“SNL” had a live hearing. He came home with paychecks.

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Based on the pandemic era media production guidelines that have been released by the state, TV shows are not allowed to host live audiences unless they consist of employees. paid, actors and team. And if the show decides to create an audience from its employees, the audience can only be 25% of its usual size – and can’t exceed 100 people.

This left “SNL” with an option that would allow them to include members of the public in its live hearings while respecting state rules: paying those members of the public as employees.

A spokesperson for the state’s health department, Jonah Bruno, said in a statement Monday evening that “SNL” had confirmed to them that he had followed the state’s reopening guidelines in selecting members of the public. through a third party screening and casting process and compensating them for their time.

“There is no evidence of non-compliance,” he said, “but if such a situation is discovered, we will take it to local authorities for follow-up.”

A spokesperson for “Saturday Night Live” said in an email that the show “was working closely with the Department of Health and following all of its guidelines.” The spokeswoman did not specify how many members of the “SNL” public were paid.

“SNL,” which airs from Studio 8H at NBC’s Rockefeller Plaza headquarters, had to end its live episodes in March amid the spread of the pandemic. It concluded its previous season with three remotely produced episodes consisting of sketches that its cast members had filmed from home.

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