‘Saturday Night Live’ Season Finale Goes Sideways Amid NYC COVID-19 Wave

The finale of the 47th season of “Saturday Night Live” went off not with a bang, but with a wail.

Just hours before the episode was expected to air with host Paul Rudd and musical guest Charli XCX, the late-night show released an announcement on Twitter that there would be no live audience “due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution,” adding, “the show will have a limited cast and crew.”

Charli XCX, who previously had teased a performance of her latest single “New Shapes” featuring electro-pop artists Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens, also didn’t go ahead as planned, citing the limited crew. the musician wrote that she was “devastated and heartbroken” by the news, but clarified that she “hadn’t decided to cancel the show or withdraw” herself.

“We were told around 3pm that my portion of the show would be canceled for everyone’s safety and so there was nothing we could do,” XCX wrote.

It was the first time “SNL” left a rehearsed episode, sending much of the cast and crew home (Kenan Thompson and Michael Che were the only cast members to appear live on the show). While the show has not yet confirmed any breakthrough cases among its staff, Variety reported that “numerous cast and crew members have tested positive for COVID in the past few days.”

It’s the latest high-profile cancellation of entertainment in New York City. In the week leading up to the episode, the New York Times reported that the rest of Radio City Rockettes’ Christmas shows would be canceled at the location near Rockefeller Plaza where “SNL” is being filmed. Nine Broadway shows, including “MJ the Musical,” “Hamilton,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Jagged Little Pill” also recently canceled their performances due to groundbreaking cases, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

New York State revealed that nearly 22,000 people had tested positive for COVID on Friday afternoon, with more than half of those test results reported in New York City, though city data shows new hospitalizations and deaths are, on average, well below their spring 2020 peak. , according to the Associated Press.

Understandably, the resulting episode of “SNL” seemed to lose its footing, other than a pretty good one “Home Goods”-Centered Sketch starring Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, and the surprising appearances of Tom Hanks and Tina Fey, who joined Rudd onstage to congratulate him on his fifth time hosting the show and give him a “Five- Timers Club” jacket.

Onstage, Hanks reminded the sparse crowd that he headed the exclusive society for returning hosts — (“Oh, how did you start COVID?” Fey joked) — and had been looking forward to Rudd’s introduction, but because of the wave. of coronavirus cases, “the big Christmas show” couldn’t go on as planned.

“But I came here from California,” he said. “And if you think I’m going to fly 3,000 miles and not be on TV, well, then something else is coming.”

Most of the new sketches were pre-recorded, including a music video starring Kyle Mooney as a six-year-old boy in a department store hoping to buy his mom a pair of socks for Christmas after his bird, TJ Rocks – played by Charli XCX in a brief appearance – is missing.

At the end of the episode, Rudd acknowledged the show’s unexpected challenges.

“As my good friend Tom Hanks once said in a movie, ‘Life is like a big, weird chocolate bar,’” he said. “Sometimes it’s wonderful. Other times there’s an orange cream filling in there and I’m like, okay, it’s not what I would have picked, but it’s better than nothing.”