“Saturday Night Live” will return tonight, but not from the famed Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
NBC said that the late-night comedy show, which has been off the air for several weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, will air original content on Saturday — but “with material produced by a staff working remotely,” Variety reported.
NBC’s Dylan Byers also reported “[t]he show will include a version of ‘Weekend Update’ and other skits from cast members, although it was not immediately clear whether the performances will be live.”
And actor Tom Hanks — who contracted the virus along with his wife while in Australia — “may be involved.”
“#Break: ‘Saturday Night Live’ will be *live* this weekend. Skits will be produced remotely and will include ‘Weekend Update,’ NBC says. On a call, NBC chief Jeff Shell said Tom Hanks may be involved, source familiar tells me. NBC would not confirm that,” Byers wrote on Twitter.
#Break: “Saturday Night Live” will be *live* this weekend. Skits will be produced remotely and will include “Weekend Update,” NBC says. On a call, NBC chief Jeff Shell said Tom Hanks may be involved, source familiar tells me. NBC would not confirm that. https://t.co/ehHDp5Np2e
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) April 9, 2020
The uber-liberal show is likely champing at the bit to get back to hitting President Donald Trump (often played by actor Alec Baldwin). Many lives shows, especially the morning shows that air on the main networks, have featured hosts working remotely, but for SNL, there won’t be the same energy as a live show, Variety wrote.
“‘SNL’ will be the latest of TV’s late-night shows to chart a return to original performance after the spread of coronavirus has made traditional production of the shows impossible. For decades, ‘SNL’ and its weekday brethren have relied on in-studio audiences to lend energy and atmosphere to the process of telling jokes, doing sketches and hosting celebrities. Already, NBC’s Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers -both of whom hold forth on programs that are under the aegis of ‘SNL’ executive producer Lorne Michaels – have returned to production with shows that have them perched at home with celebrity interviews conducted via broadband video,” the mag wrote.
“SNL” won’t be out of its element. The show has always used elements taped in advance, whether they feature John Belushi in a fake commercial for “Li’l Chocolate Donuts” cereal; Andy Samberg doing an “SNL Digital Short”; or Kate McKinnon playing presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway terrorizing CNN anchors like Jake Tapper or Anderson Cooper. In recent seasons, the program has come to rely more heavily on pieces that are taped in advance, the better to compete with more sophisticated efforts from other late-night programs.
The series has helped Americans process other moments of tragedy. In 2001, Paul Simon played “The Boxer” in front of various New York first responders and then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, part of a bid to get the program back on the air after 9/11. In 2017, musical guest Jason Aldean played the Tom Petty single “I Won’t Back Down” as a means of paying tribute to victims of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Petty had just passed away, and Aldean opened the program with a few words about the tragedy.
But the new format might not help out the show, which many now find too political — and not very funny.
“Saturday Night Live returns this weekend with a remotely produced show; still won’t be remotely funny,” comedian Joe DeVito said.
Saturday Night Live returns this weekend with a remotely produced show; still won't be remotely funny
— Joe DeVito (@JoeDeVitoComedy) April 9, 2020