SNL Creator Lorne Michaels Calls Season 48 a ‘Transition Year’ in the Wake of 7 Cast Members’ Exits

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Natasha Lyonne, Japanese Breakfast Episode 1826 -- Pictured: Kate McKinnon as Ms. Rafferty during the Final Encounter cold open on Saturday, May 14, 2022 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — Natasha Lyonne, Japanese Breakfast Episode 1826 — Pictured: Kate McKinnon as Ms. Rafferty during the Final Encounter cold open on Saturday, May 14, 2022 — (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Saturday Night Live is ready to welcome a “different generation” of talent, says creator Lorne Michaels.

In the wake of seven cast members’ exits since May, Michaels acknowledged on Monday that season 48 “will be a transition year, and the change years are always difficult.”

“There are new people, and things are changing, and a different generation comes into the show,” Michaels, 77, told reporters backstage at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards after SNL picked up its sixth consecutive outstanding variety series trophy.

Canadian-US producer and creator of "Saturday Night Live" Lorne Michaels (R) accepts the award for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series from South Korean actress Jung Ho-yeon onstage during the 74th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, on September 12, 2022.
Canadian-US producer and creator of “Saturday Night Live” Lorne Michaels (R) accepts the award for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series from South Korean actress Jung Ho-yeon onstage during the 74th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, on September 12, 2022.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty

Per TV Line‘s report, Michaels added that it’s an “exciting” time for the long-running late-night sketch show, and he also confirmed that four unnamed new cast members will join SNL ahead of the new season.

SNL‘s mass exodus began in May when longtime cast members Kate McKinnonAidy BryantKyle Mooney and Pete Davidson left the show after the season 47 finale.

PEOPLE confirmed on Sept. 1 that three additional SNL comedians — cast members Melissa Villaseñor and Alex Moffat, as well as featured comedian Aristotle Athari — would not be returning for season 48.

Behind-the-scenes power player Lindsay Shookus also announced her exit from the series in August.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Natasha Lyonne, Japanese Breakfast Episode 1826 -- Pictured: (l-r) Anchor Michael Che, with Aidy Bryant and Bowen Yang as Trend Forecasters during Weekend Update on Saturday, May 14, 2022 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — Natasha Lyonne, Japanese Breakfast Episode 1826 — Pictured: (l-r) Anchor Michael Che, with Aidy Bryant and Bowen Yang as Trend Forecasters during Weekend Update on Saturday, May 14, 2022 — (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Michaels noted that the COVID pandemic over the last few years may have played into SNL stars’ decisions about when and how to take their final bow.

“I think people might’ve left earlier, but there was no place to go,” he acknowledged. “It was difficult, particularly when you’re rehearsing in masks and it’s all protocols and there’s nothing to do after the show except go home.”

Bryant, 35, backed up this theory in a June interview with Variety: “If it weren’t for COVID, I probably would have left a few years earlier. But it was such a huge change. When COVID hit, it was so jarring that we were all like, ‘I’m definitely going to come back next year.'”

Season 48 of SNL will premiere Oct. 1 on NBC.

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