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New Obama actor; Sudeikis stays put
“Saturday Night Live” has elected a new Barack Obama: Jay Pharoah will take over the plum role of impersonating the president.
“SNL” creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels announced the casting switch in an interview with the New York Times posted Wednesday. Michaels said it was time “to shake it up.”
Veteran cast member Fred Armisen has played Obama since 2008. Pharoah joined the show in 2010.
Michaels also said that Jason Sudeikis will remain with the show at least until January, and will continue to play Obama’s Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.
“Saturday Night Live” actor Kenan Thompson, left, stands on set with this week’s host, Seth MacFarlane.

MacFarlane tackles ‘SNL’

‘Family Guy’ boss kicks off 38th season

– You might think Seth MacFarlane has a show-biz bucket list.

By now, he’s checked off ventures such as his animated TV shows (led by “Family Guy”), his recording of show tunes, live performances at Carnegie Hall and this summer’s film comedy, “Ted,” which he directed, wrote and provided the title character’s voice for.

Now MacFarlane will serve as guest host this week for the season premiere of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Was this just the next gig on his to-do list?

“Not exactly,” MacFarlane said Tuesday. “When things come up, I tackle them if they sound fun. That’s how I decide what to do and what not to do. It’s what sounds like it’s going to be a good time.”

But there’s another reason he was reporting to Studio 8H.

“They asked me,” he explained. “It’s the kind of thing you don’t say ‘no’ to if you’re in comedy.”

For a multimedia comedy impresario, MacFarlane might not seem ideally suited to “SNL,” where he is being treated warmly, but not in his customary role as the boss.

“It’s always a nice break to not be the guy in charge,” he insisted. And with his edition of “SNL” being polished off in just a week, the routine should prove a refreshing change, too. “It’s the complete antithesis of the nine months it takes us to do one episode of an animated series.”

While MacFarlane arrived Monday with a few sketch ideas, “this is a large writing staff that’s well equipped to do what they do,” he pointed out. “I sat in on a pitch where writers threw out a bunch of one-line sketch ideas, and there were a lot of hilarious ones. There’s no shortage of fresh stuff.”

But along with comedy, will the silver-throated MacFarlane sing a song?

“Possibly,” he said. “But it’s too soon to tell.”

As the series begins its 38th season (Saturday at 11:30 p.m.), MacFarlane will be sharing the bill with musical guest Frank Ocean. Meanwhile, Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson and Cecily Strong will be joining the troupe as featured players.

But absent from the scene will be Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Abby Elliott.

Not a problem, said MacFarlane from his insider’s perspective.

“The coming and going of cast members is something the show has rolled with for decades,” he noted, “so I think they’re pretty well disposed to deal with that. They seem pretty excited to get started with a new group.”

Looking beyond Saturday, MacFarlane said future projects he’d like to do include another film and even maybe an on-camera acting role.

“We’ll see if this weekend is a disaster or not,” he hedged. “But I do like trying things I haven’t tried before. It kind of gets the blood going.”

But what about the threat of a butterflies attack when airtime gets here Saturday?

MacFarlane laughed, then cracked, “Aren’t there drugs that can get rid of the butterflies these days?”