Past and present cast members, as well as special and musical guests from the show's run, will appear on the telecast, with the specific lineup of guests to be determined in the coming months.
"This brand, which is still one of the highest-rated comedies on television, was the brainchild of Lorne Michaels, who still presides over the whole enterprise today," said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, in a statement. "This special is just one of the many ways we plan to celebrate 'SNL's historic 40th season next year."
The "SNL" anniversary specials often serve as a time capsule of sorts, with major players from the program returning to reprise their old antics. In 1989, Chevy Chase opened a 15th anniversary special by doing one of the pratfalls that made him famous when he starred in the comedy program in its first season back in 1975. Bill Murray opened a 1999 25th anniversary special by doing his "Nick the Lounge Singer" character.
Fans of the latenight program will no doubt be watching to see if Michaels and NBC can convince actor Eddie Murphy to return to the show for the special. Murphy, who is one of the program's most successful alumni, has never appeared on one of several specials that NBC has aired over the years to celebrate the show's longevity. Nor has he returned to the program in the way that other cast members like Tina Fey, Will Ferrell or Dan Aykroyd have. Murphy got his start on "SNL" in the early 1980s, during a time when Michaels had left the program to pursue other ventures.
Other alumni of the show include Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Adam Sandler, Mike Meyers, Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock and Maya Rudolph.
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