Morgan Wallen Will Be Replaced by Jack White On SNL After Getting Caught Partying Without A Mask On TikTok
Updated October 9, 2020: Looks like not following COVID-19 protocol has some serious consequences after all. After being exposed turning up at a party and not social distancing, Morgan Wallen's debut musical performance on the upcoming episode of Saturday Night Live has been cancelled.
"[Wallen] probably isn’t the first country singer [or] the first person from rock and roll who partied after, in this case, a football game, or a concert," said SNL head Lorne Michaels of the decision to bench the country star just days before the show. "We’re just living in a different time.”
Jack White of The White Stripes has been scouted last minute to replace him. It will be the singer's third time performing on the show; he's appeared on SNL one with his alternative rock band and twice as a solo artist.
This story was originally published on October 7, 2020.
The 46th season of Saturday Night Live is officially underway, and things at Studio 8H are (mostly) back to normal with just a few significant changes to follow COVID-19 protocol. However, one of the extracurricular activities of one of its upcoming musical guests might create a serious problem for the production, raising speculation about just how safe the SNL set is after all.
Country singer Morgan Wallen is scheduled to make his debut performance on the upcoming third episode of the sketch comedy series, serving as the musical guest for stand-up comedian Bill Burr. Just days before his major gig, however, the musician is being criticized for not social distancing thanks to a damning TikTok post circulating online.
TikTok user ashleighludlam uploaded a video that showed Wallen turning up at a party. As if partying in the middle of a literal pandemic isn’t bad enough, the TikTok also shows Wallen walking around without a mask at the crowded function and even kissing an unmasked woman. For someone who is scheduled to show up at a television production that recently had to film virtually because of COVID-19 concerns, the behavior isn't exactly the best look.
SNL's coronavirus protocol is already under fire these days, thanks to its finessing of new state regulations regarding its filming process. The state of New York prohibits productions from having live audiences unless they're made up of paid cast members, crew workers, or other employees. That in-house audience is capped at 100 people, seated in socially distant fashion and separated by six feet. To get around that, SNL surprised its audience members with a $150 check after the show was over — technically making them paid employees of the production. Before they were even allowed to enter the studio, the audience members also engaged in rapid temperature checks, were grouped in pods, and wore masks for the duration of the show.
“SNL has confirmed that they followed the reopening guidance," Health Department spokesman Jonah Bruno told The Post. "Including selecting audience members through a third-party screening and casting process and compensating them for their time as paid audience members.”
With all of these strict precautions put in place to prevent Studio 8H from being a superspreader event, will Wallen's partying disqualify him from performing on the show this weekend? It can go either way. If there's anything that this pandemic had taught us, it's that everything can be done from home — a virtual performance from Wallen and his band is definitely a possibility. But it's the principle of the matter. Just stay home and wear a mask, especially the week of a major gig.
Refinery29 has reached out to Wallen and SNL for comment.