'SNL' Suffered Key Shakeup Behind the Scenes Ahead of 2022 Premiere

Saturday Night Live's 2022 will be a bit different than expected. The sketch comedy series, which returns from its winter break tonight with host Ariana DeBose and musical guest Bleachers, will be without one of its head writers, Anna Drezen. In December, Drezen announced on Instagram that she will not be returning to SNL due to her commitments to her Freeform show, Praise Petey.

Drezen posted 10 photos which she said summed up her time working on SNL. She wrote: "Bye SNL! I am leaving the show to focus on my show at Freeform. Was going to post a joke but I don't do those anymore. I learned a lot. Got to meet a lot of animals and people. There is nowhere like it. Lotta pressure to pick the right pictures to represent 5.5 years and this is what I came up with, how'd I do?"

Drezen joined SNL as a staff writer in 2016 and was promoted to supervising writer two years later, according to a report by Deadline. She rose to head writer just last year in September of 2020, sharing the lauded title with Colin Jost, Michael Che and Kent Sublette.

At the same time, Drezen has worked on shows including Girls5Eva on Peacock and Praise Petey, which has given her options. Praise Petey is new, and is the first animated series Freeform has ever picked up – although it ordered two others at the same time. It is about a New York City girl who moves back to her small hometown and tries to "modernize" her father's local cult.

The voice cast of the show will include Schitt's Creek star Annie Murphy, Cowboy Bebop star John Cho, The Flash star Kiersey Clemons, The Good Wife star Christine Baranski, Magnum P.I. star Amy Hill and Barry star Stephen Root. Drezen is creator and executive producer of the series along with EPs Monica Padrick and Mike Judge, according to a report by Variety. She told the outlet: "I can't believe I get to make this show with so many funny and smart people. Getting to work with Monica, Bandera, Freeform, ShadowMachine, 20th Television Animation and this amazing cast has been a blast and dream – a bleam. This rules."

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"Anna Drezen's comedic voice and her POV on life and pop culture are perfect for Freeform," said the network's executive vice president of programming and development, Jamila Hunter. "Entering the animation space in partnership with prolific creators like Mike, Greg, Anna, Monica and Dustin is like arriving at a party with the coolest kids in town. We can't wait to share their hilarious show with our audience."

Praise Petey is expected to go into production in early 2022, with no premiere date just yet. SNL is on hiatus, and will return sometime in January without Drezen.