October 31st, 2008
12:40 PM ET

The future of 'Saturday Night Live'

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been instrumental to “Saturday Night Live’s” success this season. But now the two are going - Fey (who was just a guest star this year, anyway) back to her show, “30 Rock,” and Poehler to new motherhood and an announced show from the producers of “The Office.”

This game of musical chairs could be great for Poehler and “SNL” - or it could be a disaster.

First things first: Poehler’s departure leaves “SNL” in need of another breakout female star. So it’s time to get Kristen Wiig a season's worth of Red Bull.

Wiig is by far the most brilliant of the women remaining on “SNL.” Her Target Lady, "surprise" Sue, Suze Orman, Travel Reporter and "Penelope" sketches have potential to turn her into a huge comedic success.

Which is why I hope “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels and the rest of the writers don't abuse her. She has the talent to handle the work; I just hope they choose her skits with care.

If the writers know what's good for them, they will shy away from doing what they did to Wiig last week when they had her practically read the exact same "Surprise" skit from months earlier, just in a different setting. Don't ruin a good thing - especially when it’s all you've got.

Poehler had an ability to nail small quirks of characters, like with her untouchable "hot tranny mess" Christian Siriano "fierce"-fest that made my roommate and me watch and rewatch the “Project Runway” skit on a regular basis. Those episodes are still on our DVR and will remain there until Comcast decides to accidentally delete my recordings for no reason.

In fact, “SNL” had worked its way up to the top of my DVR save-until-we-delete pile. But I fear it won't be there for long. Even if Wiig is used well, the show has plenty of holes.

Michaels has told media outlets he plans to fill the holes by casting two new females, but its unlikely to be anytime soon. Michaels also said he plans to leave Seth Meyers solo on "Weekend Update" for the "foreseeable future."

And what of Poehler? The entertainment world has been littered with the failed sitcoms and movies of “SNL” veterans. I’d hate to see Poehler end up in a version of "It's Pat," "A Night at the Roxbury," "The Ladies' Man" and Molly Shannon's new flop of a show "Kath and Kim."

So Amy, please choose wisely. And you, too, Lorne.

– Mallory Simon, CNN


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