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SNL Might Be Shooting its 46th Season in Studio

Production in New York City starts rolling again as coronavirus bans are slowly lifted

Krutika Mallikarjuna

After producing a handful of socially distanced episodes where cast members shot sketches over Zoom during the first wave of coronavirus, Lorne Michaels and his crew might be moving back into Rockefeller Center for SNL's 46th season this fall. 

Variety reports that according to two sources close to the matter, Michaels is in conversation with staff to see how a live show could be produced in a safe way during the pandemic. Details are still unavailable, but likely the first step will be eliminating a studio audience. 

Other late-night shows likeThe Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon -- another Michaels production -- have already returned to shooting in-studio. Fallon doesn't shoot with a studio audience, has his house band (The Roots) play from socially distance spaces, and interviews guests over video conferencing. The only people working with him on set are camera operators and other vital stagehands who are required to wear masks at all times. 

That level of containment might not be feasible for a series as sprawling as SNL, which has 15 main cast members and a handful of featured players, but with the upcoming election it's no surprise that Michaels wants to move the show back to its production stages. New York allowed TV and film productions to return to set on July 20, four months after all local shoots were shut down to the pandemic.

SNL is available to stream on Hulu.