Lorne Michaels Opens Up About SNL Cast Changes Coming After Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon And More Exits

Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live
(Image credit: NBC)

Saturday Night Live is going to look a lot different when it returns for its 48th season in the next few weeks. The long-running sketch comedy series saw some massive changes this past summer, as a number of notable cast members exited the show. In May, fan-favorite Pete Davidson was confirmed to be leaving SNL and, shortly after, the exits of Kate McKinnon and more stars were reported. Given that the new season only weeks away from its premiere, fans are probably wondering how things are progressing behind the scenes. With that, series creator and EP Lorne Michaels is opening up about cast changes.

It should be noted that Saturday Night Live has seen a plethora of cast changes since it debuted on NBC in 1975, though one still can’t help but wonder how the show handles things when multiple comedy titans exit simultaneously. After accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, the 77-year-old Lorne Michaels spoke with members of the press. Deadline was present when the veteran producer discussed this “transition year” and provided an interesting casting update: 

This will be transition year. Change years are always difficult but always exciting. There are new people. There are four new people at least for now.

In addition to Kate McKinnon and Pete Davidson, the award-winning series also lost veteran cast members Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney. And just earlier this month, SNL lost three more stars in Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari. So it makes sense that the show would have four new performers right now. However, as Deadline mentions, contract negotiations are apparently still in motion, and that’s cutting things close ahead of Season 48. The show definitely finds itself in an intriguing spot, and Lorne Michaels went on to explain how the past few years factored into the position that he and his team are in:

The pandemic sort of interfered with the national order of things. I think there was a bonding, people got very close. When we did those at-home shows, you got to see everyone’s apartment where and how they lived. There was an intimacy and connection between audience and group. I couldn’t imagine we could work without that whole team so we kept going.

Had actors not felt compelled to stay amid the pandemic, it’s likely that there would have been more gradual cast exits as opposed to a mass exodus. In addition, longtime series producer Lindsay Shookus exited, and stars like Kenan Thompson and Jason Momoa later wished her well. Saturday Night Live stars have spoken out on the changes. Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost got honest about the departures, saying that he’ll miss his co-stars and hopes to still see them around.

But on a brighter note, there are still plenty of other stars who will return to the stage at 30 Rock in a few weeks. Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong and Mikey Day are among those who are still holding it down. It’s fair to say that the new season will be an adjustment, but it’s likely that Lorne Michaels and co. will power through – as has been the case for the past several decades.

Saturday Night Live Season 48 premieres on October 1 at 11:30 p.m. ET as part of the 2022 TV schedule. In the meantime, you can stream past episodes by grabbing a Peacock Premium subscription.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.