When it comes to NBC's Saturday Night Live, the summer season is a time for viewers to see who will or won't be coming back, who will be joining the cast, and when the new season will be kicking off. But this summer has a bit more pressure to it, pressure that won't be letting up anytime soon. First, SNL heads into Season 48 minus Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, and Kyle Mooney, so radars are on for who may be joining the pretty sizeable cast. And then there's the matter of the long-running sketch comedy/music series nearing its 50th season- an occasion for both celebration and speculation. At the end of last year, series creator Lorne Michaels hinted heavily at the possibility that he may step down after the show reaches that milestone. If that's the case, then long-running cast member Kenan Thompson believes it might be time for SNL to end its run, too- especially if the show isn't allowed to continue to be the show that it's become.
"Is that the rumor? All right, well, I need to start planning," Thompson joked to Charlamagne the God during the latter's show Hell of a Week on Comedy Central. For Thompson, the concern is what (and who) will fill the void left by Michaels' departure when it comes to doing right by the show. "He's [Michaels] the one that's had his touch on the whole thing. It opens the opportunity for a lot of bulls— to come into the game because he's such a legend that he keeps off those corporate wolves," he explained. And that's especially true when it comes to the show's budget, an issue that Michaels has fought the network and corporate owners over since before the show hit screens in the '70s. "At that point, you can't really do the same kind of show," Thompson continued. "They spend a lot of money on that show every week. It's an expensive show, but it's a one-of-a-kind thing. It's the only one. You know, 'Live from New York.'"
During a tour behind-the-scenes of SNL's show night with CBS Mornings host Gayle King for his Kennedy Center honor before the end of 2021, Michaels revealed that he had been thinking of retiring and thought it was a "really good time to leave." But first and foremost, his commitment is to see the show make it to that milestone. "I think I'm committed to doing this show until its 50th anniversary, which is in three years. I'd like to see that through, and I have a feeling that'd be a really good time to leave," Michaels explained.
"I won't want the show ever to be bad. I care too deeply about it. It's been my life's work. So I'm going to do everything I can to see it carry on and carry on well," he continued. And while Michaels was loathed to discuss details on something that wouldn't happen for three more years, he did admit when it comes to who would take on the role next that they had "a sense of where we're headed with that."
NBC's Saturday Night Live Season 47 cast includes Aidy Bryant, Michael Che, Pete Davidson, Mikey Day, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Colin Jost, Kate McKinnon, Alex Moffat, Kyle Mooney, Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Melissa Villaseñor, and Bowen Yang; feature players include the returning Andrew Dismukes and Punkie Johnson, as well as new players Aristotle Athari (Future Man, All Rise), James Austin Johnson (Silicon Valley), and Sarah Sherman (The Eric Andre Show).