Last year, people had a hard time telling 30 Rock apart from Studio 60 from the Sunset Strip. Now 30 Rock is one of the most anticipated returning shows of the fall. Jerry Seinfeld is going to guest star on the season premiere, and rumors of a green themed Thursday night are flying. Tina Fey, the creator and star of 30 Rock, previewed the upcoming season at NBC’s annual summer press event.
CraveOnline: Who is responsible for weekly Star Wars joke or reference?
Tina Fey: Well, it started happening organically last year that we realized we had a Star Wars reference in almost every show. Then it became a thing where we tried to keep it going. I don’t think we got every single show but we have a pretty high batting average.
CraveOnline: Is there one key geek who does all that stuff?
Tina Fey: Robert Carlock, one of our EPs, is usually the resident expert. I can chime in a little bit but I’m not quite as good of a Star Wars wonk as he is.
CraveOnline: Can we expect Jack Donaghy to be leaving any angry voice mails this year?
Tina Fey: No, sir.
CraveOnline: Wouldn’t Alec Baldwin have a sense of humor about that?
Tina Fey: I think he does but I think maybe if he hosts SNL, maybe that’s a more appropriate place for that.
CraveOnline: What stories are you looking forward to this year?
Tina Fey: We’ve been working on a bunch of things. We’re talking about, I’d like to get Jenna into rehab. Maybe she just wants to go to rehab as a career boost. Tracy’s wife is probably going to kick him out for a reason that has yet to be determined. We also talked about maybe Jenna coming back having put on a lot of weight over the summer hiatus and her having to go to Dr. Spaceman who may or may not tell her to start smoking. I’ve really been on the movie set. The writers have barrels of things that I haven’t seen yet. Maybe a story about Jack trying to get us to do a USO show.
CraveOnline: Are there any production difficulties working around Tracy Morgan’s ankle bracelet?
Tina Fey: I haven’t, he’s not back yet but I hope he still has it when he comes back. That actually could be pretty funny. I was going to write a storyline where a judge makes him wear a thing around his neck to detect crazy thoughts. I gotta find out more. I don’t know how those ankle bracelets work. Does it shock you? If you drink alcohol, does a bell ring somewhere? Or do they come check it like a water meter?
CraveOnline: Have you spoken with your Mean Girls lead, Lindsay Lohan, since she’s had her ankle bracelet and further issues?
Tina Fey: I think she talked about in Vanity Fair the fact that Lorne [Michaels] and I had a conversation with her at one point but having seen the show Intervention, I know it was short of an Intervention. I would see her when she would come to SNL and then I saw her that brief time we did the movie but I don’t talk to her on a day to day basis or anything.
CraveOnline: When it’s your job to make fun of headlines, then your friend are in the headlines, how do you deal with it?
Tina Fey: Well thankfully it’s not my job anymore to do Weekend Update because then you do have to decide, like "Oh, we have this joke." I mean even just with people that had hosted the show, you have a joke about them, you go, "You know what?" As soon as you meet someone and they become a human being to you, it’s much harder to make jokes about them.
CraveOnline: If you’d known last year that only one "behind-the-scenes of a sketch comedy show" show would survive, what chance would you think you had?
Tina Fey: 100%. I have a nasty SNL competitive streak in me so I’m going to say 150 percent but just because I like healthy competition.
CraveOnline: How much of Liz Lemon is based on you?
Tina Fey: It’s sort of based on me and all of the lady writers that worked at SNL when I first stared there. The biggest difference is that my character is not married, and also apparently her jugs are bigger.
CraveOnline: How does Liz have bigger jugs than you?
Tina Fey: Yeah, see, this is the real deal and then I think they just put me in a bigger padded bra. That’s how we get that whopping 2.4 rating.
CraveOnline: How do you feel about that?
Tina Fey: I’m fine with it. Clearly I’m complicit.
CraveOnline: Is Jerry Seinfeld a friend of yours?
