Palin helps 'SNL' to best ratings in 14 years

Only 'Dancing,' 'CSI' scored higher last week

NEW YORK -- The fake Sarah Palin has been doing great things for "Saturday Night Live," but the real one put "SNL" over the top to its highest overnight ratings in 14 years.

"SNL" -- with Palin as a guest -- averaged a 10.7 rating/24 share in the 56 metered markets, according to preliminary estimates released Sunday by Nielsen Media Research. It would be the highest-rated "SNL" since March 12, 1994, when Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan was the host and Aretha Franklin the musical guest. "SNL" would also be the third-highest-rated show of all last week, including primetime, following only ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" (12.0/18) and CBS' "CSI" (11.2/17).

Saturday's program featured an opening with the real Palin speaking to executive producer Lorne Michaels while Tina Fey portrayed Palin in front of the studio audience. Among other things, Palin tried to get Michaels to agree to let her play Fey on "30 Rock," on which Michaels is an executive producer. But Michaels declined, saying that nobody watches "30 Rock." She was introduced to Alec Baldwin, another "30 Rock" star. Later during "Weekend Update," Palin appeared on the set with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler.

Also on the show was host Josh Brolin, "W." director Oliver Stone and actor Mark Wahlberg.

Saturday's show was up 161% compared with the average last October (4.1/10). It's also up 47% compared with the Oct. 4 "SNL" that averaged a 7.3/18.