‘SNL’ to Mark 50th Anniversary With a Live Primetime Special (on a Sunday)

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NBC is rolling out the red carpet to celebrate Saturday Night Live’s 50th anniversary.

Ahead of its upfront presentation next week to Madison Avenue ad buyers, the network on Friday announced that it has scheduled a three-hour primetime special to honor the anniversary. The special, which will also be live, is set to air Sunday, Feb. 16, from 8-11 p.m. ET.

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That will cap what NBC says will be a “celebratory weekend” honoring the Lorne Michaels-created sketch show.

Additional details have not yet been announced as Michaels and company are in the home stretch of closing out SNL’s 49th season with alum Maya Rudolph set to host this weekend and Jake Gyllenhaal on deck for the May 18 season finale.

News that NBC would formally celebrate SNL’s 50th anniversary comes as no surprise as Michaels said last January that he was already planning for the February event.

“We’re doing the 50th anniversary show in February of ’25, so I will definitely be there for that, and definitely be there until that, and sometime before that we’ll figure out what we’re gonna do,” he said at the time.

What happens after the 50th celebration, that remains to be seen.

Michaels has been heavily involved with the series since its creation in 1975, save for a five-year hiatus in the 1980s. The prolific producer and comedy kingpin has not announced any plans to retire or step away from SNL. That said, speculation has been rampant for years that Michaels, who turns 80 this November, will see the show through its 50th season before hanging it up.

With that in mind, former SNL star Tina Fey has been speculated for some time as the heir apparent to Michaels when it comes to taking over the sketch show.

“It could easily be Tina Fey, but you know, there are a lot of people who are there now who are also, you know [could be good],” Michaels said earlier this year. “Tina’s brilliant and great at everything. She’s a very important person in my life.”

Michaels, as he is prone to do with SNL alums, has reteamed with Fey multiple times since she departed the sketch show and has exec produced features including the original and musical incarnations of Mean Girls and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot as well as former NBC comedy 30 Rock, among others. Fey’s Little Stranger banner — like Michaels’ Broadway Video — is housed at Universal Television, which produces SNL.

With Michaels at its helm, SNL has been a star-maker over the years and helped to launch the careers of folks including Fey, Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg, Adam Sandler and Kate McKinnon as well as Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, with the latter two late night hosts also considered strong candidates to take over for Michaels.

SNL continues to be a vital show for NBC, though its linear ratings have tumbled — like everything else on broadcast — and the series would be a No. 1 show were it to air in primetime. What’s more, SNL has earned a whopping 314 Emmy nominations and won a record 84. (HBO’s Game of Thrones is a distant second with 59.) With its cast turnover, SNL is also less expensive to make than a scripted comedy series for broadcast.

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