Saturday Night Live could be returning to its normal production at Studio 8H in New York’s Rockefeller Center this fall for its 46th season, as reported by Variety. The popular late-night sketch comedy show was forced to halt production at its physical location in NBC’s headquarters back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The last traditional episode that aired was shot on March 7 featuring Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) as host and with a special guest appearance by Senator Elizabeth Warren.Vanity Fair reported that the next episode was originally slated for March 28, featuring John Kransinki (Jack Ryan) as host, but was scrapped in order to adhere to the social-distancing regulations implemented at that time.
But the show must and did go on, as SNL returned on April 11 with its first-ever remote show. Their new inventive format lasted for three episodes and contained previously recorded Zoom sketched done the cast that also featured celebrity guest appearances by Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Tom Hanks (Forest Gump), Paul Rudd (Ant Man), and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids). Despite the limitations of the new episodes, most noticeably the lack of props and costumes, SNL still managed to capture the spirit of the show for its audience. Season 45 of Saturday Night Live concluded ahead of schedule on May 9.
Season 46 of the Saturday Night Live is expected to return in the fall—a typical season for SNL starts in late September—and Variety reports that if NBC and producer Lorne Michaels have their way, it could return to its normal production habits, albeit without a live audience. Michaels has the option to take a page from NBC’s Tonight Show with host Jimmy Fallon (Fever Pitch) which has already returned to its normal format. These broadcastings are shot inside a smaller facility to create a controlled environment, with a socially distanced Fallon working alongside the Roots band, and a handful of mask-wearing cameramen. These precautions would mean that SNL would have to do without a live audience, but it could make all the difference in whether the show returns this fall.
A return to normal for the show would be vital for its ratings, as SNL typically tends to prosper during the presidential election seasons. In 2016, SNL’s ratings soared thanks in-part to its hilarious skits that featured celebrity impersonations by the likes of Alec Baldwin (The Departed) as Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy (The Heat) as former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, to name a few.
The decision to reopen the show at its home location will be left up to the unfolding events of the COVID-19 crisis. Either way, fans can look forward to more of the same creative content put out by the cast of Saturday Night Live this fall when season 46 returns to NBC late-night television.