In a season boosted by a political climate that has thrust the satirical Saturday Night Live into the mainstream news spotlight on a weekly basis, the venerable sketch comedy show will sprint to the finish line with a broadcast strategy unprecedented in its 42-season existence: Episodes that will broadcast live… everywhere.
NBC has announced that Saturday Night Live will broadcast the remainder of the Season 42 live nationally across all time zones, airing at 11:30 pm ET, 9:30 pm MT and 8:30 pm PT, with Mountain and Pacific zones also getting encore airings in the traditional local time of 11:30 pm. While the show returns from a brief hiatus on April 8 with host Louis C.K. and musical guests The Chainsmokers, the live-for-all experiment starts with the April 15 episode to be hosted by cast alumnus and The Tonight Show desk occupant Jimmy Fallon. As NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt explains of the move in a statement:
“SNL — enjoying its most popular season in two decades — is part of the national conversation, and we thought it would be a great idea to broadcast to the west and mountain time zones live at the same time it’s being seen in the east and central time zones. That way, everyone is in on the joke at the same time. Kudos to Lorne Michaels, the producers and cast for making SNL one of the most relevant and anticipated shows in the zeitgeist.”
In addition to that revelation, the identity of the celebs who will field hosting duties for the rest of SNL’s live-for-all run have been announced with Star Trek’s cinematic Captain Kirk set to promote his co-starring role in Wonder Woman Chris Pine (May 6), comedy goddess and recurring Sean-Spicer-spoofing guest Melissa McCarthy (May 13) and a season finale toplined by a wrestler-turned-actor who was recently declared by Forbes as the industry’s top-earning star of 2016 (with $64.5 million,) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (May 20). – Musical guests to be announced later.
While Saturday Night Live – a perennial mainstay of Studio 8H in New York City’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza – touts its late-night live-broadcasting nature in its very title (after launching in 1975 as “NBC’s Saturday Night”), viewers west of the Eastern Standard time zone have always been made to play catch-up, watching, what is in some cases, hours-old footage of a purportedly “live” show. Thus, it will be interesting to see what comes of this live-for-all strategy and if it’s something they would consider adapting in the future.