'SNL' Paid Live Studio Audience Members $150 USD Each

Chris Rock and Megan Thee Stallion served as the host and musical guest, respectively.

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Live studio audience members who were present at the Season 46 premiere of Saturday Night Live were paid $150 USD each for attending, but it was solely to comply with New York‘s COVID-19 guidelines.

According to reports, New York’s coronavirus guidelines state that TV shows “must prohibit live audiences unless they consist only of paid employees, cast and crew.” SNL technically casted its live studio audience members as extras when they were paid $150 USD to attend, and the show therefore adhered to state protocols.

“There is no evidence of noncompliance,” Jonah Bruno, a spokesperson for the state’s health department, confirmed to the Times.

Audience members managed to nab tickets via a third-party website, and those signing up to watch the show needed to confirm that they did not contract COVID-19 or have experienced its symptoms. Guests were required to get their temperatures recorded and take a nasal antigen test (results were available before the show started) upon arriving at 30 Rock, and they also needed to wear a face mask while inside the building.

Writer Sean Ludwig was one of the few audience members present during the season premiere, and he took to Twitter to share a photo of his friends and more information. “Just passed rapid COVID tests and double masked with 25% capacity and socially distanced audience. First time ever at SNL and ready to laugh despite the madness of the world,” he wrote in one tweet. A followup read, “Had an incredible time tonight at @nbcsnl. Here’s the kicker: we didn’t know it until after but we were PAID for our time, likely to meet New York State’s requirements for only paid staff to be in the audience.”

Chris Rock and Megan Thee Stallion served as the host and musical guest, respectively, for the season opener and it logged the highest viewership for a season debut in four years.

Elsewhere in entertainment, Warner Bros. has delayed The Batman, The Flash, Shazam! 2 and Black Adam.

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