It came down to the wire, but Saturday Night Live, coming off a highly rated season and big Emmy wins, has selected its new cast members and writers for the upcoming 43rd season. Heidi Gardner, Luke Null and Chris Redd will join the venerable show as featured players starting with the season premiere, which is just in four days, on Sept. 30, with host Ryan Gosling and musical guest Jay-Z.
The hires cap a series of auditions and tests over the past month or so in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The final cast selection reportedly was made over Emmy weekend, with work on the writer deals stretching to this week.
Actor-comedian-writer Chris Redd (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) was an early favorite for a spot on the show though he was a series regular on the Netflix comedy series Disjointed, which is awaiting word on a second-season renewal. His release was eventually worked out so he could join SNL. Heidi Gardner (SuperMansion) is a Groundlings alumna while Luke Null performed at iO Chicago.
SNL is getting a major behind-the-scenes makeover with seven new writers, Sam Jay (one of Comedy Central’s Comics To Watch), Gary Richardson (appeared in The Law Firm: Law & Disorder as member of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade; other credits include Spider-Man Homecoming), Erik Marino, (The Hughleys) Andrew Dismukes (performed at FunFunFun Fest, SXSW, The Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, and The Moontower Comedy Festival), Steven Castillo (performed at Riot L.A.), Claire Friedman (The Harvard Lampoon) and Nimesh Patel (writer for the 88th Academy Awards).
Three SNL main cast members departed after the end of of last season, Bobby Moynihan after 8 seasons, Vanessa Bayer after 7, and Sasheer Zamata after 4. Among the returning stars is Kenan Thompson who is setting a record for the longest-serving SNL cast member with his fifteenth season on the show, eclipsing Darrell Hammond’s 14-season run.
Buoyed by viewers’ interest in the November election and Donald Trump’s headline-making presidency, Saturday Night Live‘s most recent 42nd season was its most watched in 23 years.
Ten days ago, it earned the venerable late-night show 9 Emmy awards — the most for any program — including Variety Sketch Series. SNL swept all four comedy series acting categories it was eligible for: supporting actor and actress in a comedy series (Alec Baldwin, Kate McKinnon), as well as guest actor and actress in a comedy series (Dave Chappelle, Melissa McCarthy). SNL‘s career Emmy total wins went up to to 64, besting next closest all-time Emmy series winnersGame of Thrones with 38 and Frasier with 37.
“I remember the first time we won this award,” SNL boss Lorne Michaels, who has led the show for most of its run, said on the Emmy stage. “It was after our first season in 1976, and I remember thinking as I was standing there alone that this was it, this was the high point. There would never be another season as crazy, as unpredictable, as frightening, or exhilarating. I was wrong.”