Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Saturday Night Live was forced to make some major changes for the last couple of episodes of Season 45. But, the show will reportedly be back in the studio for Season 46, albeit with one major change. As Variety reported on Monday, SNL will return to the studio, likely without their typical live audience.
Variety noted that Lorne Michaels and the rest of his team are making preparations to bring SNL back to the studio in Manhattan. Considering that the coronavirus remains a problem in the United States, the NBC series will likely implement several strategies in order to keep cast and crew safe. The show will likely be filmed in a "controlled" environment without a live audience in tow. Recently, another project that Michaels oversees, The Tonight Show, went back into production in their studio, which provides for a template for how SNL could work if it does come back in the fall. The Tonight Show features host Jimmy Fallon, a socially-distanced Roots band, and a handful of crew members wearing masks. The show has had guests such as Charlize Theron call in via video.
Even though Variety has reported that there are plans underway for SNL's 46th season, NBC declined to comment on the news. NBC has yet to announce a premiere date for SNL, which typically comes back in the fall. It should also be noted that any plans for SNL depend on the status of the nation's battle with the coronavirus. If the sketch comedy series does come back, it's unclear who amongst the cast will actually return to the series. The show traditionally announces any cast changes in the lead-up to their season premiere. Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, and Aidy Bryant all have other projects in the works. So, it's uncertain whether they will be able to juggle their SNL duties along with any of their new commitments.
For the last few episodes of SNL's Season 45, they were forced to produce episodes from home. The new Saturday Night Live at Home featured the cast performing sketches from their own homes and engaging with one another via video. The episodes even featured guest hosts and musicians, as Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, and Kristen Wiig all took on hosting duties towards the end of the season. Miley Cyrus, Boyz II Men, and Chris Martin all lent their vocal talents to these re-vamped shows.