‘Saturday Night Live’ Fires Cast Member – Are More Changes on the Way? [Updated] 

Published 10 months ago by

brooks wheelan saturday night live Saturday Night Live Fires Cast Member   Are More Changes on the Way? [Updated] 

[Update: More recent SNL employees have been let go.]

It’s a sad thing for the unfortunate souls who don’t make it, but Lorne Michaels’ Saturday Night Live has never been big on social promotions. Ever-confident in the show’s repeatedly demonstrated ability to absorb any loss, Michaels clearly doesn’t feel a need to hold hands or groom prospects. But while you can’t really question the track-record, it’s worth noting that there are a lot of highly successful former Saturday Night Live players who went one and done. People who just weren’t right for that show and that universe.

For Brooks Wheelan’s sake, we hope that he joins that list after receiving his walking papers yesterday; after a mostly impact-free debut season on Saturday Night Live, though, we can’t blame Michaels for cutting the former stand-up comedian loose.

Brought in initially as a writer before being quickly pushed to the cast as a featured player before last season (to help make up for the departure of what Michaels would later call “four leading men”), Wheelan got the “throw him into the deep end of the pool” brand of swimming lesson. But while many of his fellow rookies found their niche, Wheelan never really did. There were high points like his desk pieces (which played to his stand-up roots), but his character work lagged and he mostly stuck to the background in those instances when he made it onto the screen.

Michaels warned, in an interview with Deadline back in early June, that the show was still “rebuilding” and that there would be further changes made to the show after they welcomed a total of eight new featured players to the cast last season (including mid-season adds Sasheer Zamata and Colin Jost). Wheelan is just one departure, but we’re wondering if someone else – or somebodies –  could be next.

brooks wheelan saturday night live leslie Saturday Night Live Fires Cast Member   Are More Changes on the Way? [Updated] 

Could it be John Milhiser, another rookie who failed to make much of a dent? How about Noël Wells? I previously assumed that she would be safe, but her fade as the season went on might give Michaels pause in that she eventually became the least impressive female cast member in a crowded field and sometimes, momentum matters. That’s why I still think Mike O’Brien is safe after a strong second half, but anything is possible.

UPDATE: Well, it turns out at least some of those concerns were right on the money. Deadline is now reporting that neither John Milhiser’s nor Noël Wells’ SNL contract is being renewed, while “discussions are underway” to determine if Mike O’Brien will continue to be a part of the show.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Michaels might push out a veteran cast member to really shake things up, but there really are no established cast members that fall below competency and everyone already assumes that Nasim Pedrad will leave at some point for Mulaney.

Michaels’ rebuilding effort doesn’t just have to be about “addition by subtraction” either. While the cast was huge last season, there is no set rule that limits Michaels from bringing in a couple more players to see what he can get out of them. Leslie Jones, who was brought in at mid-season as a writer, made waves in her on-screen appearance last season; despite the controversy, she was electric and her movie career has since taken off, with a role in the Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis starring Loomis Fargo – among other projects this summer.

After watching Michael Che walk out the door to The Daily Show, it would be nice to see Saturday Night Live be proactive and elevate a rising star before they break out through the ceiling. Still, if Michaels sees the spark in someone else and decides to bring in another group of mostly unknown comic performers, who are we to question King Midas?

Saturday Night Live returns for its 40th season this fall on Saturday nights @11:30PM on NBC.

Source: Twitter

Update Source: Deadline

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
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  1. Brooks Wheelan, Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Michael O’Brien, John Milhiser…I can’t put a face with any of those names.

    In fact, I thought Beck Bennett was actually Brooks Wheelan and that this article had the wrong staffer’s picture. After Googling the cast, I now know I was wrong.

    • Beck Bennett was in the AT&T commercials with the kindergartners before getting added to the cast and he had a recurring character in the baby boss sketches. I wasn’t a fan of them, but seemed to be somewhat popular since he got a few chances with it. I think he’ll be safe.

      • Yeah, I know. But up until this article, I thought his name was Brooks Wheelan.

  2. We need some more jewish white guys lol but no I thought the black chick was unfunny as well, pretty poor choices all around no one has any range whatsoever. What I also can’t understand is why they haven’t attempted to get anyone who was on mad tv just about everyone was hilarious on that show and you already know what your getting

  3. Snl writing has been going down hill for awhile now and it certainly doesn’t help when they won’t take their foot off the gas forcing all the liberal crap on you

  4. I think they need to cut down on the cast. Lorne is just throwing a whole bunch up there and trying to see what sticks and who can create memorable characters, but with everyone competing for those the writers are getting spread too thin to support it. Keep it down to about 10-13 cast members and I think you can see the quality improve.

    • 10 cast members is the perfect number.

      Any more and to many people get lost (last season’s biggest problem), any less and you have a big problem if a few get in a rut.

  5. Show hasn’t been funny in years used to be edgy ,and take on everyone ,now only goes after Republicans and never , never make fun the President no matter what, will make a little fun of those around him,but will never do what they did to the Bushes carter or Clinton.

    • It will probably be even worse if Hillary Clinton is the next president….I expect the left wing to completely lose any sense of humor with her in the white house.

    • As an outsider (ie, foreign), I can only assume that they went after Clinton and the Bush family because they were seen worldwide as comical figures with people asking how the hell they were even voted into power. With Obama however, only certain sections of the US population seem to dislike him immensely, the rest of the world sees him as a great man doing great things but finding himself held back by people who just want to maintain the status quo.

      It’s why there were never sketches about Nelson Mandela or Gandhi. How could you make fun of someone like that?

      • Your interpretation comprises SOME of the truth, (even though no sane person would sincerely put Obama in the same class as Ghandi), but it is also safe to assume that there is a lot of insidious political motivation these days in entertainment. It used to be that satirical shows would make fun of who and what the current news was about, not just pick a side like the major news networks have, and then support that side with as much predigested content as possible. Strong agendas and weak thinkers are a huge problem here in the states. I couldn’t speak for the rest of the world. It’s consistently disheartening that we are not above this garbage. I can’t recall a time when voting meant anything more than choosing the least bad candidate, and yet lots of them are celebrities now, or get hero worshipped. It’s freakin creepy.

  6. This show hasn’t been funny for years. Yes, there are some LOL moments but they are few and far between. They need to get back to basics and start over. A whole new cast that are edgy and are not afraid to push the limits

  7. I was wondering this whole season why this normal looking unfunny guy was still on the cast

  8. Jost is AWFUL on update. They ought to kick him and get someone with personality and timing

  9. As long as Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer are on the show, they should be able to carry it. Something needs to be done about Aidy Bryant though. Never found one of her characters amusing.

  10. They should take it off screen, at least for a few years. Find a new vision, change the format. L. Michaels should step away completely. He made this show great, but its not anymore. And this show needs to be radically changed, not just hiring a couple of new faces.

  11. They really need to get rid of Kenan Thompson. He’s HORRIBLE! He’s skip remind me of the awful skits he did on ALL THAT. He was garbage then and he’s garbage now

  12. Sasheer Zamata= NOT FUNNY!
    Sasheer Zamata= SCARY!!!