Addition through subtraction: SNL fires Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson!?

Sources outside the show, and backed up by anonymous sources from within 30 Rock, have informed me that Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson appear to have been let go from Saturday Night Live and won't be returning this season (although they may have participated in some pre-taped ad parodies and digital shorts). They're no longer listed in specific office protocol. UPDATED: Michaela just confirmed this to me herself. So it looks as though Lorne Michaels hired Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad not as additional females to the cast (as SNL follower Rachel Sklar over at Mediaite would have hoped), but rather to replace Watkins and Wilson.

Michaela UPDATED! Here is an exclusive statement that Michaela Watkins emailed me about her departure from SNL:

"I will say to you now, though, that I had a GREAT time there. Met some of the most truly talented and fantastic people, had the most exciting job and I honestly can say I don't have any regrets I can think of right now. Although it seems kinda crazy right now, this may shake out to make sense to everyone. Lorne isn't known for indulging in any lip-service and I feel very encouraged by his words last week. I'm working on something I'm very excited about now, so… the journey continues, and I feel so lucky I got to stop off at 30 Rock. It was awesome."

People who work at the show, and those who knew her at The Groundlings, where Watkins was performing with the Mainstage in Los Angeles before she was hired midseason in November 2008 (to help compensate for the loss of Amy Poehler), were shocked. They're not alone. I thought Watkins made the most of her first half-season, lampooning Arianna Huffington, appearing in a series of spoofs on NBC's own Today show as Hoda Kotb (to Kristen Wiig's Kathie Lee Gifford), as well as portraying a celebrity gossip blogger (bitchpleeze!). She more than held her own, and letting her go now doesn't seem to make any sense!

Wilson's departure, on the other hand, may come as less of a surprise to her critics and fans. She already has been scheduled to perform Sept. 24 (two days before the SNL debut) in an Upright Citizens Brigade show in Hollywood. And she had trouble breaking out during her tenure. Either her sketches would get cut after the dress rehearsal, or delayed by weeks, or she'd end up playing second or third banana in a sketch. She did have a sense of humor about the situation this spring, when Wilson starred in a Funny or Die video in which she read what people had to say about her on the Internets.

Abby Elliott, meanwhile, will return. NBC even posted a clip of Elliott talking up the new season during this summer's press tour.

Darrell Hammond also may return in some capacity this season, even though it looked like the May finale was also going to be his. He told a local TV station in Rochester, N.Y., recently that he was in negotiations. He holds the record for longest tenure of any cast member, having been with SNL since 1995.

Announcer Don Pardo, however, has officially retired after being an SNL institution since the beginning.

As one source told me, while new hires get announced and/or introduced, people who get let go don't. They just aren't there the next day. I will update if/when I get additional information.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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32 thoughts on “Addition through subtraction: SNL fires Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson!?

  1. Geez, that’s brutal. I did think Michaela did fit in well, as you said. Perhaps Casey less so – I almost got that feeling myself when I saw her do monologues at Asssscat back in November and she recounted her very presumptuous campaign to play (I think) Sarah Palin in the pre-election sketches. I’m sure she was exaggerating the story, but it you annoy Jim Downey, that likely doesn’t bode well. I did find Casey charming, though, and I’m sure she’ll do just fine.

  2. Come on! She nailed Arianna, one of the toughest – as you have to be intelligibly unintelligibal while funny. I hope she uses this like Chevy Chase did.

  3. Wow. Casey I understand, no charisma, made the same faces. But Michaela was a great addition to the cast. They shoulda dumped keenan instead.

  4. Not Casey!! I thought Casey Wilson was fantastic and I was waiting for her finally get the bigger roles she deserved. Of course, when she did get a good role, it was for a really lame skit. Thank you, writers.
    I guess they can go back to beating Kristen Wiig to death.

  5. I thought Casey Wilson was FANTASTIC. truly.
    They horribly under-utilized her and didn’t write for her. But whenever she was given time to shine, she put in work. I loved her cougar sketches, stripper sketch, etc. I also love her online stuff (the caffeine story, etc). She’s hilarious – and VERY sexy. But look what they did? they get rid of Michaela (who’s also a very talented performer) and Casey – but KEEP Abby Elliott?? She, like the other two got very little time, etc. had mixed reviews. so why does she get to stay? cause she’s a YOUNG HOTTIE..that’s why. Age discrimination and looks-bias. Casey is also a HOTTIE – but she’s an early 30’s hottie-so…..there you go. I want more Casey…now.

