Saturday Night Live should get pretty much a full season after the Writers Guild and the studios reached a tentative agreement to end the strike.
The NBC show had Season 48 cut short by three episodes when the writers walked out at the beginning of May.
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Deadline hears that the show, which traditionally restarts at the very end of September or the beginning of October, is now likely to return on either October 7 or 14, pending a ratification vote by the WGA.
Essentially, the WGA negotiating committee are expected to recommend the agreement and send it to the WGA West Board and WGA East Council for a vote, likely scheduled for Tuesday. This potentially could lift the restraining order and allow writers return to work as the deal is waiting to be ratified.
After the previous writers strike ended on February 12, 2008, production commenced on Season 33 of SNL on February 18 for the February 23 episode. Former SNL cast member and 30 Rock star Tina Fey hosted that night with musical guest Carrie Underwood.
However, last time the actors weren’t also on strike, which throws in a few additional challenges.
SNL, like the daily late-night shows and reality shows including Dancing with the Stars, is covered under SAG-AFTRA’s Network Code, which means that theoretically everyone could come back to work.
However, given SAG-AFTRA is still waiting to return to talks with the AMPTP and remains on strike, certain cast members might be unwilling to go back to work until that is resolved — which is thought to be at least two to three weeks away at the earliest.
Would the likes of Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Colin Jost, Ego Nwodim, Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang – some of whom have been regulars on the picket lines – be willing to return under these circumstances? Will all of them return for Season 49?
There’s a chance that a handful of them would choose to go the Mayim Bialik route, which saw The Big Bang Theory and Call Me Kat star decide against returning to host Jeopardy! even though that game show fell under the same Network Code.
Then there’s casting. James Austin Johnson, who became a breakout for his impersonations of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and Sarah Sherman, whose quirky style went viral with her Meatballs sketch, are set to be promoted from featured players to repertory status this season.
Will Marcelo Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker, who were all hired in 2022, return?
Creator and showrunner Lorne Michaels also needs to make decisions on new cast members. We hear that he’s been looking at some folks but hasn’t made any final verdicts.
Hosting choices also will be slightly more complicated as it’s unlikely that any SAG-AFTRA members would be willing to host until their deal is done. The majority of hosts for last season were actors including Miles Teller, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Austin Butler, Aubrey Plaza, Michael B. Jordon, Pedro Pascal, Woody Harrelson and Jenna Ortega.
Musicians such as Jack Harlow and Megan Thee Stallion also hosted last season. Taylor Swift, fresh from her record-breaking tour and a new boyfriend in recent SNL host, Kansas City Chief tight end Travis Kelce, is an obvious choice.
Fans online have been calling for the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rising rapper Ice Spice and Kelce’s teammate Patrick Mahomes to be invited.
More will become clear over the next 48 hours.
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