Cast members on SNL come and go, but one person has stuck it out since the start (minus a five-year stretch in the ‘80s, that is): Lorne Michaels, its creator, producer, and steward. He’s long been the boss of it all, shepherding its cast, staff, and guests along, occasionally banning someone for life (or, in Elvis Costello’s case, for about two decades). He’s also 77 years old, so it’s no surprise that he’s finally thinking about retiring…in a few years. Maybe.
“You know, I think I’m committed to doing this show until its 50th anniversary, which is in three years,” Michaels said on CBS Mornings (as caught by The Hollywood Reporter). “I’d like to see that through and I have a feeling that’d be a really good time to leave. But … I won’t want the show ever to be bad. I care too deeply about it. It’s been my life’s work. So I’m going to do everything I can to see it carry on.”
When asked if he could even imagine a Michaels-less SNL, he replied, “Of course,” then added, cryptically, “I have a sense of where we’re headed with that, you know.” When asked if he had an idea of who could ever replace him, he demurred. “I’m not going to go on about it — it’s three years away.”
It’s not the first time Michaels has publicly toyed with retiring. In fact, he discussed this very plan back in 2020 on NBC’s Today. “My plan — and I’m not sure that I’ll see it through — but my plan is to be here for the 50th … and then by that point, I really deserve to wander off,” he said.
The news comes mere days after the final SNL of 2021, which wound up having to be dramatically reworked at the last minute thanks to a spike in COVID cases, likely exacerbated by the Omicron variant. Most of the cast and crew were sent home and the majority of the episode was either pre-taped sketches or older replays. Host Paul Rudd still received his “Five Timers Club” robe, and for mostly just showing up and doing a few quick intros here and there.
Michaels left the show in 1980, handing it over to Jean Doumanian, who lasted only one season. She was replaced by Dick Ebersol, who handed the reins back to Michaels in 1985. He’s been there ever since. Over his combined 41-year tenure, Michaels has won 20 Emmys. He also produced Kids in the Hall, in his native Canada. In any case, you won’t have to say goodbye to him till at least 2025.