  6. Two females gone and so many lame males stay.
    They should fired Fred Armisen . His Obama impersonation is the pits.
    It requires hours of makeup.
    How much makeup did Dan Ackroyd need to do Bob Dole, Jimmy Carter, Nixon? etc.
    The same for Chevy Chase. They were good actors.

  7. Michaela is BRILLIANT and made me a big fan in the half season she was on the show. The show will be worse without her.
    Casey it extremely talented, but the show was probably not the right fit for her.
    Abby Elliot has absolutely NO comedic voice or instincts whatsoever. She’s a blank. Classic case of nepotism. The George W. Bush of comedy.
    I don’t think Lorne Michaels’ priority is a funny show. He makes horrible choices on purpose to keep everyone at the show fearful of losing their job and insecure. Mission accomplished, Lorne.

  8. Agree with peteTa – Nepotism lives with Abby.
    Michaela was great, so funny and showcased others’ talents with her sketches (especially as Hoda).
    Wish funny was the criteria SNL used…

  9. This sucks.
    Michaela was fantastic, Casey should’ve shined/had her OWN sketches and should’ve gone blackface to impersonate Sherri Shepherd.
    And why can’t there be 5 women in the cast?

  10. Watkins was awful, definitely the worst person on the cast last season. The Today Show sketches were terrible (on both her end and Wiig’s).
    I thought Wilson was pretty good, but I don’t think her not being there is going to make any difference.

  11. Michaela Watkins was unwatchable. Sorry. Maybe she has other strengths, but so far, comedy isn’t one of them.
    Wilson on the other hand I’m surprised to see go. She was funny. I thought she was sure to become a regular cast member.

  12. I have to say, this makes me lose a lot of the enthusiasm I had for Saturday Night Live. When a show gets rid of promising new talent and keeps people who’ve overstayed already that’s a sign of decadence.
    Anyway, I remain a fan of Casey Wilson and I’m curious to see what she has to say.

  13. Michaela was very funny and talented, that’s a big mistake on Lorne Michael’s part. Casey was terrible on SNL from the beginning and she never showed up with anything on Weekend Update – right? She had nothing to offer! Agree with Joe- where are the black women? Keenan is NOT a black woman and does the same schtick in everything he’s in.
    Fred Armison is talented but SUCKS as Obama.

  14. I liked Michaela…! Casey..not so much. And the show definetly needs more talented comic impersonators and comic music talent..male or female.
    I still love the show though and am eagerly awaiting Sept 26.

  15. I know this isn’t the point (really), but Kristin Wiiiig is the worst over-actor I have ever seen. I acted like this in drama class at high school. And she’s in every. effing. skit.

  16. Kristen Wiig is terrible! She always seems to be looking at a teleprompter or something off screen which is so distracting! I cannot watch the sketches she appears in at all!

  17. I agree with Micy… I’m not a big Wiig fan (of course, I didn’t really like Sandler on SNL either, they both kind of rub me the same way).
    I couldn’t believe they let Wilson go though. At least to me, she seemed to be in as many prominent sketches as any of the “full time cast members”, even though I think she was still a “featured player”. I was thinking that she’d probably be moved up to a “cast member” this year. If I’m not mistaken, I think the “cast members” have a considerable pay increase over “featured players”, so, my guess is for whatever reason, SNL didn’t want to pay her the extra money, even though she was at the point in her career at the show where they needed to either do that, or let her go. And now we know which they did.

  18. SNL is making a HUGE mistake in letting Watkins go. She is one of the reasons my girlfriends and I would get together to watch SNL. The other day I was just talking about how I can’t wait for the new season to see Hoda Kotb and Kathy Lee skits. I really wish Lorne Michaels would reconsider and bring her back! I guess when you get old your judgment starts to get clouded. 🙁

  19. not to worry…julia louis-dreyfuss was underused on SNL and ultimately kicked off the show…she wound up starring as elaine on the Jerry Seiinfeld show for 10 years…is she still on her new show..’the new adventures of old christine’ or titled something like that???

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  21. When a show gets rid of promising new talent and keeps people who’ve overstayed already that’s a sign of decadence.

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