'SNL's' Yuuuge Year: 20 Insiders Reveal Alec Baldwin's Future as Trump, "Spicey" Secrets and Lorne Michaels' Election Pep Talk

Everyone from Kate McKinnon to Chris Rock gives THR backstage access to a historic season as they reveal how Melissa McCarthy became Sean Spicer (with help from Kristen Stewart), the joke Aziz Ansari had to cut, and how D.C. chaos is fueling the highest ratings in decades: "You almost feel like a war profiteer."


Outside of a cadre of furious tweets, Alec Baldwin hasn't heard a peep from the man he's been portraying for the past eight months on Saturday Night Live.

But Baldwin, who's enjoying another career renaissance thanks to his casting as Donald Trump on NBC's late-night staple, has heard from one member of the president's inner circle. "I'm not going to name names, but a cabinet member walked up to me at a restaurant in Manhattan — Manhattan, that's a hint — and he goes, 'I gotta tell you something. This thing you're doing is good, it's really good,' " says the 59-year-old actor. "He goes, 'I'll get fired if anybody quoted me saying this, but that's exactly what he's like when you do it.' "

When Baldwin hosted the show for the 17th time this season, he had urged SNL creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels and his staff to invite the president to join them in Studio 8H. "I would have loved to have had him," says Baldwin, seated now in an SNL dressing room. A show spokesperson says the request was never made.

Instead, 11 million weekly viewers have feasted on a growing coterie of impersonators — Kate McKinnon as Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Beck Bennett as Vice President Mike Pence and Russian President Vladimir Putin and breakout Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer — that has made this season's SNL the most watched in 23 years. Sure, having Baldwin and McCarthy on the program regularly has added logistical complexity — both come subject to their schedules, and neither shows up until Friday at the earliest — but the additions have earned SNL heaps of critical praise, a steady stream of viral hits and its best shot at a variety series Emmy in two decades.

Now, with SNL's 42nd season set to wrap May 20, 20 of those involved with the show's wild year share what happened behind the scenes when Dave Chappelle agreed to host, when McCarthy pitched Kristen Stewart on a flight from L.A. and how the cast and crew reacted when the man many at SNL believed was a national punch line actually became president of the United States.

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