Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels is thinking about leaving the comedy sketch show. He has been working on the series since its debut in 1975. Michaels left his duties in 1980 but returned five years later. He’s been at the helm of the popular late-night series ever since. But at 77 years old he’s thinking about the future and his retirement. In a recent interview with CBS Mornings, Michaels discussed the idea of leaving Saturday Night Live after its 50th anniversary in 2024. “You know, I think I’m committed to doing this show until its 50th anniversary, which is in three years,” he told Gayle King. “I’d like to see that through and I have a feeling that’d be a really good time to leave.”
Michaels added that he would never want Saturday Night Live to be bad because he cares too deeply about it. Since it’s his life work, he plans to do everything he can to see it carry on well. The SNL boss has obviously given the idea some serious thought, as he already has a replacement in mind for when he’s ready to leave Studio 8H. But when asked for a specific name, he declined to answer since it’s still three years away.
This isn’t the first time Lorne Michaels has mentioned leaving Saturday Night Live on its 50th anniversary. During an appearance on NBC’s Today Show in 2020, he hinted at the same thing. Speaking thoughtfully, he said he plans to stick around for the 50th – if he’s able to see it through. Michaels added that by that point, he really deserves to wander off into retirement.
Saturday Night Live has been a staple of weekend late-night television for decades. The comedy sketch show is also known for kick-starting the careers of legendary comedians like Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, and Adam Sandler. Their ever-growing list of stars also includes Andy Samberg, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ana Gastayer, and Maya Rudolph.
Over its six-decade run, Saturday Night Live has become a cultural institution with numerous awards including 86 Primetime Emmys, four Writers Guild of America Awards, and two Peabody Awards. And Michaels has been an integral part of that success, yet he insists that the show can move forward without him. The show’s format has been developed and recreated in several countries, but none of them have reached the same level of popularity.
In 2000 Saturday Night Live was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The series is also ranked tenth in TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time list. Unfortunately, the show’s live aspect has resulted in several controversies and acts of censorship, with mistakes and intentional acts of sabotage by some performers and guests.
Saturday Night Live has also faced extraordinary challenges due to the ongoing global pandemic. Paul Rudd’s hosting gig was a little marred this week as the show went on with a limited cast. There was also no audience in light of the Omicron variant spiking in New York City. Kenan Thompson and Michael Che were the only cast members on set. And most portions of the show were pre-recorded. The 48th season of Saturday Night Live will premiere in the fall of 2022.