"SNL" is replacing "Weekend Update" anchor Cecily Strong with comedian Michael Che, a former "SNL" writer who only months ago moved to "The Daily Show," where he has been a correspondent. Che will join co-anchor and head writer Colin Jost, while Strong will stay on as a regular cast member.
The shift is the most significant change to the show since it fired three cast members in July, delivering on creator Lorne Michaels's promise in June that "there will be changes" this season. It's the first time that the desk, which is considered to be a launchpad for greater success post-"SNL," will have two male anchors.
“This is about a new era, what feels appropriate for now,” Michaels told the New York Times. “That’s why we did a lot of combinations and tests, and this is kind of where we came out.”
“Michael is a strong writer, and he’s really funny,” he said. “It’s always difficult to make changes and make ‘Update’ different from what’s gone before.”
Strong co-anchored "Weekend Update" with Seth Meyers last season, before Meyers left to host "Late Night." Since then, Michaels said, the show struggled to find an identity. Jost joined as co-anchor after the departure of Meyers, though he expressed disappointment with his work at the end of the season, saying this season will be better. “I don’t feel like what I’ve done so far is a full realization of who I am," he said. "There’s a lot to figure out in the beginning, and your personality starts coming out the more you do it."
The 40th season of "SNL" opens on Sept. 27 with host Chris Pratt and musical guest Ariana Grande.