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‘Saturday Night Live’ Boss Lorne Michaels on Why Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam Were Axed

Michaels also reveals who gave him the idea to cast Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump.

Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam

Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam


In August it was announced that veteran cast members Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah would not be returning to “Saturday Night Live” for its 42nd season, even though they had a year left on their contracts. No exact reason was revealed for their departure other than that their contracts would not be renewed. Now, “SNL” boss Lorne Michaels has finally broken his silence on why the duo was let go.

“I think they were great, and they did wonderful work when they were with us,” Michaels told USA Today. “They served the show well, and are two people I really care about.” Adding, “Change is the lifeblood of the show; it always has been. And you have to keep bringing new people in. Hopefully it’s for the best. I’m not worried about either of them going on to success.”

Shortly after their departure was announced, Showtime revealed that both performers were cast in new comedy pilots for the network. Killam is now starring in the “comedy anthology” “Mating” and Pharoah’s new series is titled “White Famous.”

READ MORE: Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah Land Post-‘SNL’ Gigs on Showtime

Among the other changes that “SNL” went through was the addition of new cast members, Mikey Day, Alex Moffat, and the first Latina comedian Melissa Villaseñor, who was under fire not too long ago after she removed a slew of tweets from her profile deemed racist. Alec Baldwin will also be taking on the role of Donald Trump from Killam and Darrell Hammond.

During the interview Lorne revealed that it was Tina Fey who gave him the idea to cast Baldwin as the presidential candidate. “She said, ‘You know who would be a great Trump is Alec!’…Slowly, the idea grew on me. People on the show liked it, and I thought he’d be great with Kate [McKinnon] (who portrays Hillary Clinton).”

“Saturday Night Live” returns tonight, October 1st, with Margot Robbie as host and The Weeknd as the musical guest.

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