10/01/2004 AT 3:00 PM ET
SATURDAY, OCT. 2: Veteran Saturday Night Live host Ben Affleck returns for a third time to helm the show’s 30th season premiere. The actor last hit the comedy’s Rockefeller Center stage amid the post-Bennifer fallout earlier this year, but this time expect a possible reference to the new Jennifer in his life – Garner, that is. Affleck stepped in to take over hosting duties when another prominent Democrat, former President Bill Clinton, turned down the gig. Joining Affleck is rapper Nelly, who’ll perform songs from his chart-topping new albums, Sweat and Suit.
MONDAY, OCT. 4: Movie and music stars will come together to defend civil liberties at the ACLU Freedom Concert at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City’s Lincoln Center. Sean Penn, Robin Williams and Jake Gyllenhaal will be on hand to do spoken-word pieces while Mos Def and Paul Simon are among the musical performers. “History has shown us that a little censorship, wiretapping, unlawful detention and deporting all lead to the radical dissolution of our freedoms,” composer and producer of the event Philip Glass said in a statement. Among the highlights of the evening is a tribute to late comedian Lenny Bruce, a poster boy of the free speech movement.
TUESDAY, OCT. 5: President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry got the ball rolling, and now it’s time for their running mates, Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Edwards, to face off in a debate. The Veep hopefuls will argue their points at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University. Then, on Oct. 8, Bush and Kerry will go head-to-head again in a town-hall-style meeting at Washington University in St. Louis, followed by a final debate Oct. 13 at Arizona State University in Tempe.
THURSDAY, OCT. 7: Bill O’Reilly will come face-to-face with an audience of “stoned slackers” when he visits Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. The FOX pundit sarcastically baited Stewart during his appearance on The O’Reilly Factor last month, pointing out that the fake news anchor could actually influence the presidential election when “you’ve got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night, and they can vote.” Actually, said Nielsen Media Research, Comedy Central’s Daily Show viewers are more likely to have completed four years of college than O’Reilly’s no-spin-zone fans.
FRIDAY, OCT. 8: Emcee Jamie Foxx and a host of A-list music stars – including Usher, Mary J. Blige, Norah Jones, Elton John, Reba McEntire and Stevie Wonder – will pay tribute to the life and music of Ray Charles at Los Angeles’s Staples Center. Foxx is the man for the job: He’ll portray the R&B legend (who died June 10 at the age of 73 of complications from liver disease) in the biopic Ray. The concert, titled Genius: A Night for Ray Charles, will air on CBS on Oct. 22, a week before Ray hits theaters.