More big changes are coming to NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
As the long-running sketch comedy series begins on its 48th season, USA TODAY has learned that cast members Alex Moffat, Melissa Villaseñor and Aristotle Athari won’t be returning to the show this fall.
The news comes just three months after Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson and Kyle Mooney confirmed their exits during the Season 47 finale in May.
Executive producer Lorne Michaels made the changes as he auditions potential new cast members this week to join the show when it returns in early October.
Moffat joined “SNL” as a featured player in 2016 before being promoted to a main cast member in 2018. The Chicago native became known for playing Eric Trump and a “Guy Who Just Bought a Boat” on Weekend Update. He will next appear in Apple TV+ comedy “Bad Monkey” with Vince Vaughn and Michelle Monaghan.
Villaseñor was also promoted to a regular player in 2018 after two years on the show, memorably impersonating celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Dolly Parton. Outside of “SNL,” she has worked extensively in animation, voicing characters in “Toy Story 4,” Netflix’s “Q-Force” and Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time.”
Athari’s departure comes after just one season: He joined the cast as a featured player last fall along with Sarah Sherman and James Austin Johnson, but struggled to get screen time and launch signature characters, save for “international singing sensation” Angelo.
It’s believed to be the biggest cast shakeup in more than 40 years, during a period when Michaels left the show and most of the original cast was replaced. (Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo were among the new recruits.)
“SNL” has struggled to find its footing in recent years, with fewer political sketches after Donald Trump left the White House, and faced COVID-related obstacles. Fan-favorite players such as Bryant, Davidson and Cecily Strong have also taken extended absences from the show while filming other projects. Strong will also be absent for at least the early part of the upcoming season.