According to Lorne Michaels, every single surviving host and musical guest, as well as all cast members and writers who worked on the show for more than one year, received an invitation to participate in the 40th anniversary - special - except for O.J. Simpson.
Eddie Murphy appeared on this televised special, and it was his first time back at Saturday Night Live in just over 30 years. The last time he appeared in Studio 8H, let alone on Saturday Night Live, was when he hosted the show on December 15, 1984.
According to Norm MacDonald, Eddie Murphy was asked to play Bill Cosby in the "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketch. But Murphy refused because he did not want to make fun of the controversy surrounding sexual abuse allegations against Cosby. Kenan Thompson played Cosby in the sketch. Cosby released a statement thanking Murphy for not doing the sketch.
In the "Californians" sketch, there is a line about a relative being trapped in a hot air balloon. Taren Killem starred in the Amanda Show's show-within-a-show, Moody's Point, in which Moody (Amanda Bynes) has not seen her mom in years because she has been trapped in a hot air balloon.
Martin Short makes a point about having hosted the show "just once", like Robert Blake. He actually hosted thrice. Together with Steve Martin and Chevy Chase in 1986 and on his own in 1996 and 2012.
Eddie Murphy publicly claimed he avoided other SNL reunions due to a joke David Spade made about him on a Weekend Update segment in the 90's. However, Murphy himself made similar joke about previous cast member Garrett Morris during a Weekend Update segment in the 80's.
In the "Weekend Update" segment of the show, anchor Jane Curtin quipped that 11 movies based on Saturday Night Live (1975) sketches were made (as of 2015), which is equivalent to 22 thumbs down. In reality, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, on both Sneak Previews (1975) and later At the Movies (1986), gave The Blues Brothers (1980), Wayne's World (1992), Wayne's World 2 (1993), and Stuart Saves His Family (1995) two thumbs up. They actually gave Coneheads (1993), Blues Brothers 2000 (1998), and A Night at the Roxbury (1998) two thumbs down, and did not review It's Pat: The Movie (1994). Following Siskel's death, Ebert wrote unfavorable reviews of Superstar (1999) and The Ladies Man (2000), and never reviewed MacGruber (2010).
Features a wide range of former and current stars of the show, including regular cast members, guest stars, sports icons, and musicians. (Some producers, writers, or other back stage "creators" were also.mentioned or featured.) Those making appearances included Candice Bergen, Paul Simon, John Goodman, Sarah Palin, Betty White, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Lorne Michaels, and many more. Jon Lovitz (alive and well) was also there.
Although Leslie Jones claimed the Lorne Michaels couldn't stop laughing at her audition, many past SNL cast members have said that Michaels discourages laughter during auditions. Bill Hader claimed in an interview that Michaels actually had him removed from an audition because he couldn't stop laughing.
Dakota Johnson is the only participant that didn't appear on SNL prior to this show.
The digital short "That's When You Break," sung by Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg, features special nods to Bill Hader, Jimmy Fallon, and Horatio Sanz, with Hader briefly appearing to sing a few verses. Hader, Fallon, and Sanz are some of the most notorious "breakers," or actors who break character to laugh at the jokes. Also featured in the short was Chris Parnell as the drummer, who was known for very rarely breaking character during his time at SNL.
Lorne Michaels requested that Dan Akyroyd reprise the "Bass-O-Matic" sketch, while Mike Myers and Dana Carvey requested that they be allowed to reprise "Wayne's World."
Sketches were written specifically to combine characters and cast members of various SNL generations, such as "Celebrity Jeopardy" and the musical medley.
As of 2017, this special has only been shown one time on television, and has not been released in any other form of media. Clips on YouTube of the sketches have been released by the official SNL YouTube channel.
Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler's joke that "we made a movie that bombed" refers to their 2012 comedy "That's My Boy," which notoriously did terrible at the box office.