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By the Hammer of Thor: Talking About "30 Rock" with Tina Fey

I'm hopelessly obsessed with 30 Rock to the point that I want to, in the words of 30 Rock's Tracy Jordan, take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

So I was thrilled to catch up with the series' creator/writer/star Tina Fey about what to expect when 30 Rock returns to NBC with new episodes on April 10th... and what to expect when Liz Lemon is, er, expecting.

First off, Fey hopes the audience doesn't exhibit any angst or ill-will now that the strike is finally over. "Hopefully, people just want to see shows they love back on the air," she said. And don't look for the WGA strike to pop up on 30 Rock anytime soon. "[The strike] did not happen in their world... it was a big enough pain in real life."

Fey revealed that the writers had plans for a strike-themed episode in works before the real-life WGA strike that derailed production this season, a storyline which still may turn up "down the road" but won't be necessarily related to the events last fall. Regarding the strike, because the staff scattered all over the place during the work stoppage (many of them live in California), they haven't had time to do the typical post-strike, er, post mortem that most series had the opportunity to do. Fey and the writing team will have a chance to take a look back after those final five episodes are completed.

As for what the denizens of 30 Rockefeller will be up to when the series returns for five new episodes, look for Jack Donaghy to enlist Tracy to be the "new black face of the Republican Party," the surprise success of Jack's reality series MILF Island (previously mentioned in the episode "SeinfeldVision," which features "25 super-hot moms, 50 sweaty eighth grade boys, and no rules"), Frank playing Salieri to Tracy's Mozart, the return of several familiar faces including Will Arnett's Devon Banks, Dean Winters' Beeper King Dennis Duffy, and Jason Sudeikis' Floyd (who, come to think of it, never got a last name on the series).

The latter two turn up during an upcoming pregnancy scare for our beloved Liz Lemon, which Fey finds amusing as Liz "hooks up once every seven years." (A situation not helped by Fey's dislike for Liz Lemon romance storylines, which she begs the writers not to use.)

Comedy legend Tim Conway (The Carol Burnett Show) will turn up as a guest star early on in 30 Rock's new batch of episodes. (Fey believes it's the second one.) As for other guest stars planned, Fey said that the writers strike didn't derail any guest star gigs. "We're lucky," said Fey, "because [the planned] guests are still available."

So how about Fey's former SNL Weekend Update co-chair Amy Poehler stopping by on 30 Rock? Fey said that they tried to snag Poehler for a guest spot last season but the actress ended up being out of town during an SNL hiatus. Fey still hopes to get Poehler on 30 Rock in the future, but in the meantime you can catch them together in new film Baby Mama, out April 8th.

Fey said with the exception of Jerry Seinfeld--who approached them about being on 30 Rock--the writers always craft their characters and write them first, before making many overtures to guest stars. Fey feels that this is why their guest stars never feel gratuitous, because they come "organically from the characters and the stories." (Which leads me to wonder: what part was Poehler supposed to play?) Her dream stunt casting: Oprah. Fey still wants her to play Liz's best friend. (Um, fingers crossed?)

Don't expect Fey's recent Poster Girl status for the women of comedy (in the pages of Vanity Fair) to turn up on 30 Rock. "No, it won't be on the show," said Fey, laughing. "Liz Lemon never gets her hair done."

As for past television comedies that inspired Fey, she revealed a love for some of my favorite series as well, like The Larry Sanders Show, The Office ("[both the] British and the American versions"), Bob Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore, and The Carol Burnett Show. She also expressed her love for the Christopher Guest films. (Is she a woman after my own heart or what?)

And Fey is finally comfortable with playing and writing for Liz Lemon. "It's like I never fully stopped apologizing for being in the show," she said.

Seeing as 30 Rock has clicked with its obsessive fan base and critics alike, I think it's clear that Fey has absolutely nothing to apologize for.

30 Rock returns with new episodes starting April 10th on NBC.


Anonymous said…
i simply adore this woman. Love her!
The CineManiac said…
how do you score these amazing interviews, you lucky bastard!
Can't wait for this show to return, and thanks again for making me watch it to begin with.
Oprah as Liz's best friend would be HILARIOUS. For now, though, I'm thrilled that Will Arnett will be returning. (And The Floydster.)

God I've missed this show.
Anonymous said…
I am no Oprah fan, but her as LL's BFF? awesome.

Anyone who mentions Larry Sanders is aces in my book.

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