Saturday Night Live is only days away from making its return to television, but it seems the show was unable to escape the influence of the COVID-19 surge. While host Ariana DeBose is still set to appear on the 2022 premiere episode, musical artist Roddy Ricch announced his withdrawal in his Instagram stories after he and his team were exposed to the virus. In his stead will be the pop band Bleachers, another first-time musical guest to the show.
Bleachers is fresh off their third studio album Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night, a fitting name considering the situation in which they're making their Saturday Night Live premiere. The band is headed by pop guru Jack Antonoff, who isn't a stranger to appearing on the weekend comedy special. Back in 2012, he performed as part of the rock duo fun. following the release and success of their album Some Nights. Antonoff has been deeply entrenched in pop for the past several years, working with massive artists like Taylor Swift and Lorde and accruing five Grammies in the process.
Ricch's departure marks another COVID-19 setback for Saturday Night Live as of late. Before the show's departure in December, the final episode was aired without a live audience and without a musical performance from would-be guest Charli XCX. That episode was stripped heavily back due to the surge from the Omicron variant, leading to Paul Rudd accepting his induction into the Five-Timers club with only two regular cast members in attendance plus Tom Hanks and Tina Fey. Ricch is actually the third musical guest to miss his performance due to the virus, as country music singer Morgan Wallen had to reschedule his 2020 appearance after violating COVID-19 protocols.
The new episode is expected to be a return to business as usual even as Omicron continues to rage throughout the country. It'll be the debut for DeBose, who recently appeared in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of West Side Story and played a role in the Apple TV+ musical parody series Schmigadoon!. As of now, more episodes of Saturday Night Live are set for January 22 and 29 as well.
Saturday Night Live's 2022 premiere comes to NBC and Peacock on Saturday at 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT. Check out NBC's official announcement below:
With the 50th anniversary only a few seasons away, will we see 'Saturday Night Live' without its leader in the near future?