Earlier tonight, Saturday Night Live announced a pretty big surprise change for next season: Former SNL writer and current Daily Show correspondent Michael Che is returning to NBC to co-anchor Weekend Update. According to Bill Carter at The New York Times, Che has been chosen to replace Cecily Strong at the Update desk next season, and Che has confirmed on Twitter that he’ll be leaving The Daily Show to take on the new SNL gig. Strong – who joined the Update desk alongside Seth Meyers back in 2013 – will remain on the cast as a repertory player; she reportedly requested the change herself so she could appear in more sketches. Che and Jost’s pairing will make the very first two-man Weekend Update team.
According to the NYT report, Lorne Michaels has been trying out different Update anchor combinations over the past few weeks. “Michael is a strong writer and he’s really funny,” Michaels said. “It’s always difficult to make changes and make Update different from what’s gone before.” On last year’s incarnation of Update with Jost and Strong, Michaels said it “struggled to find an identity last season. Because what had come before had been pretty brilliant.”
So what other changes can we expect on SNL next year? If you’re hoping for some new cast members, Michaels confirmed that with NYT, noting that he would “probably be making one or two more additions to the cast this season but that he had not yet reached a decision.” As for the three-hour 40th anniversary special planned for February, Michaels has decided that instead of airing the previous week’s SNL repeats at 10:00pm every Saturday, this season he’ll instead run one episode from each of the show’s 40 seasons, which will be condensed from 90 minutes to an hour but include the original musical performances.