SNL will pick up with its 42nd season tomorrow night, albeit without recent mainstays Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah, who were unexpectedly dismissed from the cast over the summer. Now, SNL boss Lorne Michaels explains the decision, noting “They served the show well.”

Michaels spoke to USA Today of the SNL Season 42 changes, which also include Alec Baldwin taking over the role of Donald Trump from Darrell Hammond, and multiple additions to fill the void of Pharoah, Killam and featured player Jon Rudnitsky. Even as a year apparently remained on Pharoah and Killam’s contracts, Michaels seemed to suggest they’d be successful elsewhere:

I think they were great, and they did wonderful work when they were with us. They served the show well, and are two people I really care about … Change is the lifeblood of the show; it always has been. And you have to keep bringing new people in. Hopefully it’s for the best. I’m not worried about either of them going on to success.

Both stars have since been cast in Showtime pilots (of which network heads claimed the plan was to divide their time with SNL), though Killam in particular expressed initial shock with Michaels’ decision:

I don’t know the other side of it. You sign for seven years, so I had one more year. I had sort of had it in my head I would make this upcoming year my last year, but then heard they weren’t going to pick up my contract. I was never given a reason why, really. I can assume until the cows come home. But I do know I’m directing this movie [Why We’re Killing Gunther with Arnold Schwarzenegger] and I’ll have two months of post-production that would have bled into the SNL production schedule, so we kind of communicated that.

Suicide Squad star Margot Robbie will help usher in the changes for SNL Season 42 this weekend, followed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt, but is Michaels’ nonchalant explanation enough to justify such unexpected turnover?

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