'Saturday Night Live' Reportedly Eyes Return To Studio 8H In Time For 2020 Presidential Election

Saturday Night Live bosses hope to back in the show's New York City studio in time for the upcoming U.S. presidential election, according to a new report from Variety.

The outlet reported that showrunner Lorne Michaels and his staff are hoping to bring the late-night sketch comedy back to the Manhattan for its 46th season, which, under normal circumstances, would debut just a little over a month before the election.

While NBC did not confirm the story, two insiders said the hope is to air the Saturday Night Live in a "controlled" environment, most likely without its usual live audience, much in the way that the Tonight Show Featuring Jimmy Fallon started broadcasting last week. After weeks of remote episodes from Fallon's home, the funnyman and a crew of masked cameraman and producers are now working in the smaller Studio 6A with video conferencing still in place for celebrity guests.

SNL typically peaks in ratings during the run-up to a major election. The 2016 ballot spawned numerous sketches with opponents Hillary Clinton (played by Kate McKinnon) and Donald Trump (recurring SNL guest Alec Baldwin). In the past, former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden has been portrayed by Woody Harrelson, John Mulaney, and others.

While political sketches could be done remotely if needed for Season 46, they would not pack the same punch as fully produced Saturday Night Live segments from the studio.

Pictured: Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump during the
NBC | Will Heath

In-studio production for SNL shut down earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but several at-home episodes, dubbed SNL@Home, were later streamed in from the cast members' houses. The pre-taped show was "hosted" from Tom Hanks' kitchen, Brad Pitt made a cameo as Dr. Anthony Fauci, and big names such as Chris Martin and Miley Cyrus were musical guests.

Fans had to get used to seeing an opening with more than a dozen cast members in boxes on a Zoom screen, and McKinnon's twist on the trademark Saturday Night Live opening.

"And live from Zoom, it's somewhere between March and August," the comic said in the intro.

Seeing the "Weekend Update" anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che in T-shirts instead of suits was also odd, but in their defense, they didn't have a wardrobe department @Home.

SaturdayNight Live's last regular episode aired on March 7, with host Daniel Craig and musical guest The Weeknd. Actor John Krasinski and British singer Dua Lipa had been on tap as host and musical guest for the never-aired March 28 episode before the Saturday Night Live shutdown took place.