Live from New York, it’s a much smaller Saturday Night Live. NBC confirms to Us Weekly that the cast will be downsized and live audience removed amid concerns about the rise in positive COVID-19 cases.
“Due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience for tonight’s taping of Saturday Night Live and the show will have limited cast and crew,” a spokesperson for SNL said in a statement to Us on Saturday, December 18. “The show continues to follow government safety guidelines in addition to a rigorous testing protocol.”
The announcement was made at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, less than seven hours before the broadcast. It isn’t clear which cast members will be included in season 46, episode 9. Paul Rudd is set to host from Studio 8H, marking his fifth time hosting, but musical guest Charli XCX has announced her performances — which would have included special guests Caroline Polacheck as well as Christine and the Queens — were canceled.
“Due to the limited crew at tonight’s taping of SNL my musical performances will no longer be able to go ahead. I am devastated and heartbroken,” the singer, 29, shared via Instagram on Saturday afternoon. “Myself, Caroline, Christine and all of our crews and teams have worked so hard all week alongside the SNL team to bring the most amazing musical performance to live. It can’t happen this time, but I’ll be back! I am verdantly safe and healthy but of course very sad. Please look after yourselves out there and make sure you get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Lots of love, Charli.”
SNL’s scaling down comes amid skyrocketing positive COVID-19 cases in New York City have forced various other productions to close their doors. Broadway shows including Hamilton, Moulin Rouge!, Jagged Little Pill and more have gone dark amid breakthrough cases of the delta and omicron variants. Even The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes unexpectedly closed. MSG Entertainment announced on Friday, December 19, that the Rockettes took their last bow for 2021 more than two weeks ahead of schedule.
“We had hoped we could make it through the season and are honored to have hosted hundreds of thousands of fans at more than 100 shows over the last seven weeks,” MSG Entertainment said in a statement. “We have loved bringing back this cherished tradition that helps usher in the holiday season in New York City and look forward to welcoming fans back to Radio City Music Hall in 2022.”
After the downsized December 18 episode, the Saturday Night Live cast will go on their traditional holiday hiatus. The comedy is expected to return to NBC in January.
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