Tuesday, August 31, 2010

EDitorial: Why all the new hires on SNL? And who might get the cut.

So Lorne just hired three new performers and a batch of new writers as Will Forte leaves SNL (voluntarily) and some writers leave as well.

And this helps prove my theory correct. Assuming Lorne isn't announcing any cuts this season, then Lorne is expecting an exodus (whether natural or prodded on). This makes sense, seeing how last season we had three featured players, and the other 8 performers (Kristen, Bill, Jason, Andy, Kenan, Fred, Seth, & Will) are now approaching at least 6 years (this is Seth's 10th season and Fred's 9th). So what that typically means is that Lorne has to be ready so that he doesn't repeat the 1979 travesty (that is where all his last performers gave in their final season, and the next season Lorne tried to scramble together the writers to be performers, the audience didn't care as much and Lorne got replaced; Lorne came back with a vengeance in 1985).

And what "ready" means is that he needs other performers out there that the audience likes, so that if his four big stars left in the same season, he still has a good show. Makes sense. He did the same thing in 2005 by bringing in Jason, Andy, Bill, and Kristen (all were huge hits). Of course that gave him 16 players!!! Wow, talk about fighting for air time!

The down-side of this strategy is that if he doesn't get an exodus, and the new guys rock and roll (like they did in 2005), then he has to do what he did in the 2006-2007 season... let some of his older players go (Sanz, Parnell, and Finesse Mitchell). And then that season Fey and Dratch also left. So between a 2-person exodus and letting three people go (I agree with all three cuts and I don't think Dratch added enough), he was left 11 cast members (and no featured players) in the 2006-2007 season.

(In fact, that's why there are reruns and specials during the SNL season... because the studio told Lorne that he has to cut more cast or cut episodes... so he's choosing to keep as many cast members as he can.)

So... here is my prediction about how it's going to go down...

This season, Abby, Bobby, Nasim, and these new players really prove themselves. I mean check out the Scrubs Interns episode with Taran Killam. He stole that show. If SNL didn't pick him up, someone would have handed him his own sitcom after something like that. The webisode was almost like an audition to SNL, what with the impressions, the touchy-feely shtick, and the dance off (not to mention the awkwardness on camera that he faked). Plus the dude has been on Scrubs, MadTV, and he used to be in the Groundlings (like Will Ferrell and others).

If the other two can pull off humor like that then we've got a new future for SNL. ...And a potential repeat of 2006 on SNL (where Lorne is going to hope for an exodus or else he has to cut a few off).

Last season, there were 12 players on SNL, and now they're adding an additional 3. Subtract Will Forte (who recently announced that he's choosing to leave), and we're left with 14 players.

Next year, the 2011-2012 season, if no one leaves, then Lorne might have to let someone go.

Kenan Thompson is entering his 8th season right now, Fred Armisen: his 9th, and Seth Meyers: his 10th. This is Jason Sudeikis' 7th, and 6th for Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, and Kristen Wiig.

So Kristen Wiig has a chance to break out in films with her Bridesmaids film (and she's been supporting in dozens of films, so she has what it takes), Jason Sudeikis has been a late bloomer, but he's been on 30 Rock 12 times now, Cleveland Show 19 times, a larger part in Bounty Hunter, and he's got a great lineup of films coming, including a starring role that could break him out. And I think while Lorne is in no hurry to lose Andy Samberg, The Lonely Island would merely have to say to Lorne, "We want you to produce our show," and then BAM - Andy's gone and on his own show.

And then Fred Armisen might leave SNL simply because he knows that he should leave before he gets cut in order to save some face. (I could see Fred supporting on a sitcom, but he couldn't lead a film.)

Meanwhile Bill Hader is racking up the supporting roles, but he's failing to line up a potential break-out role (not sure why he didn't muster some momentum from his awesome Super Bad performance opposite Seth Rogen to pitch Seth a buddy comedy).

