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This season featured the first former female cast member as a host. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a cast member from 1982 to 1985, hosted in May 2006.
The opening montage for the 2005 season was identical to that of the 2004 season, except for several minor variations. The names were displayed in a different font. The montage was also produced in widescreen and high definition.
The opening montage introduced on the 32nd-season premiere involved the cast on a roof-top party in New York City. It was a completely new production from the previous montage, featuring a completely new logo and VTR. The font was in a plain greyish colour with bold lettering, where each word is progressively larger than the last in both the title and cast credits, with footage of New York City in the background. The musical guest and host's pictures are simply seen over top of the background footage instead of inserted onto a billboard like the previous season.
With the Jaime Pressly episode airing on October 7, 2006, the montage was changed slightly to include an SNL logo changed to a design and typeface identical to the 1981-1985 SNL logo. The pictures of the host and musical guest were placed over the entire screen, instead of over the New York City footage. This new montage was also used for the rerun for the Dane Cook/The Killers episode, replacing the originally-aired one.
Also changing for the October 14, 2006 repeat was the logo. The logo kept the same look, but condensed to look thinner, and to fit wide screen.
The commercial bumpers featured the host and musical guest in a solid color background, that featured many colors. The logo usually featured the current logo of "Saturday Night Live", or bold lettering of "SNL". The font is Gotham Ultra Bold.
SNL had a smaller cast in the 2006-2007 season due to "massive budget cuts" at NBC. Lorne Michaels said that cutting staff was chosen over reducing from 20 the number of original episodes produced. A separate announcement confirmed the departure of Tina Fey, who left to focus on her new show 30 Rock.Rachel Dratch, one of the stars in the 30 Rock pilot (though subsequently replaced by Jane Krakowski), also did not return.
In September 2006, it was announced that Seth Meyers would replace Tina Fey as co-anchor on Weekend Update.
Seth Meyers shares head writer status with Paula Pell and Andrew Steele (writer). Due to this position, like Fey before him, he appears rarely on the show outside of Weekend Update, but is credited as a repertory player. Pell returned to the show after her sitcom, Thick and Thin, wasn't picked up.
The 2007-2008 season of Saturday Night Live began on September 29, 2007 with LeBron James hosting the episode and musical guest Kanye West. Production was suspended due to the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike, after which only four episodes were produced.
The show's first episode after the writers' strike was aired on February 23, 2008, with former head writer and cast member Tina Fey as host.
The opening montage for the 2007-2008 season was identical to that of the previous season, though the artwork for the host and musical guest is now a black and white portrait.
Instead of featuring a solid color background, the background colors for the bumpers were usually white. There were rare occasions of the background being black, or gray. The logo was the same as last season, either featuring the full current logo, "Saturday Night Live", or featuring a bold lettering of "SNL". The logos featured different colors.
The first four episodes feature the same cast as Season 32. By the time the show returned in February 2008 after the writer's strike, Maya Rudolph had left the show (and it would take another seven years before another black female cast member would be hired), she would also become SNL's new longest serving female cast member. She surpassed Molly Shannon (who stayed for 7 seasons: 1995-2001), as Rudolph stayed for 9 Seasons, but Rudolph Joined the show in early 2000 before leaving the show in late 2007 which makes her to remain for a little over 7 years, she stayed on 146 episodes as a credited cast member, however, Vanessa Bayer surpassed her record as she stayed on for 149 episodes over the span of 7 seasons.
Casey Wilson was hired as a featured player to take her place.
Casey Wilson is the first new cast member to join the show in over two years. Wilson is also SNL's first cast member born in the 1980s.
Amy Poehler was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on the show.
Also, as of Maya Rudolph's departure, Poehler became the longest-tenured current female cast member, as she joined SNL in 2001.
Due to the writer's strike, this was SNL's shortest season (beating out seasons six and thirteen, which were also cut short due to writers' strikes involving the Writers' Guild of America, but managed to have 13 episodes each before the show went on hiatus due to the strikes), containing only 12 episodes, and the only strike-shortened season to continue after the strike ended. The first four episodes of season 33 aired in the fall of 2007 (hosted by basketball player LeBron James, comic actor Seth Rogen, Bon Jovi frontman Jon Bon Jovi, and news anchor Brian Williams) before the show went on hiatus until February 2008, when it resumed production until May of that year.
Brian Williams becomes the first network news anchor to host Saturday Night Live.
During the summer reruns, the scheduled rerun of the episode hosted by Ellen Page was replaced with a rebroadcast of SNL's very first episode hosted by George Carlin, as Carlin died of heart failure in June 2008.
The 2008-2009 season of Saturday Night Live began September 13, 2008 with host Michael Phelps and musical guest Lil' Wayne.
The opening montage remains the same as the last two seasons, but this time, the majority of the opening is in black and white, while the cast credits remain in color. The "SNL" logo and the cast credits appear smaller to fit into the 4:3 "safe area". In the second episode of the season, the video for Casey Wilson's credit was changed. In the fourth episode, the show went back to being shown in letterbox in some markets.
The bumpers now have variously colored backdrops instead of the plain white from last season. The season's first three episodes had the "SNL" logo within the 4:3 "title-safe area." From episode 4 and on, however, the logo has been in the 16:9 title-safe area.
