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October 18, 2008

Sarah Palin sets 'SNL' ratings record

Sarah Palin's visit to "Saturday Night Live" drew the show's highest overnight rating in 14 years.

Last night's telecast, hosted by Josh Brolin and featuring musical guest Adele, averaged a 10.7 rating and 24 share in 56 metered markets, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's the highest overnight 'SNL' average  since a 1994 episode that was hosted by Nancy Kerrigan and featured musical guest Aretha Franklin.

Saturday's program also included appearances by Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, Oliver Stone and -- once again reprising her role as Palin -- Tina Fey. But it was the much-anticipated visit by the real Alaska governor that gave the show its biggest overnight rating in more than a decade. The numbers also make "SNL" the third-highest-rated show of last week, after ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and CBS' "CSI."

'SNL' has successfully capitalized on viewer interest in the election this season. The veteran sketch comedy show's ratings are running 76% higher than during the opening weeks last fall.

Clips of Palin's two sketches, below.

Clip 1: "And now I'd like to entertain everybody with some fancy pageant walkin'..."

Clip 2: Palin dances behind the Weekend Update desk...

SNL had a tricky task here: make good use of Fey, make good use of Palin, keep the sketches funny, yet stay within the boundaries of what Palin's camp will find acceptable. Given how much SNL has mocked the vp candidate in recent weeks, the moment when Fey and Palin pass each other on stage was about as tense as when two candidates shake hands before a debate.

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