Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin is a ratings magnet.

The Republican vice-presidential candidate’s appearance last weekend on “Saturday Night Live” generated record ratings for the long-running show.

And while “Saturday Night Live” executive producer Lorne Michaels, like most Hollywood heavyweights, doesn’t agree with Palin’s pro-life and religion-friendly brand of politics, Michaels admitted following her appearance that he was impressed by her intelligence, humor and grace under pressure.

In this interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michaels said, “I think Palin will continue to be underestimated for a while. I watched the way she connected with people, and she’s powerful. Her politics aren’t my politics. But you can see that she’s a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she’s had a huge impact. People connect to her.”

One of Hollywood’s most politically active actors, Alec Baldwin, appeared in one of Palin’s two skits on the show.

And despite his own Democratic political leanings, Baldwin also praised Palin’s “Saturday Night Live” performance.

“When you come on a show like that, you are prepared in advance to get worked over,” Baldwin said in an article on the Huffington Post blog. “Palin knew that. Palin came on to be a good sport. And she was. She was polite, gracious. (More so than some of the famous actors who come through there, believe me.)”

In his interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michaels applauded the Alaska governor’s capacity to rise to the occasion following her surprising selection in late August as John McCain’s running mate.

“Literally six weeks ago she was in another world,” Michaels noted. “I think there’s a lot of sympathy for anybody who can step forward and handle that level of pressure. That thing on a human level was fascinating to watch.

“She was characterized so quickly by the media,” added Michaels. “She got a really tough welcome. So when she introduced herself that way at the convention, people went, oh, I see. She gave a great performance.”

— Tom McFeely