Ryan Gosling and Jay-Z are the host and featured musical act, respectively, on Saturday Night Live this weekend as the show kicks off its 43rd season, but they won't be the only fresh faces on the set. An NBC statement notes three newbies—Groundlings veteran Heidi Gardner, comic Chris Redd, and musical comedian Luke Null—will join the show's cast, filling the slots left empty by Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, and Sasheer Zamata, who all left after last season, the Washington Post notes. The writing pen is getting a boost, too, with the addition of at least seven new writers, per the Hollywood Reporter, which notes the show is coming off the whirlwind success of last season's nine Emmys—notably for Melissa McCarthy's portrayal of Sean Spicer, Kate McKinnon's supporting actress contributions, and Alec Baldwin's turn as Donald Trump.
Deadline notes last season was also the show's most-watched in nearly 25 years. But the show has also been plagued with complaints about its lack of staff diversity, with the Post noting Zamata, a black woman, was hired in 2013 only after executive producer Lorne Michaels held special auditions following complaints about the show's lack of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. Vanity Fair calls the behind-the-scenes Nimesh Patel the "most intriguing new hire" for the show in that regard: Patel joins the writing squad from a South Asian perspective. One consistency in this year's lineup: Kenan Thompson, who will start his record-breaking 15th season, surpassing Darrell Hammond's 14-year stint, per Vibe. (Read more Saturday Night Live stories.)