Emmy Award winner Tina Fey writes, executive produces, and stars as Liz Lemon, head writer of fictional sketch show The Girlie Show, in NBC's new workplace sitcom 30 Rock. Fey should know the landscape--she spent eight years on NBC's late-night sketch show Saturday Night Live, hosting Weekend Update to acclaim and rising to the position of head writer.
30 Rock, debuting Wednesday, October 11, at 8:00 p.m., stars Fey, frequent SNL host Alec Baldwin, ex SNL cast members Tracy Morgan and Rachel Dratch, and former Ally McBeal star Jane Krakowski. In a conference call this week, Fey and Krakowski talked about the show.
Fey said she always hoped Baldwin would want to play the part of ridiculous network head Jack Donaghy.
"I wrote the part with Alec in mind, but I never dreamed we would be able to get him," the comedienne gushed. "I have seen him be very, very funny when he hosted SNL over the years, so I knew he had that comedy in him."
She said that the focus of the show won't be about the sketches on The Girlie Show, but about what happens when they are wrapped.
"We're not really going to see the sketches. We're going to see the lives of the people after the show and their daily routines," she said. "Sort of like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the way they didn't show much of the news...We should be so lucky to be anything like Mary Tyler Moore!"
Originally, fellow SNL jokester Dratch was slated to star as Girlie Show star Jenna DeCarlo. NBC wanted some changes in the pilot, and Krakowski was cast in the role.
"Once we rewrote the show and realized we wouldn't be seeing many sketches, we realized we wanted to take Rachel--who is so good as a sketch player--and use her differently," Fey explained. "She's still in the show, and she'll play a series of different characters."
"The role has been quite rewritten since the original pilot, I would say," Krakowski said. "I love the show so much, and I am thrilled to be added to the cast."
The Mean Girls writer says she isn't too worried about NBC's other show about behind-the-scenes at a SNL-type sketch show, Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip.
"It's funny, because when Studio 60 was announced, I had friends coming up to me saying, 'I'm sorry you won't be able to do the show,'" she remembered. "Then, [NBC president] Kevin Reilly called me and said he still had faith in both of the shows, and we were still going ahead."
Fey says she is too busy to dwell on Studio 60.
"We are shooting five days a week and writing seven days a week. There is no chance to worry about it."