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Marianne Paskowski



Should ‘SNL’ Bring Back Tina Fey?

September 17, 2008 10:55 AM

Tina Fey

Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Tina Fey, who now has her own hit show in NBC’s “30 Rock,” returned to her roots last Saturday, outshining all other cast members with her spot-on portrayal of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

So much so that “SNL,” now in its 34th year on the air, had its largest season premiere ratings since 2001.

Clearly the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska—who ever heard of that place?—has captured the attention of the American public.

A day doesn’t go by here when I don’t get at least five e-mails about her, and her bespectacled face is everywhere. You would think she’s running for president instead of John McCain, and in a sense she is, being just a heartbeat away from the top job should the GOP win this election.

“SLN” executive producer Lorne Michaels has said he’s trying to find a way to bring back Fey, even though she’s busy with her “30 Rock” day job. He’s also said there are two other “SNL” cast members who could portray Palin.

I don’t think so—do you?

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Comments (29)

Jason:

Hey M,
First off. 30 Rock is not a hit. It isn't even close to a hit. NBC props it up as a hit, but it isn't and it isn't even close to being funny enough to be a hit. That said, I could care less whether or not this woman, who I find to be about half the actress Julia Louise Dreyful is, comes back to the show, but SNL needs something, especially with Amy Poehler leaving too. I just watched a Deal or No Deal skit on SNL on hulu.com. It was atrocious. I mean perhaps one of the worst SNL skits I've ever seen. The show is a has been and has been that way since way before Tina Fey ever got involved.
Fey is a talented actress, but it was more funny in the fact that she looks like Palin than anything else.
Take care,
Jason

Marianne Paskowski:

Jason,

I never watch 30 Rock, but you have to admit Tina Fey, did a great job with her Palin takeoff. Michaels has got to find a way to keep Fey at least until the Election. And if the GOP wins, after.

Palin a gun toting, anti-pro-choice pol has everyone talking. SNL needs the water cooler buz. Fey could provide that. What a great coincidence she bears a resemblance to this nut job from Alaska.

Thanks for your post,
M

Arthur Greenwald:

Marianne,

I DO watch 30 Rock and it's hilarious. Some of the scripts are miniature gems. This is a show that will be funny many years from now, too. As creator/actress/executive producer of 30 Rock, Tina Fey has my permanent respect and admiration.

That said, while her impersonation of Sarah Palin was dead-on, and the physical ressemblence a big asset, let's not short change Amy Pohler's portrayal of Hillary's Clinton's smoldering anger. I'd argue that it was Pohler, even more than Fey, who made that sketch pay off. The razor-sharp writing, too, (said to be that of cast member Seth Meyers) deserves major praise.

If Fey is simply not available, Lorne Michaels does indeed have a first-rate substitute: the versatile Kristin Wiig. She could nail that character on a moment's notice.

I agree that many of SNL's sketches are lame. But the good parts are still great entertainment.

Arthur

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Arthur,

SNL's Amy Pohler did not steal the show, Tina Fey did, I think. Sarah Palin is a polarizing politician, especially among women. We don't know squat about her.

I expect Lorne Michaels will make hay out of this political disaster, and keep us entertained as we all watch our 401k's and IRA's evaporate.

If I were writing the next script for SNL, I would definitely hone in on what happened on Wall Street this week, and the lame responses from the GOP.

m

Yes...bring back Tina Fey for Sarah Palin impersonations (personally I believe the maybe/maybe not stance is a publicity stunt and she will be back to play Palin). But bring her back for only Palin and fun appearances (5-7/year) as they present themselves.

The bigger issue, and Amy Poehler is just about the last straw in the talent exodus, is that the show requires a massive infusion of new thinking and talent. Throw out the 70s format and start again. There's better comedy on web tv only shows. Hire some of those writers/talent...but for 5-7 appearances a year. Do we really need a permanent cast? Why not a revolving one?

And, like the Fey appearance, get the word of mouth out there in the traditional press and the blogosphere.

Yes...bring back Tina Fey for Sarah Palin impersonations (personally I believe the maybe/maybe not stance is a publicity stunt and she will be back to play Palin). But bring her back for only Palin and fun appearances (5-7/year) as they present themselves.

