Michaels tells Vulture's Jesse David Fox in an extended interview that Saturday Night Live is expected to have a limited live audience when it returns for its Season 46 premiere on Oct. 3. "We need the audience, obviously," he says. "With comedy, when you don’t hear the response, it’s just different. With the kind of comedy we do, which quite often is broad, timing gets thrown off without an audience. And for me, what is most important is when you’re absolutely certain of some piece on Wednesday, and then the dress-rehearsal audience sees it on Saturday and tells you you’re wrong." Michaels also discusses the challenges of producing a live show in the coronavirus era, including limiting the number of people in the studio and control room. "At the same time, I made the decision early on, or at least about a month ago, that we would do something we hadn’t done before, which was five shows in a row," he says. "Because there are four debates and then it’s Halloween, and that’s the weekend before the election. And sadly, if the election gets extended, then we’ll be doing six or seven shows in a row. Fatigue has been part of it, so we’re trying to make sure that everyone is safe and protected and looked after. The show will be compromised on some levels of production, but it will be recognizable as the show you’ve seen all these years." Michaels also announced that SNL will have a new head writer for Season 46: Anna Drezen, who has been on the writing staff since 2016. Michaels also says that some of the regular cast members won't be on all the shows due to their commitments to other projects. "So many people had committed to doing projects in the summer, which then got moved," he said. "Aidy (Bryant) has been doing Shrill, and she’ll be here for some shows and have to go back to that for others. Cecily (Strong) is doing a project in Vancouver, but we’ll green screen her for things. People will stay involved, but they may not physically be in the studio."