Now we know which cast member SNL godfather Lorne Michaels has chosen to take over Weekend Update upon Seth Meyers's fast-approaching departure: it's Cecily Strong, which probably isn't a huge surprise. By most accounts, even by Meyers himself, Strong had a particularly amazing debut season at SNL, including the creation of one popular Weekend Update guest: "The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party."
In an interview with the New York Times, Michaels explained that Strong, "from the first show, was right there...She exploded.” His plan, it seems, is to have Strong share the desk with Meyers until at least February, when Meyers (who is also head writer for the show) will take over hosting duties on NBC's "Late Night." But his exact departure date from SNL's fake news desk apparently isn't set in stone. Since Michaels also produces "Late Night," it looks like he's trying to figure out a way to have the "anchor" drop in once a week for the rest of the season:
“Seth is a unique case,” Mr. Michaels said, noting that the new late-night show would not have a Friday edition, letting Mr. Meyers potentially drop in and work that day and Saturday on “Update.”
But whether Michaels gets to keep Meyers on double duty or not is still an open question. Whenever he does depart, however, Strong will be there to man the desk alone.
Meanwhile, it looks like the cast for the next season is all picked and ready to go, too, even though the show has yet to make an official announcement. By all accounts, the newbies are Brooks Wheelan (picked last week, according to the Times), Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney. John Milhiser, and Noël Wells. Longtime SNL writer Michael Patrick O’Brien will also move into the cast. They, along with the remaining cast, will have a lot of work to do after last season's mass veteran exodus. Here's what Michaels told the Times about how he picks new cast members, based on a kind of legendary audition process:
“You can’t be famous before you’re famous,” he said. “It’s one thing to be on a stage in Chicago or L.A.; it’s another thing to be standing in 8H,” he said of the show’s studio. “It’s like standing in Yankee Stadium. They can all play baseball, but this is something different. And the weight of all that was just more palpable to me this summer, more than ever before...Mr. Michaels said that he does “absolutely think about who I am replacing,” but, he added, “One thing you can’t do is look for another Kristen Wiig.” Even so, last season was a success in terms of new female talent, with Ms. Strong joined by another breakout performer, Kate McKinnon.
Michaels is also making some interesting choices for guest hosts this season, as the show looks to keep its strong-again reputation even as Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis depart. Tina Fey will guest host the season opener, while, uh, Miley Cyrus will both host and perform in early October.