Kenan Thompson May Be Leaving ‘Saturday Night Live’ for His Own Sitcom

Kenan Thompson Marries
The 'SNL' star weds model Christine Evangeline.
Seth Meyers Stays Put
The 'SNL' star won't be Kelly Ripa's morning co-host.
Kenan Thompson leaving NBC’s Saturday Night Live? Oo-wee, what’s up with that?

According to TV Guide, the veteran SNL star is developing a sitcom to star in, a multi-generational family comedy about a man who moves in with his in-laws, that would take him away from the sketch comedy show where he’s been a mainstay for a decade.

He’d still be keeping it in the family, sort of. The show would air on NBC and be produced by SNL overseer Lorne Michaels, who also shepherded Tina Fey’s transition from SNL to NBC primetime with 30 Rock. In fact, 30 Rock’s Andrew Singer is also on board Thompson’s show as an exec producer, as is SNL scribe Bryan Tucker, who is crafting the script for Thompson’s pilot.

Thompson, 34, has been on SNL since 2003. His 10 seasons on the show make him one of the most durable stars in SNL history and tie him with Tim Meadows as the longest-tenured African-American star on the show. In fact, he’s been doing TV sketch comedy since he was a kid, working on Nickelodeon’s 1990s series All That.

As one of SNL’s rare African-American performers — before Jay Pharoah came along a couple years ago, he was the only one on the show for a while — Thompson could be counted on to do impressions of black stars from Bill Cosby to Whoopi Goldberg. He also created a memorable original character, D’Andre Cole, the enthusiastically musical host of imaginary BET current-events talk show What’s Up With That.

Thompson’s departure would mark yet another sign that the guard has changed at SNL. Before the current season began, such seemingly indispensable performers as Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg left, and Jason Sudeikis (who’s been at the show as long as Thompson) is also expected to leave mid-season. If Thompson leaves, then Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and head writer Seth Meyers will be the only performers left from the 38-year-old show’s recent creative peak of the mid-2000s.

A source close to the situation confirmed to Celebuzz that NBC has picked up the script to the Thompson project. Beyond that, the source said, “It’s still in the early stages.” The source noted that Meyers also has a script deal at NBC but seems in no hurry to leave SNL. So any Thompson departure is likely a long way off.

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