EXCLUSIVE: Saturday Night Live is set for its biggest change in a number of years.
Deadline understands that a number of long-featured stars including Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Pete Davidson are expected to leave the show at the end of this season.
It comes after creator Lorne Michaels admitted that he was expecting this year to be a “year of change” for the show.
We hear that there may be a big group goodbye, featuring all four the departees, at the end of tomorrow night’s episode, which is hosted by Natasha Lyonne.
It’s not a huge surprise given that this season – season 47 – featured its largest ever cast with 21 stars and eight cast members that were entering their eighth season and beyond.
In addition to McKinnon, Davidson, Bryant and Mooney, those who have been on the show for eight seasons or more include Michael Che, Colin Jost, Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson, who is the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history.
Last summer, Beck Bennett was the only major departure, alongside Lauren Holt.
Davidson, whose exit was broken by Deadline sister title Variety, has been on SNL since 2014 as one of its youngest ever cast members. He has become one of the show’s breakout stars in recent years, co-writing and starring in The King of Staten Island and co-creating and starring, alongside Edie Falco as his mum, in Bupkis, which recently landed a straight-to-series order at Peacock.
The latter is exec produced by Lorne Michaels, who Davidson will continue to have a relationship with.
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Ahead of the finale, Davidson’s last SNL sketch was a pre-taped musical number titled Short-Ass Movie, alongside rapper Gunna, actor Simon Rex and Chris Redd.
He has largely been absent this season, appearing in only a handful of episodes as he films features including The Home. He has also been having a very high-profile relationship with Kim Kardashian.
Michaels has become increasingly flexible in terms of letting his SNL stars appear in other projects, the majority of which he exec produces himself, which means actors no longer have to leave the show to do other roles, which has been the case in the past.
McKinnon has been on the show since 2012 and was promoted to repertory player in season 39 in 2013, becoming one of the show’s other main breakout stars and winning two Emmys for her work.
It has long been rumored that she would leave over the last few years, but has continued to return, albeit not as regularly as she’d been in the past. Last week, she opened the show, playing Nicole Wallace.
McKinnon recently took some time off the show to film Tiger King scripted series Joe vs. Carole for Peacock, where she played Carole Baskin.
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Bryant joined the show in 2012 and was upped in her second season. She has played characters such as Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Ted Cruz.
Similarly, she has come and gone recently, starring in three seasons of the Michaels-exec produced Shrill for Hulu.
Mooney, meanwhile, who recently played Johnny Depp in last week’s episode, has been with the show since 2013 and was upped to repertory player at the start of the 41st season.
A rep for SNL did not return comment.
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