‘Saturday Night Live’ Sets Its Cast as Beck Bennett Departs

“Saturday Night Live” isn’t necessarily a series known for its season-ending cliffhangers, but when this long-running NBC sketch show reached its finale last May, there were question marks hanging over many of its veteran cast members.

Pete Davidson concluded a monologue by telling viewers, “It’s been an honor to grow up in front of you guys, so thanks.” Cecily Strong finished what felt like a valedictory performance as Jeanine Pirro by dunking herself in a glass tank that said “Boxed Wine.” Other long-tenured players, including Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon, were simply seen looking especially tearful, fueling speculation about their future at the show.

But on Monday, NBC announced that nearly all of the “S.N.L.” cast members from last season will be returning to the show: That includes Davidson, Strong, Bryant and McKinnon, as well as the Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che, players like Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner and Ego Nwodim, as well as Kenan Thompson, who has appeared on the show since 2003.

However, Beck Bennett, who joined “S.N.L.” in 2013 and portrayed characters like Wolf Blitzer, Mike Pence, Vladimir Putin and Vin Diesel, is not returning to the program. In a post on his Instagram account, Bennett did not give a reason for his departure but wrote, “Thank you for 8 years of remarkable people and incredible experiences that completely changed my life.”

Lauren Holt, who appeared on “S.N.L.” as a featured player last season is also not returning to the show.

Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman, who had both been appearing as featured players have been promoted to full cast members, NBC said.

“S.N.L.” is also adding three new featured players for the coming season: Aristotle Athari, a member of the sketch group Goatface; James Austin Johnson, who has acted in shows like “Tuca & Bertie” and in the film “Hail, Caesar!”, and has a viral series of Donald Trump impressions; and Sarah Sherman, who has worked on “The Eric Andre Show.”

“Saturday Night Live” will begin its 47th season this Saturday with an episode hosted by Owen Wilson and featuring the musical guest Kacey Musgraves.

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