'SNL' Preps 'Emotional' Premiere

Saturday Night Live returns this week, but given the current political climate, you probably won't see Will Ferrell doing his dim-witted impression of President Bush.

Following somber returns by comedy purveyors David Letterman, Jay Leno and Jon Stewart, the long-running live show is also reassessing its usual comedy arsenal.

Executive producer Lorne Michaels said the comedy show's 27th season premiere will acknowledge the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks "in an emotional way, because that's the appropriate way."

Michaels told The Associated Press, "All we can do is focus on getting a show on Saturday that addresses what happened with respect and dignity and, at the same time, do a comedy show that allows people some kind of relief."

Scrambling to Schedule Hosts

Some SNL staff members were forced out of their New York City apartments because of the attacks, and the show had to evacuate briefly from its Rockefeller Center studio, Michaels told the AP.

None of the cast members wanted to talk to the press about what it's like to prepare for a show in this atmosphere.

Reese Witherspoon, star of this summer's comedy hit, Legally Blonde, is the guest host. Alicia Keys is the musical guest.

Michaels had to revamp the schedule when the Oct. 6 guest host, Ben Stiller, backed out in the aftermath of the attack. The third-week host, Seann William Scott (American Pie 2; Dude, Where's My Car), was moved up a week, and Drew Barrymore agreed to fill in Oct. 13.

Michaels says that putting on the show has "gotten a little easier each day. Last week at this time it seemed impossible."