NEW YORK • A murderer's row of Saturday Night Live cast members and guest performers turned out for the show's cold opening over the weekend, playing United States President Donald Trump and the people in his orbit engulfed by the controversy surrounding a payment made to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels.
The star-studded sketch ended with a surprise pay-off of its own: an appearance by the real-life Daniels, who traded a few barbs with Alec Baldwin's incarnation of Mr Trump.
The episode (hosted by comedian-singer Donald Glover) began with Ben Stiller reprising his role as Mr Michael Cohen, Mr Trump's personal lawyer, as he placed a pay phone call to the president.
Responding to Stiller's concern that his explanation for the payment to Daniels keeps changing, Baldwin said it was time to call upon the services of Rudy Giuliani (portrayed by the ever-versatile Kate McKinnon) because, he said, "he's got the sharpest legal mind since My Cousin Vinny".
But first, Stiller placed an accidental call to Dr Harold N. Bornstein, Trump's personal physician, played by Martin Short.
Meanwhile, Baldwin was engaged with another call from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by Aidy Bryant.
"Mr President, I have lost all credibility," she said. "Did you lie to me about the Stormy Daniels affair?"
Baldwin said: "Yeah, that sounds like something I would do."
Bryant answered cheerfully: "Okay, good, just as long as we're on the same page."
Stiller took further calls from First Lady Melania Trump (Cecily Strong); former Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault Newman (Leslie Jones); Vice-President Mike Pence (Beck Bennett); as well as Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump (Scarlett Johansson) and her squeaky-voiced husband Jared Kushner (Jimmy Fallon).
Finally, Baldwin instructed Stiller to "call Stormy Daniels and fix this once and for all".
Here, Daniels made her unexpected cameo, warning Baldwin: "I know you don't believe in climate change, but a storm's a-coming, baby."