Tina Fey: I met him once or twice. He hosted SNL. He’s a really nice guy but he’s not doing this because he’s a friend. He’s definitely more of a professional acquaintance so it’s really nice of him to do it. We’re very flattered. When we got the news, the call came from Ben [Silverman]‘s office that he said he would do our show and we were very flattered.
CraveOnline: Is that the ultimate stunt casting?
Tina Fey: Well, we could not be more excited to have Jerry Seinfeld on the show because hopefully then regular America might actually find out that we have a show and watch it maybe at least that one time. Also, he’s super funny so that fell into our lap. He sort of volunteered to come on and that’s all going to be great. Then we had a lot of guest actors last year but I really liked them all because they really sort of suited the roles. It never felt like stunt casting to me and hopefully we can kind of keep that going if you have Isabella Rossellini or Paul Reubens who are just people that happen to fit that role right at that time.
CraveOnline: Was the C word episode based on experience?
Tina Fey: It was a little bit. It was a little bit based on the experience of having someone call you that and not knowing how to deal with it.
CraveOnline: Will Jack and Liz ever get together?
Tina Fey: I don’t think so. I think Alec had said before, "We should have a pact that none of the characters on the show can sleep with each other" because I do think then if it’s characters who are in that core family, then you get stuck in this Sam and Diane kind of thing of that playing out. Also, in our writers room we describe that relationship as striving for either Mary Tyler Moore/Lou Grant or Princess Leia/Han Solo.
CraveOnline: How about Liz and Tracy?
Tina Fey: Liz and Tracy? It’s going to be revealed this year that they have been sleeping together the whole time. No, they will never get together.
CraveOnline: Maybe Kenneth and Cerie?
Tina Fey: They got close last year, right?
CraveOnline: How’s your summer going?
Tina Fey: I worked on a movie this summer with my friend Amy Poehler and just about finishing that now and then I’ve got to hurry up and get back to the writer’s room. It’s been work filled. Just work and baby. Just playing with my daughter. Very busy, she’ll be two in September.
CraveOnline: When was the last time you saw your baby?
Tina Fey: Yesterday at dinner time. I took a late flight here last night.
CraveOnline: How much of a commitment has NBC given you?
Tina Fey: 22.
CraveOnline: Will you get a bigger budget?
Tina Fey: No, I think our budget’s already pretty high.
CraveOnline: What are the biggest obstacle in keeping the quality high?
Tina Fey: I think our biggest thing is we have to write as many episodes as we can before I start shooting because once I leave the writer’s room, I can never get back in there. So we’re going to definitely try to do that. We had good luck with that last year. That’s probably it, just to stay ahead of the writing because single camera shooting is so intense.
CraveOnline: Are you saying you are the one most responsible for the high quality of the show?
Tina Fey: No, but I will say that I’m always going to have an opinion about it. Especially in terms of what would Liz do, what would she not do? They can only get so far before me chiming in and moving stuff around.
CraveOnline: It seems like your show.
Tina Fey: Yeah, I mean, ultimately, it’s like yeah. I’m the boss.
CraveOnline: Were you in production when Alec’s news happened?
Tina Fey: No, no. We were out. We were wrapped, I was on vacation, we were all away.
CraveOnline: Is it true there’s going to be a night of Green themed shows? Is that a cause you’re involved in?
Tina Fey: Yeah, I think I could probably do a lot more. It is such a big, important topic and also in terms of shows doing a theme, I think it’s interesting. I’d be happy to be given an assignment to break a story because I come from an improv background and you usually take an audience suggestion and then improvise, so I’d love to have an audience suggestion to work from.
CraveOnline: What do you do personally for the environment?
Tina Fey: I do drive a hybrid. I got that Lexus hybrid but I hear it’s not the most hybrid-y. And we drive it like once every six months so we save energy that way. We recycle but I think we’ve got to do more. There’s more to be done.