Kate McKinnon — the Sea Cliff native who, along with Billy Crystal and Eddie Murphy, was easily the most prominent LI cast member in "Saturday Night Live" history — will leave the show after the 47th season wraps this weekend.
McKinnon is expected to be followed out the door by a number of other prominent cast members, including Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and "Weekend Update" co-anchor Michael Che, according to reports in Deadline and USA Today. Variety also reported Friday that Pete Davidson — after years of will-he-go-or-won't-he-go gamesmanship — is expected to leave when the 47th wraps Saturday.
An "SNL" spokesperson could not be reached immediately for comment.
While Kenan Thompson (who is not leaving the show) remains "SNL's" longest tenured cast member and arguably its best known, McKinnon, Bryant and Che (also co-head writer along with Colin Jost) have helped define the franchise during their long tenures. Along with Massapequa-raised Alec Baldwin — "SNL's" Donald Trump up until this past season — McKinnon was the show's Hillary Clinton, Jeff Sessions, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rudolf Giuliani, to name but a few. Along with a dozen other characters, Bryant played former White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
And then, there's Davidson: The Staten Island native and son of an FDNY firefighter — Scott Matthew Davidson who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 — was a breakout "SNL" star almost from the moment he joined the show in 2014. Unusual even for high-profile cast members, Davidson courted controversy over that run, too, including a brief feud with then-Republican congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw after mocking Crenshaw's eye patch. (Davidson later apologized; Crenshaw wore the patch after injuring his eye during a tour in Afghanistant as a Navy SEAL.)
Davidson also has frequently criticized Kanye West, ex-husband of Kim Kardashian, whom he began dating last fall.
Over the decades, "SNL" creator-show runner Lorne Michaels has rarely orchestrated major cast departures en masse like this one for obvious reasons: It's difficult enough to develop one star, let alone five. In fact, the last time this many major cast members left the show was in 1980, when Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner quit the show. Notably, Michaels also quit the show that year before returning in 1985.
In 1980, SNL" had imploded but that is not the case now. Ratings are stable (at least when streaming is factored in). Moreover, the show's creative strengths remain, as ever, changeable. What could be happening with this exodus might simply be that there are better career opportunities elsewhere. Che has an ongoing HBO show, for example, while Davidson will star in a new Peacock comedy "Bupkis" with Edie Falco.
McKinnon, who joined the show in 2012 after a run at Upright Citizens Brigade and "The Big Gay Sketch Show," has had a number of big screen roles in recent years (like "Bombshell," in 2019) and most recently starred as Carole Baskin in Peacock's "Joe vs. Carole." She also won two Emmys for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series.
In other words, McKinnon, 38, was a departure waiting to happen, and nearly did in 2019 before signing a contract extension. This Saturday night, that departure will finally be official.