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Aided by intense interest in Thursday's vice-presidential debate, NBC's "Saturday Night Live's" ratings jumped 23 percent over last week as former head writer Tina Fey once again portrayed vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC.)
Saturday's show was hosted by Anne Hathaway, whose new film, "Rachel Getting Married," opened on Friday. Hathaway has been in the news lately because her former boyfriend, Italian businessman Raffaello Follieri, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy charges.
But the real attraction of Saturday's show was likely Fey's return as Palin, with special guest star Queen Latifah playing debate moderator Gwen Ifill.
The telecast averaged a 7.4 rating, 18 share in metered-market households, up 42 percent versus last season's fourth episode. "Saturday Night Live" started its season two weeks early this year hoping to capitalize on intense interest in the presidential election.
In "SNL's" debate spoof, both candidates, as well as Ifill, came in for their share of parody.
Queen Latifah's Ifill repeatedly hawked her upcoming book on politics and race.
Biden, played by Jason Sudeikis, made repeated references to his hardscrabble Scranton, Pa. roots as well as his supposed fondness for McCain.
But it was Fey's portrayal of Palin that took center stage.
The skit satirized the Alaska governor's accent, dropping of the letter "g" at the end of words, repeated use of the word "maverick" to describe both herself and McCain, and her beauty-pageant past.
There was also a reference made to her teenage daughter Bristol's pregnancy. When asked about her thoughts on gay marriage, Fey's Palin responded, "I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers."
Although NBC has not confirmed it, Fey is widely expected to return as Palin weekly at least until the election.