Saturday Night Live is recruiting some breakout star power for its 40th season debut: Ariana Grande, following the chart-topping success of her second album, My Everything, will serve as musical guest, while Chris Pratt, star of the blockbuster superhero flick Guardians of the Galaxy, will host the premiere episode, which airs on September 27th.
The season’s second episode, set for October 4th, will mark the SNL hosting debut of comedian-actress (and former SNL cast member) Sarah Silverman, with Maroon 5 making their fifth overall appearance as musical guest. Silverman’s latest comedy album, We Are Miracles (taken from her Emmy-winning HBO stand-up special) will hit shelves on September 23rd; Maroon 5 released their fifth LP, V, earlier this month.
The 40th season of SNL will feature more tweaks among its ever-shifting cast. Noël Wells and John Milhiser, both featured players last season, and cast member Brooks Wheelan were dismissed from the sketch series earlier this summer, while five-season veteran Nasim Pedrad departed to co-star on the new Fox series Mulaney (executive-produced by longtime SNL boss, Lorne Michaels).
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An unconfirmed Deadline report also speculated that featured player and former writer Michael Patrick O’Brien could shift back to the writing staff or join Colin Jost for a co-hosting stint on “Weekend Update.”
But the show’s biggest shake-up is a permanent one: Season 40 will be the first in decades without the booming voice of announcer Don Pardo, who died last month at age 96. The always-smooth pro was an NBC employee throughout this storied 70-year career, working as an announcer for several shows before being hired for SNL in 1975. Pardo’s signature vocal delivery was a staple on the series for 38 seasons.