The bigger issue, and Amy Poehler is just about the last straw in the talent exodus, is that the show requires a massive infusion of new thinking and talent. Throw out the 70s format and start again. There's better comedy on web tv only shows. Hire some of those writers/talent...but for 5-7 appearances a year. Do we really need a permanent cast? Why not a revolving one?

And, like the Fey appearance, get the word of mouth out there in the traditional press and the blogosphere.

Marianne Paskowski:

Scott,

This publicity stunt worked and got us talking about SNL again. I seldom watch SNL, but I will again, if Fey does Sarah short time, at least I hope that's what it turns out to be. I don't want Sarah a heartbeat away from running/ruining this country.

Thanks for your post,
M

joe:

First off - Jason. It depends on how you define a "hit". If it's ratings, then you are correct. 30 Rock does average ratings. If you are talking awards, then it surely is a hit.
That aside, the question we should be asking is would Tina Fey come back to SNL? Of course they would love to have her back permanently, but it's up to her. I read an interview with her about a year ago saying how less stressful making 30 Rock is compared to creating an entitre 1 1/2 hour show in 5-6 days. Especially, with her (at the time) newborn baby.
However, you can't go from having Tina Fey playing Palin to someone else. That just wouldn't work because she did an amazing job.

Marianne Paskowski:

Joe,
Totally agree, expectations are so high now because Tina Fey captured Sarah Palin, to her core.

Meanwhile, Michaels has to find a way to do this, hopefully, short term.

The next question is can the fourth place network, get this right? And I don't mean politically, I mean business wise. Probably not.

Thanks for your post, not sure which Joe you are, there are three Joes up here!

m

eric:

of course, tina fey will be back. the political precedent has already been set and lorne michaels is just playing the suspense game. i dont think she will be on every episode, but she is in the same building. nbc will use her on both snl and the thursday night snl political specials to sell to viewers to keep ratings up and promote 30 rock as well. the liz lemon/jack donaghy storyline with fey and jeff zucker just might be truer than we know. besides amy poehler will be gone soon also. the only bad part is that the first two minutes saturday night was the only funny part of the entire 90 minute show.

Marianne Paskowski:

Eric,

Wait a minute. Tina is doing her show from LA. SNL is live in New York, so there are some logistical snags.

Not unsurmountable.

Good post, thanx, and totally agree, after Tina, the show was a snore. I know, I was up cleaning, after a dinner party, had it on it on in the background, when I was mopping up after a faucet leak, of all things.
M

David Handelman:

OK! with all that is said, the only answer that I can come up with is to have Tina Fey run for Vice President, if not President. She certainly is better than good ol Sara Palin.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi David,

Funny, but no way Jose. Personally, I would rather see any of the crew from CNBC's "Fast Money" run for the veep spot on the GOP ticket.

Do Republicans have a sense of humor? Haven't seen it yet, or any financial solutions from them for the future of this country.

Thanks for dropping by David, come back again, sometimes it gets stupid or nutty up here, but this is what people are talking about as they watch TV.And a lot of good ideas get floated up here, unfortunately not yours:)
M

Jeff Mulligan:

Marianne --

Not claiming any particular prescience here, but I've long waited for Tina Fey to play Sarah Palin, who in turn looks like a Fey impersonator. Political satire is the cream of SNL, so NBC should do what it surely can to keep Fey at "30 Rock"--she's a real talent who deserves that august Emmy-winning showcase--and also get her to cameo on SNL pol skits.
Bringing Tina back to a full cast member role on SNL wouldn't be fair to her.

Jeff


Marianne Paskowski:

Jeff,

I wasn't saying full time for Tina at SNL, just through the election.

As for "30 Rock," I don't watch, don't know, viewers love it or hate it according to the above posts.

Always good to hear from you, m

Cruiser:

Yo, Blondie --

One of your readers already suggested Kristen Wiig. Great suggestion, an amazingly talented hot babe who'd make a better veep in real life than Sarah herself.

While they're at it, keep Amy Poehler as Hillary, but drop Fred Armisen as the Obama stand-in. Good comedic actor, but not Obama. Get the Obama stand-in Jay Leno occasionally uses. I can't remember his name, but he's good; he's got the Obama speaking idiosyncracies down pat.

