By JAKE COYLE
AP Entertainment Writer
The video, posted Wednesday, stars Fred Armisen as President Barack Obama. During the night he is visited by the ghosts of presidents past, who urge him to push for financial reform.
Will Ferrell reprises his President George W. Bush, Darrell Hammond plays President Bill Clinton, Dana Carvey returns as President George H.W. Bush, Dan Aykroyd plays President Jimmy Carter and Chevy Chase returns as President Gerald Ford.
Jim Carrey, the lone comedian not a veteran of “SNL,” appears as Ronald Reagan. The ‘SNL’ player who typically played Reagan on the show was Phil Hartman, who died in 1998. (Maya Rudolph, another former ‘SNL’ cast member, also plays Michelle Obama.)
The video was directed by Ron Howard, who previously worked with Funny Or Die for a popular video that brought him back to his days with ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and ‘Happy Days’ to support Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Wednesday’s video was also created with a political motive – made in association with Americans for Financial Reform, a pro-regulation coalition of labor and consumer activists.
“All it’s meant to do is capture the attention, present a question and stimulate some thought,” Howard said in a phone interview.
It was written by ‘The Simpsons‘ writer Al Jean and Adam McKay, the film director who co-founded FunnyOrDie.com with Ferrell and who was a writer for ‘Saturday Night Live’ from 1995-2001.
It’s believed to be the first time all the major presidential impersonators from ‘SNL’ who are still alive were reunited for a sketch.
“It was a blast,” said Howard. “There was a lot of experimentation, a lot of ad-libbing.”
He added: “I actually felt like now I understand a little bit when you get to manage or coach an all-star game.”
Howard said he suggested doing a video with McKay after speaking about financial reform with the composer Hans Zimmer and the filmmaker James L. Brooks. He then spoke to McKay, who came up with the premise.
Days after that conversation, on Sunday, the video was shot over 15 hours in Van Nuys, Calif., where several of the performers traveled to for the unlikely reunion. Armisen had to hurry, having appeared on ‘Saturday Night Live’ the previous night.
Within hours of being posted, several hundred thousand people had watched the video.
In a video on the making of the sketch, Carvey said of the group of comics: “Accidentally, we influenced the flow of history in North America.”