It seemed like it was going to be a relatively stable year for the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live. Just a few weeks ago, we reported that every single cast member who was involved with Season 40 is returning for Season 41. Unfortunately, the good news didn’t last. Although the cast is returning, five SNL writers have left the series, including popular writer Mike O’Brien. In fact, the former writers have already been replaced. Here’s what we know.
On Monday, reports indicated that O’Brien, along with Nick Rutherford, Natasha Rothwell, Alison Rich and Claire Mulaney have all left the SNL set and will not be returning for Season 41. Splitsider’s report doesn’t mention why everyone is leaving, just that they are, and have already been replaced by six new people. Interestingly, two writers have hopped over from The Late Show with David Letterman. Those writers are Paul Masella and Chris Belair. YouTube comedian Dave Sirus has also been added to the show, as have Upright Citizens Brigade performers Fran Gillespie, Sudi Green, and Will Stephen.
Saturday Night Live has been on the air for more than forty seasons now, and in that time the writing staff has changed over time and time again. However, it’s unusual for five writers to leave in one fell swoop. In addition, the loss of Mike O’Brien should hit some fans of SNL fairly hard, as the writer and former SNL performer has a pretty good-sized following.
O’Brien’s trajectory on SNL hasn’t exactly been straightforward. The comedian auditioned several times for NBC’s late night sketch series before he was hired on as a writer. Then, in 2013, O’Brien was briefly promoted to a cast member role. He lasted for one season before returning to the writer’s room full time. It could have been worse. Fellow cast members that season, Noel Wells and John Milhiser, were fired from the show after only one set of episodes. Now, O'Brien is totally off the show.
Upprox is currently saying that O’Brien may no longer be a writer on the show, but he still could be involved. While nothing is official, he might return from time to time to create pre-recorded shorts for the veteran sketch series. We’ll let you know if that ends up happening.
It was only recently that the latest SNL cast really started to hit its stride. Obviously, the writing staff is a huge part of the show’s success, and we’ll have to wait and see if things seem a little different—for better or for worse—when Saturday Night Live returns to the schedule this fall. You can catch new episodes of SNL starting on Saturday, October 3 at 11:30 p.m. ET. In addition, here’s when your other fall favorites are returning.
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Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.