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Saturday Night Live underwent a bit of a change during the final three episodes of Season 45. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the show was forced to remotely record episodes, with cast members contributing content from their homes. These three episodes collectively became known as Saturday Night Live at Home. Now, filming restrictions are gradually lifting for productions across the US and, if a new report is to be believed, SNL could be leaving quarantine and returning to its studio home at 30 Rockefeller Plaza for Season 46.
Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels is reportedly making plans for Season 46 to return to the shows in-studio format, per Variety. At this point in time, NBC has declined to comment on plans for the upcoming season.
Despite this, Variety does report that at least one strategy is being considered for new episodes. The idea would call for the show to be produced in a “controlled” environment, which would probably eliminate the chances of a live audience being involved. Interestingly, fellow 30 Rockefeller Plaza-based show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, is already utilizing this approach, and Lorne Michaels -- a producer on that show -- is helping to oversee it.
According to the trade, any potential plans will ultimately be determined by the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety of the cast and crew. There is currently no premiere date for Season 46.
SNL is far from the only late-night show to be experiencing the effects of the global health crisis. For the past few months, The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and other programs have been produced from home.
It goes without saying that Saturday Night Live will have to tread lightly while preparing for the new season, despite the producers’ possible eagerness to return to the studio. As Variety mentions, one of the things that makes this situation even more challenging is that we’re approaching a presidential election, and SNL typically does well ratings-wise ahead of the event. With this, you can imagine that the producers, and NBC as a whole, would prefer a more traditional setup for those election-related sketches.
Nevertheless, Saturday Night Live at Home served as a solid solution for those who still wanted their comedy fix while in self-quarantine. The cast was more than game for the change of scenery and the episodes included a handful of memorable moments. This included an appearance from Dr. Anthony Fauci, as played by Brad Pitt, and a heartfelt opening monologue from host Tom Hanks.
The cast and crew of Saturday Night Live currently find themselves in an interesting position and, with SNL plans usually announced at the end of the summer, it may not be long before we know for sure what’s going on. Time will tell if the cast and crew return to the stage come this September.