Michaels, the legendary creator of Saturday Night Live, one of the longest-running and beloved sketch comedy shows in America, has watched his cast unravel over the past couple of seasons and, rumor has it, it's about to take another hit.
Kenan Thompson, who has been a cast member on SNL since 2003, will be leaving the show after this season, according to TMZ. The gossip site's sources say that Thompson is leaving on good terms and will be moving to Los Angeles, California, with his budding family to pursue other avenues.
A spokesperson for Saturday Night Live deemed the rumor of Thompson's departure as "inaccurate" and said that "the season hasn't even started and cast decisions aren't made until the end of the season," according to the Huffington Post, but TMZ is standing by its initial story. "This is not an SNL decision — it's Kenan's decision, and we know he already made it," TMZ posted in an update to their report.
TMZ's sources also say that Thompson had planned to leave after last season, but Michaels convinced him to stay for one more because of the massive cast turnover that has recently occurred. The fact that reps are denying Thompson's departure, coupled with Michaels, in essence, begging him to stay longer than he wanted to, serve as pretty good indicators that production knows that trouble is afoot.
Thompson's exit comes after the huge losses of Seth Meyers, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, whose departures all but decimated the show. The cast that was hugely strong just two years ago is now comprised of almost all rookies. Thompson, who is also the most tenured African-American cast member in the show's history, according to TMZ, was able to carry long-running bits, including "What Up With That," "Last Call" and "Getting Freaky with Cee-Lo Green." There will be a serious hole in Saturday Night Live without his celebrity impressions and the show will have zero popular recurring character sketches and few recognizable faces.
At this point, the fate of the program may rest upon the shoulders of Kate McKinnon, whose Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres impersonations are out of this world, and Taran Killam, whose character, Jebidiah Atkinson, was one of the only revelations of last season.
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