Palin power drives 'SNL'

Cameo gives series its best ratings in 14 years

The fake Sarah Palin has been doing great things for "Saturday Night Live," but the real one put NBC's sketch-comedy show over the top to its highest overnight ratings in 14 years.

Meanwhile, the Peacock's two-hour premiere of "Crusoe" offered up modest ratings in comparison.

"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 figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was the host and Aretha Franklin the musical guest. It also would be the third-highest-rated show of the week, including primetime, behind 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 offstage as Tina Fey portrayed Palin in front of the studio audience. Among other things, Palin tried to get Michaels to agree to her playing Fey on NBC's "30 Rock," which Michaels also executive produces. Palin eventually was introduced onstage by Alec Baldwin, another "30 Rock" star. Later, during "Weekend Update," Palin appeared on set with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler.

Also appearing on the show were host Josh Brolin, Oliver Stone and Mark Wahlberg.

On Friday, the action-adventure series "Crusoe" (7.3 million viewers, 1.6/5) put NBC in third place for the night with numbers that were below its time-period average last year. The program did gather ratings steam throughout its two hours.

James Hibberd in Los Angeles contributed to this report.