One of Manhattan’s toughest acts to catch live is now apparently paying people $150 apiece to watch in person. Now that Saturday Night Live has returned to Studio 8H after spring’s transition to “At Home” editions, it needs a live audience—but technically speaking, that’s not quite legal per state production guidelines, Gothamist reports. The solution? Handing over an estimated $10,000 per episode to compensate audience members for their time.
Everyone involved in the tapings, as Lorne Michaels noted in a recent interview, must test negative for COVID-19 before they enter 30 Rock. Per Gothamist, audience members were required to wear masks and provide information for contact tracing. Still, the site notes, the audience was not properly socially distanced during Saturday’s season premiere. In a statement, Health Department spokesman Jonah Bruno told Gothamist, “There is no evidence of non-compliance—but if any is discovered, we will refer that to local authorities for follow up.” An SNL spokesperson said they are working with the Department of Health and following all guidelines.