SNL's Kenan Thompson is about to embark on a new sitcom for NBC calling Saving Kenan, and Chris Rock is set to direct the pilot episode. The perpetually youthful Thompson turned 40-years-old last year, but he's been in the public eye so long that it almost feels like he should be even older. That's of course because Thompson began his acting career in 1993, at the tender age of 15. Thompson's first movie role came in Disney sequel D2: The Mighty Ducks, although he didn't truly become a star until he joined the cast of Nickelodeon's All That in 1994.
Thompson became a breakaway cast member of All That, and transitioned into the beloved by 1990s kids Kenan & Kel, on which he starred alongside fellow All That performer Kel Mitchell. The pair did four seasons of Kenan & Kel, and also starred together in the 1997 movie Good Burger. Following Nickelodeon though, Mitchell's stardom started to fade, while Thompson's continued to rise. By 2003, Thompson had turned his childhood success with sketch comedy into a spot in the big leagues, joining the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live.
Thompson has remained a part of SNL ever since, and is now the longest-tenured cast member in the history of the venerable show. While Thompson has made it clear in the past that he has no real desire to leave SNL, he might just end up doing so, at least if his new sitcom project Saving Kenan ultimately gets picked up to series. According to Deadline, the odds of Saving Kenan performing well just went up, as comedy icon Chris Rock has been hired to direct the sitcom's pilot episode.
Saving Kenan stars Thompson as a recently widowed father trying desperately to fill both parental roles for his children, all while begrudgingly allowing his pushy father-in-law to become a bigger part of the family picture. The father-in-law has yet to be cast, but from the sound of it, his role will be essential to the plot. One might actually be inclined to suggest Rock himself for that part, although there's no indication he plans to appear on camera.
Rock is of course best known for his work as a comedian and actor, but he's by no means new to the directing game, having directed himself in the films Head of State, I Think I Love My Wife, and Top Five. Rock also helmed an episode of the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, which he also created, produced, and narrated as well. Saving Kenan is slowly turning into a mini-reunion of SNL alums, as the comedy is executive produced by SNL creator Lorne Michaels, and Rock is himself a former SNL cast member. While Rock and Thompson's time on the series didn't overlap, the two did work together a bit when Rock hosted an episode of SNL in 2014.