Kenan Thompson continues supporting roles (he's Greedy in Smurfs), but he's already had his chance to star in films twice, so he probably knows that supporting film roles and SNL are as good as it gets for him (unless he can land a supporting role on a sitcom).

I see Seth Meyers sticking it out on SNL until he's given a high-profile talk show gig. With the NBC debaucle, Lorne probably couldn't get him one, so Seth would probably need to land it on his own and not on NBC. Lorne has no reason to cut him since he's popular and only on Weekend Update.

So these are the people who might leave because they're pursuing TV, film, or saving face, in order of how likely I think they are to leave after the 2010-2011 season...

1. Kristen Wiig (to a sitcom or films)
2. Jason Sudeikis (to a sitcom or films)
3. Andy Samberg (to his own skit show with TLI or doing music full-time)
4. Fred Armisen (to save face and pursue smaller projects, like Will Forte just did)

And then here are the cuts that I see likely if Lorne is forced to let someone go (listed in order; note that I love these people and think they're hilarious, so don't get me wrong; it's more about the business of it):

1. Fred Armisen (his Obama impression is his insurance, but it won't last forever)
2. Kenan Thompson (being the only black cast member is his insurance, but it won't last forever)
3. Jenny Slate (if she makes it to this coming season, she will probably be the female cast member with the most to prove, especially because Vanessa Bayer looks spunky, fresh, and super creative)

I don't think Lorne will let these people go that I'm listing below (in order of how valuable they are to him):

1. Kristen Wiig (come on; she's the Eddie Murphy of the female cast)
2. Andy Samberg (the dude put YouTube on the map, his fan base is through the roof, his record(s) sell, and he seems to get nominated for an Emmy (or Grammy) every year; if Lorne was thinking of letting him go, he'd just drop Andy down to the Digital Shorts only before he'd ever let Andy go)
3. Bobby Moynihan, Abby Elliott, and Nasim Pedrad (Lorne needs fresh blood and a future to SNL, and these are them)
4. Jason Sudeikis (Jason is a do-all straight man and very charming; with Will Forte out of the picture, Jason needs to be there to fill that role)
5. Bill Hader (Bill has some great impressions, a huge fan base, and he's also a do-all actor; plus he hasn't been around as long as Fred and Kenan)
6. Seth Meyers (he's been around forever, but he's only on Weekend Update and he's still super popular; the only reason to let him go is if a producer wanted to move on because they didn't like him as the head writer or something)

So again, it falls on Fred Armisen, Kenan Thompson, and Jenny Slate as the most likely candidates to get cut (if the need arose).

What do you think?



Anonymous said...

i dont think anyone else will get cut. i think theyre bringing in 3 to replace will forte like they did when jimmy fallon left. thats how we got andy after all

Anonymous said...

i agree that fred will probably be the next to go only because hes been on for so long, however while obama is still in office they dont have anyone else to play him.

im gunna make a prediction that someone else will join seth at the weekend update desk this season maybe a kristen or abby and the cycle will continue. anyway, it kinda feels like hes been by himself too long anyway. does anyone know the recond of the longest solo anchor for weekend update? i feel like he may be the longest!

Ed Price said...

Anony 1,

Ah but they brought in three to try them out. Once they realized they liked all four (Jason, Bill, Andy, & Kristen), in the 06-07 season, they realized they had to let 3 people go (in addition to Fey and Dratch leaving). So they let go Parnell, Sanz, and Mitchell. That's my point.

If more people don't exit by the 2011-2012 season, then Lorne might have to let 1-3 people go, and I think Fred, Kenan, and Jenny are the next in line.


Ed Price said...

Anony 2,

I disagree with your prediction. There was a huge online rumor when Amy left that Kristen would join Seth at the Weekend Update desk. Seth squashed those rumors and said that Brian Williams gave him the advice to not take a co-anchor on if he wanted any respect.

So the circumstances haven't changed. I don't think Seth will take on a co-host. It's not in his best interest, and Lorne and the producers don't care because he's popular (he hosted the ESPYs this year) and the head writer.


Ed Price said...

