisting mostly of live sketches might not be in the offing for some time.”
Another probable major absence: that live studio audience. While SNL’s hometown, New York City — once the epicenter of the pandemic — has gotten considerably better, with cases relatively low and steady, the majority of indoor places, such as movie theaters and museums, are still closed to crowds. That may mean whatever cast members are back on any given week will be playing to empty seats. Maybe they could do what baseball is now doing and have cardboard cutouts — or, better yet, do what South Korean baseball did and fill the seats with stuffed animals.
Again, this is all in the larval stage, and everything can certainly change, as it often does these days. Still, shows ditching home webcams and returning to studios has already happened to certain programs. The Tonight Show, also at NBC, restarted in-studio taping last week, with Jimmy Fallon and house band The Roots keeping their social distance. As of now, the last time SNL recorded in the studio, with everyone present, was the March 7 episode hosted by Daniel Craig.