Four Days From Relaunch, SNL Still Has No Obama

If ti's Wednesday, that means that the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live are halfway through a frantic, round-the-clock week of prep for this Saturday's return to the airwaves, the first of four straight shows meant to catch SNL up after three and a half months derailed by the writers' strike. As we wrote earlier this week, this week's show is an important one for SNL, catching it up on the conversation and, hopefully, returning it to the forefront in an extraordinary, history-making primary season.

As of this writing, though, there's one thing missing: SNL has still not found anyone to play Barack Obama. When we asked on Monday, a show representative was noncommittal; late yesterday, we were told that no decision would be made about an Obama character until sometime tomorrow — two days before the show. According to USA Today, SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels has been auditioning people both from the cast as well as outside contenders, with some challenges. Back in the fall, castmember Kenan Thompson had been rumored to be attempting to shed pounds for the part, but that never translated to the screen. (Thmopson is one of two cast members of color — the other is Maya Rudolph, has previously played a skinny black male character, "Time-Traveling Scott Joplin"). Michaels told USA Today that finding the right person to play Obama has been a particular challenge: "Finding a way to get people to laugh at him is complicated right now." (This was not a problem for the actual Obama, who made a graceful and well-received guest appearance on last show before the strike, yelling out the show's signature opening line, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"

SNL returns to air on Saturday, Feb. 23rd with host (and alum) Tina Fey and musical guest Carrie Underwood, plus potential cameos that we predicted earlier this week.