Saturday Night Live is finishing its record-setting season with a string of high-profile hosts and one very big first: After airing live on the East Coast for more than 40 years, the entire country will be able to watch the NBC series as it happens for the final four episodes.
“SNL — enjoying its most popular season in two decades — is part of the national conversation, and we thought it would be a great idea to broadcast to the West and Mountain time zones live at the same time it’s being seen in the East and Central time zones,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt. “That way, everyone is in on the joke at the same time. Kudos to Lorne Michaels, the producers and cast for making SNL one of the most relevant and anticipated shows in the zeitgeist.”
Each episode will air live at the following times:
11:30 p.m. Eastern
10:30 p.m. Central
9:30 p.m. Mountain
8:30 p.m. Pacific
The show is pulling out all the stops on the hosting front as well. The following foursome will emcee on these dates:
Riding critically praised political parodies of the new administration — Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, Kate McKinnon as Kellyanne Conway and, most recently, Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer — Saturday Night Live is enjoying its most watched season in 24 years. More than 11 million viewers are tuning in on a weekly basis, once live-plus-seven-day ratings are factored in. On the demo front, the show is averaging a 3.6 rating among adults 18-49. If you tossed it in with the primetime lineup, it would tie as the No. 6 non-sports telecast on all of TV.
All four of the season’s final hosts are internal favorites at SNL. As for McCarthy, this marks her fifth time hosting yet only her latest appearance this season. She’s been popping up in one-off skits for the past few months as the volatile White House press secretary.
NBC has certainly been leaning into all the attention SNL has gotten for its unapologetically critical take on the Trump administration. Just two days ago, the network announced a fall run of primetime “Weekend Update” specials. Those rare one-offs previously had only taken place during election years.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.