Friday, Aug 22, 2014 05:36 pm est

‘SNL’ faces sweeping changes

Posted on February 6, 2014 | by Bob Teoh

Heidi Gutman/ABC/Getty

Last weekend, Melissa McCarthy proved her comedic prowess again when she hosted “Saturday Night Live” for the third time. Yet the episode was largely overshadowed by the cameo appearances of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader (as Stefon), Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen, in a heartfelt farewell to veteran cast member and “Weekend Update” host Seth Meyers.

With Meyers’ departure, “SNL” faces yet another change in a bizarre season that serves as a transition between old and new.

Prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season, “SNL” lost two beloved cast members, Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig, and failed to renew cast member Abby Elliott’s contract. To fill their shoes, Vanessa Bayer, Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah were promoted to the permanent cast.

Since Bayer, Killam and Pharoah were already big players on the show, the transition was relatively smooth. However, following the conclusion of the show’s latest season, veterans Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Jason Sudeikis announced their departure from the show. Six new featured players took their places, and the “SNL” cast became much less recognizable.

“SNL’s” trouble was far from over, however, as the show quickly drew criticism for its lack of diversity. Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson, the only two African-American comedians in a 16-person cast, voiced their displeasure with the addition of six white cast members.

Pressure mounted on Lorne Michaels to add the first black female cast member on the show since Maya Rudolph’s departure in 2007. On Nov. 2, 2013, the problem was officially addressed, and a showcase audition exclusively for black female performers took place in December.

In January 2014, Sasheer Zamata, a regular at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade, known for her work on the Internet, was announced as SNL’s newest cast member. Zamata made her first appearance when Drake hosted on Jan. 18, and though her performance was lauded, her on-screen chemistry with the other cast members needs time to develop.

NBC officially announced Seth Meyers as the new host of “Late Night” long before the 2013-2014 season, giving the producers ample time to find a replacement for the anchor that has become synonymous with the “Weekend Update” fake news segment on “SNL.” Cecily Strong was brought up to co-anchor at the beginning of the season, and head writer Colin Jost is set to join the cast in March as Meyer’s successor on the desk.

With so many changes to the show, “Saturday Night Live” is simultaneously torching the old and embracing the new. Though the loss of iconic cast members makes the future of the show uncertain, its willingness to make strides towards diversity is a sign that everyone’s favorite late-night sketch comedy program has survived and is as ambitious as ever.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Feb. 6 print edition. Bob Teoh is entertainment editor. Email him at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.