Cruisin not Bruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Cruiser,
The role will not going to Kristen, given the hype of the week.
M

Don Wolf:

Seems to me that Fey as Palin is the hottest thing lately in a show long lackluster and clinging to life. In recent years, I've been bored or worse watching what have seemed to be increasingly jejune skits on SNL. Where oh where, I would ask, were the great days of yore in the 1970s when Belushi, Ackroyd, Curtin, Chase, Radner et.al. held sway and mesmerized audiences.

Back then, of course, the SNL formula was revolutionary. That's not to say the talents weren't great: they were and (among those still alive) still are. But we only had three broadcast networks back then, cable TV was barely out of CATV mode, Comedy Central was still in the future, and we all watched TV without the competition of the Internet, video games, etc. Nonetheless I always thought SNL was a much sharper product back then.

... until George Carlin died and NBC aired the first SNL show, which Carlin guest emceed. I was sort of shocked to see, back then, the same sophomoric humor and half-baked skit lines as now plague the show. Sure, the first SNL cast honed its considerable skills in time. But let's not put selective memories on some pedestal.

It's time for a major SNL redo.

Wolfie

Marianne Paskowski:

Don,
I would hope Michaels, etal, are watching what I'm watching on his sister net CNBC. The crisis demands SNL scrutiny, or at least some humor to make us feel better.

Thanks for reminding us about George Carlin, totally forgot. Wonder what he would have to say about the mess the Bushies got us into this week.

M

Dr. Foster K. Williamson, PhD:

Dear Ms. Paskowski:

At the Institute, we have been carefully examining coincident correlations between television entertainment shows and presidential race developments. Admittedly, it's sometimes hard to devise discriminant models between the two; the politics have become as insipid as the TV programming.

But we've pressed on, fascinated by the opportunity to run classic F coefficient tests on real politicians and the Saturday Night Live players lampooning them. Fortunately, we have Kronsky's algorithm to guide our analysis. (Kronsky regressed the underground poll fear indices of his compatriot Russians with Joseph Stalin's speeches. Sadly, it was his last published paper.)

We plan to send a full, complementary report to Lorne Michaels with Kronsky indices for each of the show's cast members, particularly the political satirists. Here, we'll only reveal one statistic about one actress, Tina Fey's Palin portrayal. We regret to say that if Ms. Fey appears in that role again, and Ms. Palin is elected, Mr. Michaels risks an extended visit to what will become the Kronsky Memorial Rehabilitation Unit at Guantanamo Naval Base. You can't fight the numbers.

Doc Willy

Marianne Paskowski:

Doc,

Can't wait to see any of these bozos on SNL tackle credit default swaps.

Again, have no idea what you're talking about, but...
m

Arthur Greenwald:

Marianne,

I don't think anyone else wrote to correct you on this but 30 ROCK is NOT shot in LA -- it's filmed entirely in NYC at Silvercup Studios, home of the Sopranos, Sex and the City, and now the Fox drama Fringe, too.

But it wouldn't matter if 30 ROCK were shot inside 30 Rock itself -- starring in, writing and exec producing a sitcom takes every waking hour, even if you're not trying to raise a preschooler.

In other words, Tina Fey's recent American Express commercial where she famously "can't do everything" is not far from the truth.

Arthur

Lorne's right. Kenan would make a great Palin.

Marianne Paskowski:

Thanks Arthur, I stand corrected, and Nat, maybe we'll soon see if Kenan gets the role.

Marianne Paskowski:

Thanks Arthur, I stand corrected, and Nat, maybe we'll soon see if Kenan gets the role.

Chi-town Mike:

I'm a fan of Tina and her work, and her now Emmy award winning status. Besides being a great writer, she was amazing doing Weekend update and was just as much of a natural doing that segment just like Dennis Miller used to be. I think Tina should call Darrel Hammond (who did a better Bill Clinton than Bill Clinton himself) and realize how lucky she would be to fall into a role where she could naturally do the part.

Marianne Paskowski:

Would be great if she could make some SNL appearances, especially during this economic meltdown. Would love to see that this weekend.
m

JAS:

Hi Marianne,

I'm convinced that the first call that went out after Palin was announced was that of Lorne Michaels to Tina Fey saying "hey, babe, you owe me...I need you back." Let's hope she only has to do this up until the election...if Palin's a factor after that it won't be SNL fodder, but rather, a serious tragedy!

JAS

Marianne Paskowski:

JAS,

Palin's interview with Couric was an eyeopener, and you are spot on with your comments,
M

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