Now there’s four out the door.
Jason Sudeikis confirmed Wednesday at a “Late Show with David Letterman” taping that he will not be returning for the 2013-14 season. He joins Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, who signaled their departures when the 38th season concluded. To make matters worse, “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers steps out midseason to get his own late-night show on NBC.
Yes, “SNL” has weathered its fair share of cast defections over its long run but this is a huge talent drain for the franchise to suffer all at once.
Because “SNL” has such a broad ensemble, you might figure the series could sustain their losses. But all four of these men were featured attractions on this show. Any one of them leaving at any time is problematic; all together, it’s big trouble.
It might have come as some surprise that Sudeikis would leave considering the considerable leverage he would have in negotiations with “SNL” impresario Lorne Michaels, who would presumably be desperate to pay up to retain some semblance of stability.
This wasn’t the first time Sudeikis had Michaels by the short hairs; he was on the verge of leaving last season as well but stuck around despite the fact he’s had a bustling movie career going for quite some time now. His next film, “We’re the Millers,” comes out next month.
The quadruple exit leaves “SNL” in the unenviable position of having to recruit multiple new gentlemen. Even if all the new entries turn out to be the next Will Ferrells, it’s a lot of new blood to take in at once. Few new cast members ever have an instant impact on “SNL”; it can take years for rookies to really grow into their own skin.
That said, this is not assured destruction by any means. There is a second-tier of male cast members on this show that are no slouches. Taran Killam has seemed like a star in the making for quite some time now; this coming season could be the year he really comes into his own. Bobby Moynihan and Jay Pharoah are solid players, too.
But none of them are stars. Michaels may want to consider a move he’s made only a few times over the run of “SNL” and rather than recruit untested freshmen, draft someone with experience, as he’s done in the past with Michael McKean and Chris Elliott. Granted, those aren’t exactly exemplary casting decisions but in theory there’s still some potential in the concept if done correctly.
It’s your move, Lorne. Better make it count.