Tina Fey signing off SNL

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LOS ANGELES--Tina Fey has left the building. Well, mostly.

The head writer of venerable NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live won't be back when the show returns this fall, she told the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California. The "Weekend Update" coanchor is ramping up her own prime-time sitcom at NBC, the SNL parody 30 Rock.

She hinted that, although she won't officially be a part of SNL, she'll still be around.

"I know I will never, ever not be [at SNL] in some way. I'm never not going to call up with an opinion or show up on hiatus wanting to write a sketch," she said Saturday. "But I will not be in the cast, and I won't be a paid employee of Saturday Night Live next year.”

Fellow SNL and 30 Rock castmate Rachel Dratch is also leaving the show with Fey. 30 Rock premieres October 11.

The announcement ended months of speculation as to what Fey's role on SNL would be once her new show premiered. It also echoed statements made last week by NBC president Kevin Reilly, who said there would be a "tightening" of the cast.

It is unknown whether or not SNL cast member Seth Meyers will remain co-head writer, but show executive producer Lorne Michaels said no one has been hired yet to replace Fey on "Update." The process of finding a replacement will begin in September.

Michaels expressed sadness and resolve at Fey's departure.

"Am I happy about it? No. But it was time for Tina to do her own show," he said.

Fey was her typical sardonic self when discussing her reasons for leaving.

"I wanted to stop doing Saturday Night Live so I could spend more time with Star Jones," she quipped to laughter.

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