Entertainment TV 'SNL' Creator Lorne Michaels Calls Season 48 a 'Transition Year' in the Wake of 7 Cast Members' Exits Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels also confirmed that four new cast members are joining for the new season By Kelly Wynne Kelly Wynne Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on September 14, 2022 01:31 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Saturday Night Live is ready to welcome a "different generation" of talent, says creator Lorne Michaels. In the wake of seven cast members' exits since May, Michaels acknowledged on Monday that season 48 "will be a transition year, and the change years are always difficult." "There are new people, and things are changing, and a different generation comes into the show," Michaels, 77, told reporters backstage at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards after SNL picked up its sixth consecutive outstanding variety series trophy. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Per TV Line's report, Michaels added that it's an "exciting" time for the long-running late-night sketch show, and he also confirmed that four unnamed new cast members will join SNL ahead of the new season. SNL's mass exodus began in May when longtime cast members Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Pete Davidson left the show after the season 47 finale. Three More SNL Stars Exit: Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari Won't Join Season 48 PEOPLE confirmed on Sept. 1 that three additional SNL comedians — cast members Melissa Villaseñor and Alex Moffat, as well as featured comedian Aristotle Athari — would not be returning for season 48. Behind-the-scenes power player Lindsay Shookus also announced her exit from the series in August. Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Michaels noted that the COVID pandemic over the last few years may have played into SNL stars' decisions about when and how to take their final bow. "I think people might've left earlier, but there was no place to go," he acknowledged. "It was difficult, particularly when you're rehearsing in masks and it's all protocols and there's nothing to do after the show except go home." Bryant, 35, backed up this theory in a June interview with Variety: "If it weren't for COVID, I probably would have left a few years earlier. But it was such a huge change. When COVID hit, it was so jarring that we were all like, 'I'm definitely going to come back next year.'" Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday. Season 48 of SNL will premiere Oct. 1 on NBC.