September 16, 2013 8:22am PT by Seth Abramovitch
'SNL' Announces Hire of 6 New Castmembers
Lorne Michaels has made his decisions. Now it's time for them to make us laugh, and in doing so, make themselves stars.
A statement released from NBC on Monday morning has made official what was previously reported by The Hollywood Reporter -- that Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, John Milhiser and Noel Wells have been added to the Saturday Night Live cast this season as featured players. Also joining the cast is Mike O'Brien, who has been part of the writing team for the past four seasons.
But wait -- there's more. Brooks Wheelan, a Los Angeles-based stand-up comedian, was a late decision and has been added as the sixth new featured player, in one of the most ambitious casting overhauls in the show's history. The news was first reported by the New York Times on Sunday.
According to sources at his showcase audition, Wheelan openly admitted to not being able to do characters and jokingly wondered what he was doing there. But the show has a long history of casting stand-ups -- including Norm Macdonald, Colin Quinn and Chris Rock -- and Michaels saw in Wheelan enough charisma to warrant a spot in front of the camera.
The Times also reported that Cecily Strong, who joined the show in 2012, will join Seth Meyers for a coveted spot on the Weekend Update desk. Michaels said in an interview that he hoped Meyers would stay with the show past February, beyond the debut of his Late Night gig.
Scribes Colin Jost and Rob Klein will take over head writer duties from Meyers. And Tim Robinson, who joined the cast as a feature player last season, will move behind-the-scenes to the writers room.
The venerable NBC laugher enters its 39th season on Sept. 28, with Tina Fey as host and musical guest Arcade Fire.