Sunday, November 23, 2008
As Saturday Night Live's first-ever female head writer, quick-witted comedian Tina Fey not only shattered the glass ceiling at SNL, but also succeeded in proving that she is one of the most talented comedy writers in the entertainment industry. The Upper Darby, PA, native quickly made her way to Chicago's famed Second City after finishing drama studies at the University of Virginia in 1992, maintaining her livelihood with a job at the local YMCA and rapidly excelling through Second City's exhausting course load. Advised by her instructor to skip forward to the more selective Second City Training Center, Fey took him up on his advice and, though rejected at first, she was eventually accepted into the fold. When Saturday Night Live came to Second City seeking some fresh new talent in 1995, Fey and friend Adam McKay stood out from the pack. It was McKay's prompting that eventually found Fey hired as a writer for the enduring sketch comedy series. In addition to opening the door for her entrance into SNL, her tenure at Second City also found Fey making the acquaintance of future husband Jeff Richmond, who served as director for the Chicago comedy troupe.
After joining the cast as a staff writer in 1997, Fey soon made history as SNL's first female writing supervisor two short years later. She was Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program three years in a row from 2001-2003, and her mark both behind the scenes and as one-half of the Weekend Update crew (opposite SNL favorite Jimmy Fallon) was unmistakable. When Fallon left SNL in 2004, Amy Poehler took over his position at the news desk, making her and Fey the first two-woman news team in Weekend Update history.
In the midst of her hectic schedule at Studio 8H, Fey somehow found time to perform the critically praised two-woman comedy show +Dratch and Fey in both Chicago (1999) and New York (2000). Fey's other work has included writing for such programs as the confrontational comedy series The Colin Quinn Show, shown on pay-cable mainstay Comedy Central. If fans had wondered when -- as all high-profile SNL cast members eventually do -- Fey would set her sights on feature films, their curiosity would soon be answered when it was announced that Fey would be writing and appearing in Mean Girls (2004), an adaptation of author Rosalind Wiseman's popular book -Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence. The film's combination of high-school realism and smart humor made it a hit with teens and adults alike.
As the 2004-2005 season of SNL drew to a close, Fey announced that she wouldn't be returning for the next season, but fans of the writer and comedian didn't stray too far. Her next project was the NBC comedy series 30 Rock which she both wrote and starred in as the head writer for a popular sketch comedy series. Based in part on her SNL experiences, the show eventually became a serious hit, fitting in perfectly with other NBC comedies like The Office. Fey and the producers were all nominated for numerous awards during the show's first season, including and co-star Alec Baldwin who won a Golden Globe for his performance as bigger-than-life network bigwig Jack Donaghy.
Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide