I realize that hosts on SNL are often there to plug whatever project they're working on. But unlike going on a talk show for 15 minutes, it's a much bigger multi-day commitment with practices, learning lines (err..I mean reading cue cards), etc. Other than perhaps lodging/meal/incidental expenses, are they paid for their time? On a related note, what about the recurring guest spots like Alec Baldwin portraying Donald Trump or Melissa McCarthy playing Sean Spicer?

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    Union rules mean that pretty much anyone appearing on screen get paid, even guests on a talk show. The audience doesn't have to be paid, but they can't be charged admission either.
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 9:31
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    @RossRidge - I find it interesting that audiences aren't charged for tv shows but are charged for theater shows.
    – iMerchant
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 9:34
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    I think that may be why, if they charged admission to a TV show it would also be theatrical show and they'd have to pay everyone according those union rules as well.
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 9:48
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    @RossRidge that would make a really useful answer, actually. The current answers focus on instances of some guest hosts getting paid, while your comment explains that they have to get paid, each and everyone of them, in compliance with union rules.
    – SQB
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 19:38
  • Having a full, fired-up audience brings great benefits to a talk or entertainment show. The revenue they get from ad revenue makes any audience admission inconsequential. On a side note, I'm sure if the guest hosts were not required to be paid, most of them would do it for free. It's a huge, sought-after profile and publicity enhancing honor to host. Anything that raises the profile and general public appeal of an entertainer translates into a higher price tag for their regular work. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 14:18

2 Answers 2



Curious About How Much SNL Hosts Get Paid?

So are we! Fortunately, frequent guest-host Justin Timberlake has loose lips. "It’s the best $5,000 you can make!", he told Entertainment Tonight, before adding "If I wouldn’t have been lucky enough to have the profession I have, I probably would have gone through Upright Citizens Brigade and tried to become a cast member on SNL."

WRT guest spots:

Alec Baldwin revealed that he gets paid just $1,400 for each appearance he makes as President-elect Donald Trump on "Saturday Night Live."


According to an interview Justin Timberlake gave to Entertainment Tonight, yes.

This was my third time to host and obviously I've done some appearances here and there when I'm in town... I really do adore the cast and the writers and everyone there. I mean it really is... there's no show on television in the world, not just America, that I can think of that is like SNL where you can really throw the kitchen sink, as far as being a performer, at people. And it's... you know... it's a great opportunity for an entertainer like myself to.. it's the best minimum... It's the best five grand you can make on television. It's awesome.

Wikipedia lists the base pay for cast members as $5,000 so it would seem guest hosts are paid as cast members.

By the late 1990s, new cast members received a salary between $5,000 and $5,500.

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