Lorne Michaels Discusses the ‘Year of Reinvention’ Coming to #SNL via @ditzkoff.
Four of its veteran performers — Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson and Kyle Mooney — made it known ahead of the 47th season finale in May that they were leaving “S.N.L.” Three more cast members — Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari — exited at the start of this month and another, Chris Redd, announced his departure on Monday.
While four new featured players will join the ensemble for its 48th season premiere, on Oct. 1, the show is experiencing one of its biggest transitions since 1995, when the cast was almost completely overhauled.
These are moments that Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of “S.N.L.,” has experienced before. As he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, “This is a year of reinvention. And change is exhilarating.”
The latest shift is also one that Michaels said he saw coming and that could not be put off any longer. As he explained, “The pandemic had put us in this position where no one could really leave, because there were no jobs. And at the same time, if I don’t add new people every year, then the show isn’t the show. There have to be new people, for both our sake and also for the audience.”
“S.N.L.,” which won the Emmy this month for variety sketch series, has usually found a way to revitalize itself, era after era. But Michaels, 77, knows that these junctures can also be perplexing and even perilous for the show. He spoke further about how he approached this most recent changeover, why it was necessary and what he plans to do when the show turns 50. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Yes, but we were also at 23 or 24. We got to a point where we had a lot of people, and people weren’t getting enough playing time. The way the series has survived is by that level of renewal. The price of success is that people go off and do other things; their primary obligation is to their talent and to keep pushing that. And there’s something so much better about the show when all that matters is the show. There’s a time to say goodbye and there’s a natural time for it, but the natural time just got interfered with by the pandemic.