By Alan Duke, CNN
(CNN) — Lindsay Lohan returned to center stage this weekend, but her jail time, rehab stints, drunk-driving and shoplifting convictions followed her as she hosted NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
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Lohan’s movie career resumes soon, as well. She’ll portray film legend Elizabeth Taylor in the Lifetime movie “Liz & Dick,” which starts production in Vancouver, Canada, at the start of May, according to a source familiar with her plans.
The legal troubles that derailed her acting career for much of the past five years became material for jokes as Lohan hosted SNL for a fourth time.
Most of the show avoided references to her criminal history. Skits included Lohan as “Rapunzel” in a fictional “The Real Housewives of Disney,” and as “Illiterate Lisa,” a Minnesota morning radio show sidekick.
But one skit and her opening monologue centered on Lohan’s bad-girl reputation.
“I feel lucky and grateful to be here tonight, and that’s why I really want to thank all of my friends at SNL who trusted me enough to have me back,” Lohan said at the start of her monologue.
But an alarm sounded and red lights flashed as she stepped toward the audience.
“Wait, so the alarm goes off if I leave the stage?” she said. “I thought it was only if I left the studio. I thought you guys trusted me.”
SNL cast member Kenan Thompson then joined her onstage, telling her “how beautiful your eyes are.”
“Can I see your eyes, please?” Thompson said, before using a flashlight to peer into her eyes as if he was a cop during a drunk-driving stop.
“She’s good,” he said, walking off stage.
“You know, I do get the feeling that everybody thinks I’m going to screw something up,” Lohan said.
“No, no, look at me,” cast member Kristen Wiig told Lohan. “Everybody here believes in you, everyone. We wouldn’t have you back, otherwise.”
While Lohan gave her a hug, Wiig patted her down.
“Kristen, are you searching me?” Lohan asked.
“No, I’m a lesbian now,” Wiig said.
“Been there, done that,” said Lohan, who once carried on a much-publicized romance with a female friend.
“She’s clean, she’s clean,” Wiig said.
“Maybe it was too soon to come back,” said Lohan, as former SNL star Jimmy Fallon popped onto the stage.
“This is the return of Lindsay Lohan,” Fallon said. “The new old Lindsay Lohan is back.”
But Fallon, too, played on Lohan’s history of failing to show up for court, community service work and interviews.
“Everybody makes mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shake them off, you can do this,” Fallon said. “And if for any reason you can’t, Jon Hamm’s on standby as back-up host.”
The camera then focused on the “Mad Men” star sitting on the front row. “No, Lindsay, I’m sure you’re going to be great,” Hamm said, while winking to Fallon.
Lohan played herself as a “scared straight” counselor in a skit with Thompson that included several jokes about the hazards of jail rape and Lohan and Thompson screaming at three young men arrested for stealing bicycles.
“It starts with bike jacking and guess where it ends,” Thompson asked them.
“You’re in Malibu at rehab!” Lohan said.
Lohan has checked into rehab programs several times over the past five years, including a court-ordered visit that ended just over a year ago.
“First you hang out with all the mean girls and then you get accused of stealing a diamond necklace,” she said.
She was arrested on a necklace theft charge just weeks after she was released from the Betty Ford Clinic last January, resulting in an extension of the probation she was already serving for two drunken driving convictions in 2007.
The 25-year-old actress, however, appears just weeks away from completing her community service work at the Los Angeles County morgue. Once done, her probation restrictions will be lifted and Lohan can restart her career.