EXCLUSIVE: Saturday Night Live is about to experience its biggest change in several years.
Deadline understands that a number of longtime 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 he expects this year to be a “year of change” for the series.
We learn there could be a big farewell band, featuring all four parties, at the end of tomorrow night’s episode, which is hosted by Natasha Lyonne.
That’s no huge surprise given that this season – season 47 – featured its biggest cast ever with 21 stars and eight cast members heading into 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, including Michael Che, Colin Jost, Cecily Strong, and Kenan Thompson, who is the longest-serving cast member in the history of the series.
Last summer, Beck Bennett was the only big start, alongside Lauren Holt.
Davidson, whose release was halted by sister title Deadline Variety, has been on SNL since 2014 as one of its youngest cast members. He has become one of the show’s standouts in recent years, co-writing and starring in The King of Staten Isle and co-creating and starring, alongside Edie Falco as her mother, in Bupkiswhich recently landed a straight-to-series order from Peacock.
The latter is produced by Lorne Michaels, with whom Davidson will continue to have a relationship.
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Before the final, Davidson’s last SNL sketch was a pre-recorded musical number titled Short-Ass Movie, featuring rapper Gunna, actor Simon Rex and Chris Redd.
He’s been largely absent this season, only appearing in a handful of episodes as he films feature films including The House. He also had a highly publicized relationship with Kim Kardashian.
Michaels has become increasingly flexible in letting his SNL stars appear in other projects, the majority of which he produces himself, which means that actors no longer have to leave the series to take on other roles, which was the case in the past.
McKinnon has been on the show since 2012 and was promoted to repertoire player on season 39 in 2013, becoming one of the show’s other main stars.
She was long rumored to be leaving for the past few years, but she kept coming back, just not as regularly as she had been in the past. Last week, she opened the show, playing Nicole Wallace.
McKinnon recently took some time off to film tiger king scripted series Joe versus Carol for Peacock, where she played Carole Baskin.
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Bryant joined the series in 2012 and was raised in its second season. She has played characters such as Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Ted Cruz.
Likewise, she’s been back and forth recently, starring in three seasons of the Michaels-exec produced Acute for Hulo.
Mooney, meanwhile, who most recently played Johnny Depp in last week’s episode, has been on the show since 2013 and was elevated to repertoire player at the start of the 41st season.
A representative for SNL did not return a comment.