'SNL' paid audience members $150 each to adhere to NYC COVID-19 guidelines

'SNL' paid audience members $150 each to adhere to NYC COVID-19 guidelines
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"Saturday Night Live" paid audience members $150 each to attend its season premiere Saturday in an effort to comply with New York City coronavirus guidelines, according to The New York Times.

The program, which was broadcast live before an indoor studio audience at Rockefeller Center in New York City despite Broadway being shuttered and the city's movie theaters being closed, was hosted by comedian Chris Rock and featured Jim Carrey's first performance as Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Saudis picked up drugs in Cairo used to kill Khashoggi: report Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting MORE.

New York COVID-19 guidelines say media productions can only host an audience if it is composed of paid individuals for the production company. By paying the audience, NBC was able to count them as employees.


"SNL has confirmed that they followed the reopening guidance, including selecting audience members through a third-party screening and casting process and compensating them for their time as paid audience members," New York City Health Department spokesman Jonah Bruno said in a statement.

The guidelines also say the show can only have an audience at 25 percent capacity while never exceeding 100 people.

Audience members, who consisted of first responders, were administered temperature checks, wore masks and took a rapid test before entering Studio 8-H for the show's 46th season launch.

Rock created controversy in his opening monologue in addressing what he described as "the elephant in the room" regarding Trump testing positive coronavirus and going to Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment late last week.

"President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE is in the hospital from COVID," Rock said. "I just want to say my heart goes out to COVID."

The premiere drew the most viewers from "SNL" since 2016 in attracting 7.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.