The monologue, by guest host and Olympic swimming champ Michael Phelps, was to have been built around Obama and would have included an additional cameo by action star Chuck Norris. But Norris, too, canceled because of the hurricane, and William Shatner was enlisted as his replacement. Shatner was already en route from Los Angeles via chartered airplane when Obama dropped out; the monologue was reworked so that it would still include a Shatner cameo. "It was great of him to do it," Michaels said of Shatner. Michaels said Obama was to have returned briefly for a second appearance, during the "Weekend Update" segment, but that was obviously scuttled, too. ..."His people called and said they felt they had to shut it down because of the storm," meaning Hurricane Ike, Michaels said yesterday by phone from New York. "I pleaded with them to wait and make the decision on Saturday morning, but they felt they had to do it then. There was a sensitivity to how it would be perceived — whether he would be criticized for doing it while disaster struck." Did he make the right decision? "It was certainly the wrong decision for me," Michaels said. "Do I think there's an oversensitivity in this area? Yes." But Michaels said he would be happy to have Obama appear on a future show, provided a good sketch can be devised. "It was an enormous disappointment," Michaels said, "but they were very pleasant about it — 'Please have us back again' and all that."
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