A front page story in the New York Times today looks at the anxiety-inducing process that went into creating the presidential debate sketch on Saturday Night Live this weekend.

The final script was delivered to the actors just six hours before the show on Saturday:

“This was the toughest assignment I’ve ever had on one of these,” [SNL writer Jim Downey] said later. By late Friday evening, the performers — Jay Pharoah as Mr. Obama, and Jason Sudeikis as Mitt Romney — were able to do a partial run-through so that directors and producers could at least work on the staging.

[SNL creator Lorne] Michaels, with a still unfinished sketch on his hands, was toying with opening the show with an MSNBC sketch, even though chronologically it would have happened after the debate. Mr. Meyers and the co-head writer Colin Jost stood in front of a run-through of the MSNBC sketch during dress rehearsal, taking notes. Before the live show, an entire character, Ed Schultz, played by Bobby Moynihan, had been cut, and a new joke for Chris Matthews about Mr. Obama needing a Mike Tyson face tattoo for the next debate had been added.

[New York Times]