Besides being the co-anchor of “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live and the show’s head writer, she is also the screenwriter for the new film Mean Girls. USA Today has a nice feature on her:
- Sure, the Saturday Night Live head writer and “Weekend Update” co-host is known for her scathing wit, deadpan social commentary and diatribes about terrorist alerts, society’s pressures to have a baby and Playboy honcho Hugh Hefner’s identical girlfriends. True, in her spare time, the recreational artist rips photos out of celebrity tabloid the National Enquirer and re-draws the stars, inserting dialogue bubbles with jokes too dirty to print in this newspaper. And yes, she skewers backstabbing, conniving high schoolers in her first screenplay, Mean Girls, which opens April 30.
But beneath that sardonic little grin and behind those signature black-rimmed glasses, Fey, 33, is a soft-spoken, introverted pussycat who bakes cakes and sews pillows. Seriously.
Just ask her husband of nearly three years, SNL musical director Jeff Richmond.
“Her persona is so caustic, but she’s very shy, and she doesn’t like confrontation,” he says.
But she sure unleashes her anger in Mean Girls, a comedy that seems determined to prove that teens are heavyweight champions in girl-on-girl cruelty. The movie’s catty Cruella De Vil is Regina George (Rachel McAdams), a girl who rules her school and her chic clique, the Plastics, and corrupts sweetly clueless new student Cady (Lindsay Lohan).
Regina is an “amalgam of girls I was intimidated by in high school,” says Fey, who has a key role in the film as a misunderstood math teacher. She inserted unsavory aspects of herself into Regina as well: “If I don’t like someone, I don’t want my friends to like them either. It’s a dark part of me that Regina has.”
Though her movie paints a stark portrait of school as a bloody battlefield, Fey fondly looks back on her years at Pennsylvania’s Upper Darby High School.
“My high school experience was a lot like my life right now, in that I was constantly overextended; I always had a paper due,” she says. “I was very studious and obedient and in a lot of activities. I did the choir, the drama club, I was on the school paper, I played tennis. I definitely don’t look back on it as a horrible time. I’ve always thought that if I hadn’t ended up doing this, I would have been a teacher.”
Instead, she has become one of SNL’s breakout stars. Fey’s fans rave about her on the Internet and call her late night’s It Girl. They love her glasses, which imbue her with a smart-girl sexiness but in fact serve a practical purpose: they help her read the cue cards on “Update.” And they gossip about the origins of the mysterious scar on the left side of her face. Fey won’t say how she got it except to mention that it happened during her childhood.
….Yet, despite her status as SNL superbabe, Fey doesn’t hog the spotlight or make herself the center of attention. On a recent Friday afternoon at the show’s midtown set, Fey is the pensive observer, standing aside and overseeing a Good Times spoof skit she wrote for guest host Janet Jackson. Unlike a Robin Williams, who is always “on,” or a dead-serious Steve Martin, Fey is mutedly funny, delivering zingers and one-liners under her breath, almost to herself. She likes the new pink jacket she’s wearing, she says, save for the fact that with it on, she “should be working at a day spa” and doing bikini waxes.
And chances are, Fey would have been the best waxer in the biz. SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, who hired Fey in ’97 and promoted her to the show’s first female head writer two years later, calls her “disciplined and focused. If she says she’ll do something, she does it. There’s no laziness in her.”
She honed her comedy skills with Chicago’s vaunted Second City improv group, which she joined in 1994 (the same year she met her future husband) after graduating from the University of Virginia. In Chicago, she became tight with future SNLers Rachel Dratch and Poehler.
“The first day I met her, I knew she would be a huge success,” Poehler says. “She’s really funny, really smart, very sarcastic, very hard on herself, very hardworking, very silly and very shy. She’s grade-A hot meat.”
….What she loves about the late-night show is its tight-knit camaraderie: “People aren’t in it to be stars. These guys are more interested in making good sketches than being the most famous.”
It took Fey two years to finish Mean Girls, and she wants to write more movie scripts. Plus, she has a sitcom development deal with NBC.
Tina rocks. The Mean Girls site is here.