Saturday Night Live without its guiding light, producer Lorne Michaels, may be unthinkable to some. But something may be brewing.
Kenan Thompson, speaking on Charlamagne tha God’s ‘Hell of a Week’ podcast, thought that when SNL celebrates its 50th anniversary in the 2024-25 season, it might be time to put it to bed. Michaels is 77, and there has been speculation — including some from Michaels — that he plans to retire when SNL hits the milestone.
“Rumor is that the show is ending in its 50th season because Mr. Lorne Michaels doesn’t want to do it after 80 years. Is that true?” Charlamagne asked Thompson.
“Is that the rumour?” Thompson replied. “Alright, I have to start planning.”
Michaels served as SNL’s showrunner throughout its run, except for a five-year stint in the mid-1980s.
“That rumor could have a lot of validity, because 50 is a good number to stop at,” Thompson said. “It’s an incredible set. He’ll probably be close to 80 by then, and, you know, he’s had his say.
“So if somebody’s trying to put themselves in their shoes, you know, it’s a good opportunity for NBC to save some money as well, you know what I mean? [NBC] could cut the budget and then you can’t really do the same kind of show. So it’s unfair to see it collapsing for real because of these restrictions… Capping it at 50 might not be a bad idea,” he said.
“[Michaels] is such a legend that he keeps those corporate wolves away, if you will,” Thompson added. “They spend a lot of money on this show every week. It’s an expensive show, but it’s a one-of-a-kind thing.
Michaels himself has indicated he plans to end his run in 2025.
“You know, I think I’m committed to doing this show until its 50th birthday, which is three years from now,” the Canadian-born artist said in December 2021. “I’d love to see this through to the end , and I have a feeling it would be a really good time to leave. But… I don’t want the show to be bad. I care too deeply about it. It’s been my life’s work. So I’m going all out. do to keep it going.”