In Depth

Women in Television: Tina Fey

Who: Tina Fey, writer, executive producer and star of NBC’s “30 Rock”

Women in TV

Why: In the history of TV, brilliant women like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore have defined their eras. In this first decade of the 21st century, the woman who has emerged in that role is Tina Fey. After nine years as head writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live,” she created a show for herself, “30 Rock.” The NBC half-hour has won back-to-back comedy series Emmys in its first two seasons.

As if that weren’t reason enough to honor Ms. Fey, with the emergence of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee this year, Ms. Fey’s spot-on impression of the politician has been historic. Indeed, pundits claim it was Ms. Fey who shaped public opinion of the little-known politician.

What: “Yeah, it’s tough being smart and sexy, too,” she’s said jokingly of herself, but her success is no joke. Being funny is serious business and Ms. Fey has always aimed for a career in comedy. Her role model and idol is Catherine O’Hara of SCTV, and she’s inspired by movies like the Marx Brothers classics, “Monty Python” and Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein.”

“I remember me and one other girl in my eighth-grade class got to do an independent study because we finished the regular material early, and she chose to do hers on communism and I chose to do mine on comedy. We kept bumping into each other at the card catalog. The only book I could find was Joe Franklin’s Encyclopedia of Comedians, which stopped in the ’50s, so I read up on guys like Joe E. Brown,” she told Interview in 2006.