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SNL debuts with big ratings

NBC's Saturday Night Live, with New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani delivering a serious opening monologue, showed a major ratings jump over last year's season premiere.

SNL scored a 7.6 rating, 18 share in Nielsen overnight numbers, representing a 24% increase over last season's premiere installment. NBC estimates 17.8 million viewers watched at least a portion of the late-night sketch comedy show, which featured a shtick with Darrell Hammond as Rev. Jesse Jackson trying to place a phone call to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In an uncharacteristically sober opening for NBC's irreverent comedy show, Mayor Giuliani, flanked by New York City police and firemen, said, in part, "We will not yield to terrorism. We will not let our decisions by made out of fear." Paul Simon followed that with a performance of "The Boxer". - Richard Tedesco