Was Kanye West Booked for ‘SNL’ Season Premiere Because Ariana Grande Dropped Out?

Show boss Lorne Michaels said so, but a source close to the show suggests otherwise.

Kanye West
Brent N Clarke/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

In a recent interview with “Saturday Night Live” boss Lorne Michaels, he said that Kanye West was not the first choice as the musical guest on this weekend’s season premiere: Michaels says it was Ariana Grande.

However, a source close to the show tells Variety that Grande’s appearance was never confirmed.

Some 52 minutes into the “Origins With James Andrew Miller” podcast (listen below), Michaels says that West was booked only after Grande pulled out “for emotional reasons.”

“We had Ariana [Grande] drop out for emotional reasons two days ago,” Michaels says, although it is unclear when the interview was conducted (West was announced on Sept. 17). “That’s our premiere, and then Kanye stepped up, and he’ll be there.”

Michaels may have been referring to Grande’s former boyfriend Mac Miller, who was found dead of an apparent drug overdose on Sept. 7.

The singer has had a challenging couple of years, which have included not just Miller’s death but also the May 2017 terrorist attack on her concert in Manchester, England. However, just two weeks later she headlined the emotional “One Love Manchester” all-star concert in the city, and last month released her very well-received fourth studio album, “Sweetener.”

The singer’s recent social-media posts have reflected that dichotomy, veering between a couple of touching reminisces for Miller, cheerful posts and ones like yesterday’s — possibly inspired by the Brent Kavanaugh hearings — which says “can i pls have one okay day. just one. pls.”