The most recent season of Saturday Night Live was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, with the cast, writers, and producers rolling with the punches and releasing three “Saturday Night Live at Home” episodes that were produced in quarantine. The pandemic has not yet been fully suppressed in New York City, but executive producer Lorne Michaels and his team are currently looking at ways to get the show back to filming live and in-person again at Manhattan’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza when a new season debuts later this year.
Variety provided a Saturday Night Live update, stating that the show is trying to find a way to resume production for its 46th season. As the show transitions away from its remotely-produced episodes and back toward a semblance of normality, it won’t be an overnight change: for example, it’s highly unlikely that audiences would be shuffled into Studio 8H to watch the cast perform the sketches. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which films in the same building, has only recently returned to physical production there, and that show has done so without bringing in a live studio audience.
THR points out that thanks to the production restrictions and safety protocols in the wake of the coronavirus, it doesn’t seem likely that the full cast and crew of Saturday Night Live would be able to gather in the same studio to film new episodes, so the new season could contain a mixture of in-person sketches and remotely-produced content. It’s unclear how or if the show will be able to convince potential hosts to visit 30 Rock in person to participate, or if future hosts will appear via videoconferencing until it’s safer to gather more people under the same roof.
There’s also the upcoming presidential election to consider. NBC has not yet revealed a premiere date for the new season of Saturday Night Live, but new seasons historically have kicked off in the last weekend of September or the first weekend of October. That’s peak time for sketches and cold opens that skewer the presidential candidates, and SNL saw a significant boost in viewership the last time a presidential race was coming up. No hard and fast decisions have been made yet about exactly how the show will approach its 46th season, but we should be hearing more about its plans in the coming weeks.
The most recent in-studio episode of the series aired on March 7, 2020, with Daniel Craig as the host and The Weeknd as the musical guest.
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