The famed Saturday Night Live sound-stage at 30 Rockefeller Plaza’s Studio 8H has laid empty since March of this year, but a new clip from the show’s Twitter account shows the lights turning back on for an October 3 return, confirmed by Deadline. Season 46 will once more conduct production “live from New York”, instead of continuing the remote “SNL from Home” format that resulted from quarantine conditions.
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) September 10, 2020
The Coronavirus pandemic uprooted the production of many television favorites this past spring, including NBC’s sketch comedy institution. On Saturday March 7, Daniel Craig (Knives Out, Skyfall) was the last celebrity host to grace Studio 8H’s stage, with The Weekend as musical guest. Craig’s monologue focused on promoting his last appearance as James Bond in No Time To Die, which was set to release in April. However, the spread of a global pandemic lead to major changes to entertainment industry at large. No Time To Die was pushed back to November of this year, with a trailer premiering last week, and Saturday Night Live was pushed out of their Studio 8H home indefinitely.
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Adjusting to stay-at-home orders, Saturday Night Live managed to produce 3 unique episodes of the show remotely. “SNL at Home” featured sketches, host monologues and musical performance filmed by individual performers and tied together by crafty editing. The first at home edition of the sketch comedy show aired on NBC April 11, around a month after the cast’s departure from the studio.
In July, during SNL’s traditional summer hiatus, Variety reported on NBC’s eagerness to return the Emmy-nominated sketch show to its New York stage. Though the at-home episodes provided a creative solution under strict stay-at-home orders, they weren’t the ideal format for the comedy program. “There is reason for NBC to steer the show back into familiar terrain.,” Variety spoke on one, of the many, reasons the network desired a return to Studio 8H “SNL tends to thrive during the run-up to a presidential election.” Presidential elections have proven lucrative for the show’s ratings, Variety adding that “the show’s [election] buzz was remarkable for a program that has been on the air more than four decades.” A return to the studio provides opportunities for alumni Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso, Horrible Bosses) and Maya Rudolph (The Good Place, Big Mouth) to reprise their impressions of the Democratic presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in person.
Saturday Night Live will join The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers in their return to 30 Rockfeller Plaza. Fallon and Meyers, both former hosts of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, returned to their late-night desks in studio this month.
An October 3 premiere date is standard-fair for SNL, as Deadline notes: “the show has generally premiered around the end of September or the start of October, meaning that season 46 will not be delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.” While COVID-19 may not have impacted the show’s premiere, it will likely impact many technical components of production, the details of which have yet to be disclosed. The Hollywood Reporter comments that it’s typical SNL fashion not to reveal many details ahead of their premiere, in terms of guests and changes to the cast lineup.
The unprecedented nature of the Coronavirus pandemic prompts questions on how Saturday Night Live will work more so than who will be on it. Deadline reports that the live audience poses one of the largest unknown factors, as NBC released no details about in-person attendance at the upcoming live tapings. However, Variety’s July article reported that a return to 8H would call for “a “controlled” environment, meaning a live audience is likely not part of current considerations.”
Though not forthcoming with details on how production will work, the cast is excited to reunite at their 30 Rock home. According to Deadline, both Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan and Kel) and Colin Jost (Saturday Night Live) have expressed a longing to return to Studio 8H in recent months. Ego Nwodim (Saturday Night Live, Brockmire), promoted from featured to repertory player this week, shared her desire to “hug” fellow castmates in an Instagram post in March. Kyle Mooney (Saturday Night Live, Brigsby Bear) promises that season 46 will “as close to the real thing” as possible (Deadline).