Hard to believe that her turn as Sarah Palin would thrust Tina Fey into the stratosphere. I mean when your grandma knows who Tina Fey is then it’s safe to say she’s gone nuclear. Anyway, the timing couldn’t be any better for two profiles of her this week.
Maureen Dowd profiles her in Vanity Fair: “Elizabeth Stamatina Fey started as a writer and performer with a bad short haircut in Chicago improv. Then she retreated backstage at S.N.L., wore a ski hat, and gained weight writing sharp, funny jokes and eating junk food. Then she lost 30 pounds, fixed her hair, put on a pair of hot-teacher glasses, and made her name throwing lightning-bolt zingers on “Weekend Update.” Speeding through the comedy galaxy, she wrote the hit Mean Girls and created her own show based on an S.N.L.-type show: 30 Rock. The comedy struggled in the ratings for two years but was a critical success, winning seven Emmys last fall and catapulting Fey into red-hot territory. Before she even had a chance to take a breath, a freakish twist of fate turned her from red- to white-hot, and enabled her, at long last, to boost the ratings of 30 Rock: Fey was a ringer for another hot-teacher-in-glasses, Sarah Palin, the comely but woefully unprepared Alaska governor, who bounded out of the woods with her own special language to become not only the first Republican woman to run on a national ticket but also God’s gift to comedy and journalism. So where does Fey go from white-hot?” There are also interesting takes on her marriage, family and work ethic. Good read all around.
And there is the other side, in which she gets taken down by The New Yorker’s Nancy Franklin: “Fey has surrounded herself with a cast [on 30 Rock] that has one spectacular member [Alec Baldwin] and a couple of really good ones, but that averages out to only fair. Her own performance falls into the not-so-great category. It may be that in her effort to keep the show from being a star vehicle—such things have a tendency to crash—she is too generous; although she’s onscreen a lot and is game to do anything for a laugh, I sense that part of her is keeping her distance from the fray. Jerry Seinfeld appeared to do the same thing on his show—make way for his fellow-performers—but then I found him cold, too.” Yowzas.