Morgan Wallen will not be making his Saturday Night Live debut after all.
The rising country star, 27, was supposed to be the musical guest this Saturday along with host Bill Burr. However, after TikTok videos surfaced of Wallen partying without a mask and kissing multiple women while at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa over the weekend, NBC rescinded its invitation amid the pandemic.
Wallen confirmed the news in a video posted on Instagram. “I got a call from the show letting me know I would no longer be able to play,” he said. “And that’s because of COVID protocols, which I understand.” He further apologized to SNL, his fans and his team. “My actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted," Wallen said, "and they have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams.” He added, “I think I have some growing up to do. I think I lost myself a little bit. I tried to find joy in the wrong places and, I don’t know, it’s left me with less joy, so I’m going to try to work on that. I’m going to take a step back from the spotlight for a little while and go work on myself. I wish I could have made country music and my fans proud this Saturday, but I respect the decision once again.”
While TikTok has helped accelerate the “7 Summers” singer’s rise to fame (he has over 1 million followers), it was videos posted to the video-sharing site that led to his invitation being nixed. There to see the Alabama-Texas A&M football game, the videos showed him drinking in a crowded bar, kissing different women, riding in the back of someone’s car, taking snapshots with fans and playing a guitar at a jam-packed indoor gathering. Wallen wore a neck gaiter, but not covering his mouth — and people he was with didn’t have proper face coverings, either.
The sketch show has been stringent with its coronavirus safety protocols. The show returned last weekend with Chris Rock as host and Megan Thee Stallion as musical guest. Rock said on the Ellen DeGeneres Show that he was tested daily leading up to the show — and so was everyone around him. He also said everyone had a mask, and some people had double shields and gloves, which he described as “necessary” and “the price to work.”
For the actual show, the crew wore masks and shields, and the cast had masks on when they weren't in a scene. As for the audience, attendees were also masked and tested, as well as compensated at $150 a piece to comply with New York State COVID-19 guidelines.
SNL creator Lorne Michaels said they were using heat sensors and rapid coronavirus tests for people just to get into 30 Rock, the building where the show takes place from within Studio 8H. Further, meetings were cut down from 40 people to 3. Read-throughs were done with many feet between participants. There were also limits on how many people could be on the floor at once, with camera operators coming in at the last minute.
“Obviously, I take my responsibility for people’s health and lives very seriously,” Michaels said. “But we did a show with anthrax in the building. We did a show after 9/11. That’s what we’ve always done.”
Videos showing Wallen partying started really circulating on Sunday. One Twitter user shared a clip and noted, “The musical guest on SNL next week was spotted in my town a few hours ago drinking at the college bars without a mask. Seems safe!”
The musical guest on SNL next week was spotted in my town a few hours ago drinking at the college bars without a mask.
Seems safe! pic.twitter.com/xZtyDlr5V1
— ddelrymple🐛 (@ddelrymple) October 4, 2020
I’ve seen like 87 tiktoks similar to this one. Morgan Wallen belongs to the streets. pic.twitter.com/LNeZVc3v6v
— 🍂Tyne🍂 (@RyleeTWing) October 5, 2020
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