Chris Pine is set to host “Saturday Night Live” on May 6 — but not if the Writers Guild of America follows through on its threat to go on strike next week should it fail to reach a new agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
NBC’s sketch comedy staple is prepared to go into reruns if writers take to the picket line when the guild’s current contract expires on May 1, TheWrap has learned.
Depending on the length of a work stoppage, that could effect the three remaining episodes left on the season 42 schedule of “SNL”: May 6 with Pine as host, May 13 with Melissa “Sean Spicer” McCarthy and May 20 with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The show, which is in the middle of a TV ratings and water-cooler resurgence, does not plan to bank pre-taped sketches or scripts, which would be entirely counterproductive to the union’s efforts.
By default, a WGA walkout could make Fallon’s April 15-hosted episode the season finale — you know, unless it’s a really short strike.
Longtime showrunner Lorne Michaels could play it by ear in that case, though it’s believed that he won’t cross the picket line if his writing staff walks out.
Reps for “SNL” and the WGA did not respond to TheWrap’s request for which on-air players are also guild members.
Former show head writer and “Weekend Update” co-anchor Colin Jost is a WGA member, which in the event of a prolonged strike could affect the network’s plans to air standalone prime-time episodes of the fake-news sketch announced for this August.
Hollywood writers last went on strike in 2007-08 for 100 days, and late-night television bore the brunt of the initial fallout from the walkout.
Back then, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and others initially suspended broadcasting new episodes in solidarity with the union — but eventually returned without writers (and very abbreviated monologues). Many explained that they wanted to avoid laying off hundreds of non-writing staffers.
Even if a strike forces “SNL” off the air, the show might go on in some form. Nine years ago, “Saturday Night Live” stars performed a live show at NYC’s Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre to raise money for writers.