NBC adds six new players to 'Saturday Night Live'

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Late-night sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" has added six new members to its cast after a number of its biggest stars departed following last season, TV network NBC said on Monday.

Comedians Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, Mike O'Brien, Noël Wells and Brooks Wheelan were added as featured players to "Saturday Night Live" for its 39th season, which will begin on September 28.

Longtime cast members Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis left the show when the last season finished in May, highlighting the loss of top talent in recent years.

Popular mainstays Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg departed in 2012 for higher-profile roles in film and TV.

The New York-based show, which has launched the Hollywood careers of Chevy Chase, Mike Myers, Tina Fey and others, is also expected to lose Seth Mayers, its head writer and anchor of the popular "Weekend Update" news segment, in February when he takes over NBC's "Late Night" talk show.

NBC is a unit of Comcast Corp .

"SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels told the New York Times newspaper on Sunday that current cast member Cecily Strong would co-anchor "Weekend Update" segment with Meyers this fall and is expected to succeed him next year.

Under another scenario, Michaels said, Meyers would stay on as an anchor even after he takes the "Late Night" reins.

"Weekend Update" has been a springboard to post-"SNL" success for many comedic actors, including Chase, Fey, "Parks and Recreation" star Amy Poehler and current "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon.

The latest season of "SNL" garnered 15 Emmy nominations.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Steve Orlofsky)

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