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Cecily Strong gives Seth Meyers hope for the future of ‘SNL’

Cecily Strong Seth Meyers 'Saturday Night Live.'

Cecily Strong and Seth Meyers on "Saturday Night Live."

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Updated: September 29, 2013 6:33AM

The recent exodus of key “Saturday Night Live” cast members has the show facing its biggest talent turnover in nearly two decades.

But head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers said he isn’t worried about the upheaval heading into season 39, and he pointed to “SNL” rookie Cecily Strong as a major reason why.

The Oak Park native emerged as a breakout shortly after joining the NBC’s late-night show last fall as a featured player along with Chicago-trained comics Aidy Bryant and Tim Robinson.

“For her to have the kind of season she had the year after [Kristen] Wiig left is that thing that makes you confident going into this next season of transition that there’s always someone who shows up and does things you’ve never seen anyone on the show do,” Meyers said.

Strong made her mark with memorable characters like Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.

“She did this move where she reached into her purse, checked her Blackberry and shook her head like she didn’t want to talk to that person and kept going,” Meyers said. “All the writers were talking about it afterward the way baseball scouts would talk if they saw someone throw 101 mph. Her natural ability has kind of blown everybody away.”

The iO and Second City alum also happens to be a great writer, Meyers said, noting that she penned the well-received skit about former porn stars shilling “Sabosky” crystals along with writer Colin Jost and repertory player Vanessa Bayer.

Evanston-born Meyers will bid adieu to “SNL” midway through the upcoming season — his 13th — to take over “Late Night” hosting duties from Jimmy Fallon. “SNL” veterans Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen called it quits after last season.

The departures put the show in rebuilding mode. But the impending change isn’t “any bigger than ones that have happened historically,” Meyers said.

A half dozen new cast members debuted in 1995, the same year Adam Sandler and Chris Farley were fired. and others have reported that five top candidates are in line to fill the vacancies: John Milhiser, Noel Wells, Kyle Mooney and Wilmette native Beck Bennett (the straight man surrounded by precocious kids in AT&T’s “It’s Not Complicated” ads), as well as Chicago-trained “SNL” writer Michael Patrick O’Brien.

“It’s a really exciting time to be at the show,” Meyers said, adding that his favorite season was 2005-06, when newcomers Andy Samberg came on board along with Wiig, Sudeikis and Hader. “I’m really glad I’m going back for the first half of next year.”


Twitter: @lorirackl

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