At its annual fall schedule presentation on April 2, 2008, NBC revealed it would air three half-hour episodes of "SNL Thursday Night Live", a presidential election-themed Weekend Update special, on Thursdays starting October 16, 2008.
Amy Poehler left the show in mid-December to work on her new show, Parks and Recreation. So, Kristen Wiig became the longest-tenured current female cast member (she joined SNL in the 2005-2006 season).
Bobby Moynihan, Abby Elliott and Michaela Watkins join the cast this season as featured players, the latter two coming in during Poehler's maternity leave.
This season had 22 episodes instead of the usual 20 to make up for the episodes left unproduced during the 2007-2008 Writers' Guild strike. As of this season, all of SNL's seasons would have 22 episodes instead of 20 (though as of season 38 [2012-2013] the seasons have 21 episodes).
Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake would receive Emmy nominations for the work on the show, Poehler and Wiig for their work as cast members, Fey as a guest actress, and Timberlake as a guest actor.
With this season, Abby Elliott is the first child of a former SNL cast member to be a cast member. She is the daughter of season 20 (1994-1995 season) cast member Chris Elliott.
Darrell Hammond leaves after this season. At 14 years (1995-2009), Hammond is now the longest-running white male repertory cast member in SNL history.
Featured players Casey Wilson and Michaela Watkins were let go after this season. With this season, Casey Wilson is now the first former cast member born after SNL's premiere (Wilson was born in 1980).
The 2009-2010 season of Saturday Night Live began September 26, 2009 with host Megan Fox and musical guest U2.
The opening montage introduced on the 35th-season premiere featured the cast in random places in New York City. The montage features the same logo as the previous seasons but instead of the greyish color it's now a light greenish color with bold lettering. The host and musical guest are pictures cover the entire screen when introduced. In the second episode the host and musical guest have a small picture that is circled with bright colors, the background features it going down a city street.
The commercial bumpers featured the host and musical guest in a light color background. The logo usually featured the current logo of "Saturday Night Live", or bold lettering of "SNL" (often with the number "35" attached to commemorate SNL's 35 years on the air).
Departed featured players Casey Wilson and Michaela Watkins are replaced by newcomers Nasim Pedrad and Jenny Slate.
Nasim Pedrad is the first Middle Eastern SNL cast member and the fifth cast member to be born outside of North America (after the Italian-born Tony Rosato, the New Zealand-born Pamela Stephenson, the England-born Morwenna Banks, and the Chilean-born Horatio Sanz).
This season is the first without Darrell Hammond, the last cast member from the 1990s. Hammond left the show after a record setting 14 season run.
With Hammond gone, Seth Meyers is now currently the longest-running cast member, having been on the show since 2001, Fred Armisen is now the oldest cast member and the only cast member who was born before 1970 (Armisen was born in 1966), and the entire cast consists of people who were hired in 2001 or later.
The Gerard Butler/Shakira episode is the first time that a sole advertiser (Anheiser-Busch's Bud Light Golden Wheat) bought all national ad time. In exchange, SNL aired outtakes (some of which are from sketches that never aired due to actors flubbing lines or cracking up too much to stay in character) from various sketches from the 1990s and the 2000s.
In early 2010, an online campaign was created on Facebook to get actress Betty White to host an episode of SNL. In March 2010, White confirmed that she would be hosting the May 8 episode. White's episode garnered around 12 million viewers, the highest since the 2008 election.
This season featured many milestones set by the hosts and musical guests:
Sigourney Weaver now has the longest between appearances at 24 years (her first hosting appearance was the season 12 premiere episode in 1986), beating out Madeline Kahn, who had an 18-year gap between her second appearance in 1977 and her third and final appearance in 1995. Weaver's record was broken again in the 2010-2011 season, by Jeff Bridges, who has a 27-year gap between appearances (Jeff Bridges first hosted SNL with his brother, Beau, in 1983).
Jennifer Lopez is now the first Hispanic celebrity to be a simultaneous host and musical guest for more than one episode (Lopez first hosted and was musical guest in a season 26 episode in 2001).
Tina Fey is now the first Lorne Michaels-era former female cast member to host more than one episode and the second former female cast member overall to host more than one episode, following Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Taylor Lautner is now the first seventeen-year-old male celebrity to host SNL (the other three 17-year-olds who have hosted--The Olsen twins and Lindsay Lohan--were female).
Betty White is now the oldest celebrity to ever host SNL at age 88½, beating out the 80-year-old Miskel Spillman (the winner of SNL's "Anyone Can Host" contest back in 1977), the second cast member from The Golden Girls to host SNL (after Bea Arthur, who hosted prior to starring in The Golden Girls in a season five episode in 1979), and is the first celebrity to be chosen to host SNL based on an online petition.
Alec Baldwin now ties with Steve Martin for most frequent male SNL host (both Baldwin and Martin have hosted 15 times). Baldwin's episode is also the first time he ever hosted a season finale. Two seasons later, Baldwin would break Steve Martin's record of most episodes hosted.
Drew Barrymore is now the most frequent female SNL host. Barrymore has hosted six times, breaking the tie she once held with Candice Bergen.
Justin Bieber, at age 16, is now the youngest male solo musical guest to appear on SNL.
This is the last season featuring Will Forte, who was on the show since 2002. Jenny Slate's contract was not renewed for another season.