Lorne Michaels reportedly has a message for veteran Not Ready for Primetime Players who may be thinking about leaving Saturday Night Live this season: consider sticking around.
Per Variety, the SNL creator and producer is wrapping up his European summer vacation and gearing up for next season’s contract negotiations, which typically take place in late summer or early fall. Rumors have been swirling that some of SNL’s longtime cast members, including Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, and Pete Davidson, are considering leaving the show ahead of its 47th season. But Variety writes that Michaels would like to lock in some of them through the show’s 50th season, which would extend their contracts into 2025.
Despite SNL finishing its 46th season as the most-watched entertainment program in the coveted 18 to 49 demographic, many of its most beloved cast members have been cryptic about whether they plan to return come fall. In April, the Emmy-winning McKinnon, who got choked up during this May’s season finale cold open alongside Strong and Bryant, told Variety, “It’s early, and I really love working there, and I really love everyone who works there, so we will see.” Likewise, the Emmy-nominated Strong, who belted out “My Way” as Jeanine Pirro to close out Weekend Update in the finale, also seemed unsure of what the future holds. “I’ll be thrilled if I go back [to SNL], I’ll be thrilled if that was my last show,” Strong said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
While several members of the cast may be on the fence, Michaels is reportedly more willing than ever to work with their busy schedules in order to get them to stay on the show. He demonstrated this flexibility this past year, permitting Strong and Bryant to miss multiple episodes to shoot their respective comedies—Apple TV+’s Schmigadoon and Hulu’s Shrill—and working around SNL’s longest-running cast member Kenan Thompson’s eponymous new NBC sitcom Kenan, which also stars fellow SNL cast member Chris Redd. It may help that Michaels’s entertainment company Broadway Video produces all of these ventures.
Michaels’s wish for major swaths of the cast to stay on the program may be motivated by his own desire to (eventually) fly the coop. In 2018, Michaels struck a deal with NBC to keep Saturday Night Live on air into 2025. Many have speculated that the 76-year-old Michaels may be plotting his retirement, and planning to hand over the reins to someone else—or, gasp, even ending the show altogether. For those worried about what a world without SNL would look like, there might not be cause for alarm. In 2015, Michaels told Variety that “he would not be happy to see it go off the air.” In 2021, it looks like Michaels feels that way about the current cast.
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