Oh and another reason Seth gave was so that the players could concentrate on their great guest appearances. Seth uses those a ton, so that makes sense.


Ed Price said...

And regarding how long Seth has been the Weekend Update Anchor... he's starting his 5th season (so he's only had 4 seasons), but this will be only his 2nd full season as the sole anchor (a little longer than that, cuz Amy Poehler left mid season).

Amy Poehler was co-anchor for 5 seasons. Tina Fey was co-anchor for 6 seasons. Jimmy Fallon was co-anchor for 4 seasons. Colin Quinn was the sole anchor for 3 seasons (those were terrible). Norm MacDonald was the sole anchor for 4 seasons. Kevin Nealon for 3 years. Dennis Miller for 6 years (85-91). Christopher Guest for 1 year (84-85). Brad Hall was 2 years (82-84). Mary Gross and Brian Doyle-Murray co-anchored for 1 year (81-82). Jane Curtain mostly co-anchored for 4 years (76-80). Bill Murray co-anchored for 2 years (78-80). Dan Aykroyd co-anchored for 1 year (77-78). Chevy Chase anchored for 2 years (75-76).

Jane Curtain is a complicated story. She took over for Chevy Chase when he left in 76. Then in the next season (77-78), she co-anchored with Dan Aykroyd. Then they switched from Dan to Bill Murray and Jane co-anchored with Bill. So Jane has 4 years in her, but 1 wasn't a full year and 3 were as the co-anchor.

Kevin Nealon did the Subliminal News (check it out if you haven't).

So the answer to who anchored the longest (including as co-anchor):
1. Dennis Miller (6 seasons)
1. Tina Fey (6 seasons)
2. Amy Poehler (5 seasons)
3. Jane Curtain (4 seasons)
3. Norm MacDonald (4 seasons)
3. Jimmy Fallon (4 seasons)
3. Seth Meyers (4 seasons)
4. Kevin Nealon (3 seasons)
4. Colin Quinn (3 seasons)
5. Chevy Chase (2 seasons)
5. Bill Murray (2 seasons)
5. Brad Hall (2 seasons)
6. Dan Aykroyd (1 season)
6. Mary Gross (1 season)
6. Brian Doyle-Murray (1 season)
6. Christopher Guest (1 season)

Seth needs two more seasons (including this coming one) to tie with Dennis and Tina; 3 to win. Both Dennis and Tina were co-anchors in their first season, so each was only on SNL for 6 seasons. (So Seth and most of the others have the disadvantage that their first year on SNL was not as an anchor.)

Tina Fey was the only featured player to start as an anchor. (But she was the head writer at that point, so obviously Lorne was willing to take a chance with her.)

The only family members to both be anchors were Billy Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray (brothers). There have been other relatives as players, but not anchors... Belushis, Murrays, Aykroyds, Sweeneys, and Elliotts. They were all siblings except for Chris and Abby Elliott (father/daughter).

It's interesting that a lot of people thought that having Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon co-anchor was a new idea, but that first started in 1977 (3rd season) with Jane Curtain and Dan Aykroyd and continued with Jane and Bill Murray.

So if we were going to rank them for how long they anchored only as sole anchors (not co-anchors), then we have:
1. Dennis Miller (6 seasons)
2. Norm MacDonald (4 seasons)
3. Kevin Nealon (3 seasons)
3. Colin Quinn (3 seasons)
4. Chevy Chase (2 seasons)
4. Brad Hall (2 seasons)
5. Jane Curtain (1 season)
5. Seth Meyers (1 season)
5. Christopher Guest (1 season)

So if we're going by that scale, Seth doesn't have a chance. There's no way he's got 5 more years in him. =^)


Anonymous said...

You forgot Horatio (idk how to spell it) Sanz in your list.. If he counts :)

Ed Price said...


That's right! Horatio Sanz co-anchored with Amy in 05-06 after Tina left and before he was let go (and then replaced with Seth).


Anonymous said...

awesome! I spelled it right :]

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