Saturday Night Live (season 31)
Saturday Night Live aired its thirty-first season in the 2005-06 television season on NBC. The season began on October 1, 2005, and ended on May 20, 2006 with 19 episodes in all. The season was cut one episode short due to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. A 30th anniversary special for the show was planned, but the plan was scrapped due to budget cuts.
Before the start of the season, featured player Rob Riggle was let go from the show. Finesse Mitchell and Kenan Thompson were both promoted to repertory status while Jason Sudeikis remained a featured player.
The show then added three new cast members to the show. They included: Los Angeles-based sketch comedian Bill Hader, Andy Samberg (the show also hired his two friends Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone to the writing staff, all members of the The Lonely Island sketch group) and Kristen Wiig of The Groundlings. Wiig debuted on the show in November, in the episode hosted by Jason Lee. Samberg, Schaffer and Taccone would be a notable force for creating SNL Digital Shorts. One such short was "Lazy Sunday"; after it aired during the Jack Black episode it became an Internet phenomenon.
Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph missed a few episodes in this season due to both of them being pregnant and on maternity leave. Fey's place on Weekend Update was briefly taken over by Horatio Sanz until her return in the episode hosted by Catherine Zeta-Jones, making Sanz the first (and so far only) Hispanic Weekend Update anchor. Fey returned to the show before her maternity leave time was up. Maya Rudolph, however, appeared on the first episode of the new season, and then went on maternity leave and returned in February, in the episode hosted by Steve Martin.
This season is also notable for the people who hosted the show. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, an SNL cast member from 1982 to 1985 under Dick Ebersol, became the first former female cast member to come back and host the show (and also the third cast member from Seinfeld to host). It is worth noting that Gilda Radner was originally supposed to host in 1988, but was not due to the Writer's Guild of America Strike and then Radner's death the following year. This season is also known for the return of such frequent hosts as Alec Baldwin (who last hosted in season 29 with musical guest Missy Elliott in 2003), Tom Hanks (who last hosted the first episode of season 22 with musical guest Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1996), and Steve Martin (who last hosted the first episode of the 20th season with musical guest, Eric Clapton in 1994).
This season saw the seventh death of a former cast member when Charles Rocket committed suicide by slashing his throat with a box cutter.
This season also became the first to broadcast the show in high-definition, after thirty years of broadcasting in analog.
This would also be the final season for cast members Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Finesse Mitchell, Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz, as well as the last season for longtime director, Beth McCarthy-Miller. Dratch and Fey both left the show to focus on 30 Rock and McCarthy-Miller left the show on her own terms. Parnell, Mitchell, and Sanz, however, were let go after Lorne Michaels was given the choice to either cut back on episode production or get rid of long-standing and/or poor-performing cast members due to NBC budget cuts.
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Famous quotes containing the words live, night and/or saturday:
“Heaven be thanked, we live in such an age when no man dies for love except upon the stage.”
—John Osborne (19291994)
“He who curses his wife in the evening will spend the night alone.”
“The return of the asymmetrical Saturday was one of those small events that were interior, local, almost civic and which, in tranquil lives and closed societies, create a sort of national bond and become the favorite theme of conversation, of jokes and of stories exaggerated with pleasure: it would have been a ready- made seed for a legendary cycle, had any of us leanings toward the epic.”
—Marcel Proust (18711922)