Change is still a-comin’ to Saturday Night Live. After the high profile departures at the end of the 47th season, now come some lower profile departures ahead of the 48th. Some people get to celebrate with a glowing goodbye sketch, while others get the late-summer shuffle out. Them’s the breaks at Studio 8H.
The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Alex Moffat, Melissa Villaseñor, and Aristotle Athari are leaving the legendary sketch show before the new season’s premiere. Moffat and Villaseñor (SNL’s first Latina repertory player) were both series regulars who have been around since 2016. Athari was a featured player who came on in 2021 alongside fellow newbies James Austin Johnson and Sarah Sherman.
These exits come after SNL mainstays Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, and Kyle Mooney celebrated their last show in the finale of the 48th season. News of their departure broke before the episode aired, so there was a little more fanfare surrounding the occasion.
The major shake-ups at the show aren’t limited to those in front of the camera. Earlier this month news broke that Lindsay Shookus, a major producer for the program who dealt with talent relations, would be leaving the series after a whopping 20 seasons.
Events transpiring so far are not quite in line with previous reports that Lorne Michaels was trying to keep everybody around through the show’s 50th anniversary. But by May of this year, Michaels was acknowledging to the New York Times that the upcoming season could mark a “year of change” for the series. He has also suggested that he himself might leave after the 50th season, which would indicate that he’s in wind-down mode. Will that take the form of setting the stage for his departure? Relinquishing some responsibility to prepare his successors? Phoning it in for the final march? Approaching these final years with more energy, and going out with a bang?
The answers aren’t clear yet, but he’s obviously not totally cleaning house. Remaining cast members–many of whom have been on for several years–include Michael Che, Mikey Day, Andrew Dismukes, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Johnson, Punkie Johnson, Colin Jost, Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Sherman, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang. New additions have yet to be announced, but surely there’s more to come in the “year of change.”