2:59pm PT by Rick Porter
'Saturday Night Live' Promotes Heidi Gardner, Chris Redd to Regular Cast
Saturday Night Live's preseason cast shuffling continues with the promotion of two featured players to full castmembers.
Heidi Gardner and Chris Redd will be part of the main cast — announced at the top of the opening credits rather than at the end — when the show begins its 45th season this Saturday. Both joined SNL as featured players in 2017.
NBC declined comment.
Their promotion means Saturday Night Live will head into the season with a regular cast of 14 and three featured players in Ego Nwodim, entering her second year, and newcomers Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang (Yang was previously a writer on the show). Leslie Jones has departed the show to focus on movie work and a forthcoming Netflix stand-up special, but the rest of the regulars are all set to return.
Comedian Shane Gillis was also initially announced as a featured player, but was dropped from the show after racial and homophobic slurs he used on a podcast came to light.
"We have decided that [Gillis] will not be joining SNL," a show spokesperson said on behalf of executive producer Lorne Michaels several days after the podcast comments were dug up. "We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as comedian and his impressive audition for SNL. We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard."
Gardner has several recurring "Weekend Update" characters, including Angel, Every Boxer's Girlfriend From Every Movie About Boxing and teenage film critic Bailey Gismert. She's also done impressions of Fox and Friends host Ainsley Earhardt, Drew Barrymore and Allison Janney, among others.
Redd's SNL impressions include Sen. Cory Booker, Kanye West, This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown and Katt Williams. He also has starred in a number of pre-filmed sketches, including last season's hip-hop video "Trees" and concerned-teacher parody "Mr. H" with James McAvoy.
Deadline first reported the news.