Good Sport

updated 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

Clad in a dowdy neon-blue suit, Saturday Night Live comic Will Ferrell always got guffaws for his often rude but precise impersonation of Attorney General Janet Reno–even from Reno herself. In fact, she had long toyed with the idea of going on the program. "She's got a great sense of humor," says Myron Marlin, former public affairs director for the Justice Department. So a week before her gig in office ended, Reno asked Marlin to approach the show's producers about doing a cameo. After her staff rejected three scripts, she okayed the one used on Jan. 20. The only hitch: She had thrown out the suit on which Ferrell's costume was based. No problem. "[SNL] made her a new one," says Marlin.

During the dress rehearsal, when Reno broke through a wall to confront Ferrell, 33, only to wind up dancing with him, the studio audience did a collective double take. "It was fun," says Reno, 62, who also aced the live performance. "I think people saw it as, I had an ability to laugh at myself and laugh at the world."

Now back home in Miami after her controversial eight-year D.C. term, Reno is planning to crisscross the country in her red pickup before settling on another day job. How about acting? "Her phone is ringing off the hook," reports Marlin, "and friends are saying, 'This is the greatest thing you've ever done.'"

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