Sunday, July 21, 2024

“Saturday Night Live” Sources: Insiders Knew Cecily Strong was Leaving, But Exit Was Kept Quiet EXCLUSIVE


EXCLUSIVE It was certainly a surprise last night when “Saturday Night Live” posted a goodbye to Cecily Strong just as the dress rehearsal began at 9pm.

Strong had signed up for a new season even though she missed the first couple of episodes. She hadn’t even filmed a spot of the show’s opening credits and people feared she wasn’t coming back. There was never any mention of her returning just for a handful of episodes.

Sources close to the show say her exit was known internally, but no one knows why it wasn’t declared when it was decided. But by the time the cast got together for the table read-through, it was finally announced.

The “SNL” after party was held at Buddakan in Chelsea on Seventh Avenue. Sources say Strong and executive producer Lorne Michaels were among the last to leave the celebration. “The party was still going strong at 4:30,” says a guest. “Cecily and Lorne were in a deep conversation by themselves for at least 45 minutes. It looked like a very warm talk. They were laughing and smiling.”

Strong has no big projects listed on her imdb page except “Shmicago,” the follow up to “Shmigadoon,” which this column announced earlier in the year. If something new has popped up which pushed her to leave “SNL” it’s unknown. It could be exhaustion, or money, or both.

“SNL” has lost a slew of cast members this year. The last holdovers are Kenan Thompson (20 years) and Mikey Day (6 years as a performer). The rest of the cast is newish, although they’re all doing pretty well. Heidi Gardner looks like she’s the biggest beneficiary of Strong’s exit.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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