According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, NBCUniversal has now suspended its deal with Lorne Michaels’ production company, Broadway Video, following the ongoing writers’ strikes in Hollywood. The long-time creator/producer of the famed skit show Saturday Night Live has continued his work in the business despite the ongoing Writer’s Guild strike. NBCUniversal is looking to make an example of him by suspending their contract.
For the first time since 1985, Lorne Michaels has been stripped of his duties as the producer of SNL.
The suspension means that, as a producer, NBCUniversal will be halting Lorne’s pay until the strikes are resolved. The implications on the table for the future of SNL don’t look good. Michaels has been head honcho of Saturday Night Live since 1975, with the exception of a five-year gap from 1980-1985, and at the age of 78, he shows no signs of backing down from his role.
The suspension does, however, bring cause for concern for the future of SNL. As the writers and producers are the driving force behind the show’s epic comedy sketches, there are plenty of huge questions in the air for future productions. SNL has already suffered a major dip in viewership over the past year, and the news of Michaels’ canceled deal with NBCUniversal could be a pivotal nail in the show’s proverbial coffin.
With the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes shutting down all production, studios are cutting costs, and SNL just happens to be in the crossfire.
After more than 20 weeks, the writers’ strike is certainly making waves in the realm of scripted media, hinting that the future of television and movies could be quite different from its past. Without a conclusive deal on the table for more reasonable compensation, we’ve seen some high-profile names step away from their work.
Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and popular SNL alumni Tina Fey were also suspended by NBCUniversal’s Universal Studio Group. Warner Bros. Television Group suspended deals with top writers such as J.J. Abrams (Lost and Alias), Bill Lawrence (Scrubs and Ted Lasso), and Mindy Kaling (The Office and Never Have I Ever).
In light of the forced pauses, sources say that Seth MacFarlane is still working with Peacock to finish up their reboot of Ted, and Dick Wolf is keeping himself busy tricking the system by moving forward with unscripted programming. It seems the Writer’s Guild strikes will inevitably lead to an influx of reality television shows (like we need any more of those).
With SNL wrapping up its 48th season in May of 2023, the show is in a dark place concerning its return. For now, there is no certain release date for the show’s 49th season, which would push the show past its 950th episode. Fans of Saturday Night Live will have to watch and see what happens in the coming weeks.
NBCUniversal suspended Dwayne Johnson and Tina Fey’s ongoing contracts, making it clear that SNL isn’t being targeted; it’s all ongoing projects in the wake of the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
For now, Lorne Michaels remains headstrong in his regard for his beloved comedy series to continue. However, the 78-year-old’s career has seen loads of success and accomplishment over the years, begging the question, “What more does he have to fight for?” He could retire tomorrow and finish out his years as a god of his craft.
In the meantime, you can find past episodes of Saturday Night Live on streaming channels NBC and Peacock, and be on the lookout for more news regarding the next season’s premiere.