Pete Davidson won’t be live from New York on this particular Saturday night.
The “Saturday Night Live” cast member has been cleared to work on the production of “The Home,” the Miramax horror movie being directed by James DeMonaco, according to two people familiar with the matter. A spokesperson for “SNL” could not be reached for immediate comment. Cast and crew just completed the show’s regular dress rehearsal in Studio 8H in NBC’s New York headquarters, part of the series’ much-followed broadcast ritual.
Davidson is the latest member of the venerable NBC program’s cast to take a leave of absence to tend to other projects, part of a recent overhaul by executive producer Lorne Michaels. In decades past, cast members kept close to the show in most instances. Since last season, however, Michaels has granted the cast, several of whom have been with him for multiple cycles, new leeway to tackle other pursuits — many of them under the aegis of his Broadway Video production company.
Cecily Strong, for example, was given leave last season to take part in Apple’s “Schmigadoon,” while Aidy Bryant was able to take some weeks to help finish a new cycle of Hulu’s “Shrill,” both produced under Michaels’ auspices. Kate McKinnon was absent for most of the first half of the current season of “SNL” to take part in a movie, but has since returned. Strong also recently appeared in an off-Broadway revival of “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe,” a one-person show originally built around Lily Tomlin.
Davidson is one of the most scrutinized members of the current “SNL” cast. Since joining “SNL” in 2014 he has developed his range on the show, moving from appearances on “Weekend Update” to doing multiple taped sketches and playing figures like former New York governor Andrew Cuomo.
As more TV viewers migrate to streaming services to watch their favorite scripted dramas and comedies on demand, “SNL” has taken on new importance for NBC. Once relegated to airing after the late local news in a time slot network executives didn’t consider paramount, the program now runs live across the U.S. all at once, meaning that it runs in primetime in certain parts of the country. The show in the 2020-2021 season was the most-watched entertainment program on TV among viewers between 18 and 49, the demographic most preferred by advertisers.
In “The Home,” Davidson plays Max, a troubled worker at a retirement home who discovers terrible secrets about the facility. Production on the movie was scheduled to start in January. DeMonaco was also director of “The Purge.”
Tonight’s “SNL” broadcast is expected to be hosted by comedian John Mulaney, marking his fifth turn in that role since 2018. Mulaney was a writer at “SNL” for four seasons.