Leslie Jones Says Goodbye To ‘Saturday Night Live’

Leslie Jones as Whoopie Goldberg, backstage in studio 8H.
Rosalind O'Connor / NBC

Actress and comedienne Leslie Jones is saying goodbye to her starring role on the late-night comedy sketch series Saturday Night Live after five years. Entertainment Weekly confirmed Jones’ exit.

The Ghostbusters star is currently filming the Coming to America sequel, titled Coming 2 America starring Eddie Murphy, who coincidentally will return to the SNL stage as host for the first time in 35 years this December.

Jones is also headlining a comedy special for Netflix that will premiere in 2020 as well as hosting and executive producing a reboot of the popular 1990s game show, Supermarket Sweep, reported EW.

During her time on Saturday Night Live, Jones was nominated for a Supporting Actress Emmy in 2017 and 2018. She also received a third nomination this year for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for her skit, “The Upper East Side.”

Jones made waves when she was hired by the show at the age of 45, the oldest cast member ever signed to the long-running series.

Deadline reported that Jones decided to depart SNL before the end of her contract, which was supposed to run for seven years. The entertainment news website reported that actors’ options are picked up every year, and the performers also can ask to be released early from their contracts.

In other Saturday Night Live news, both Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson will remain with the series. Thompson will herald his 17th season with the show, the series’ longest-running cast member ever. McKinnon, whose contract was up in May, is returning for her eighth season on the show. It is unclear at this time whether she will be on the show full-time.

Thompson will be juggling many different balls in the air this season. The Washington Post reported that although the former child star has several other projects in the works that could potentially take him away from the series, including a new comedy for NBC that will air sometime in 2020, he plans on staying put at SNL.

“That’s the forever plan,” Thompson said to the news site. “To never have to leave that show.”

Also known to be returning are Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong.

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The roster of upcoming hosts and musical guests for the series is strong for the new season, including Woody Harrelson, Billie Eilish, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Taylor Swift, David Harbour, Camila Cabello, and Kristen Stewart.

The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the series is up for 18 Emmy awards in 2019. Some of these include Outstanding Variety Sketch Series and individual nominations for Kate McKinnon and show hosts Matt Damon, John Mulaney, Sandra Oh, Adam Sandler, and Emma Thompson. Film legend Robert De Niro is also nominated for his appearances on the show as Robert Mueller.

Saturday Night Live will return for its new season on September 28 at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC.