The comic force barrels into the movies, still out of breath from her “30 Rock” victory lap. But has she paid the price of “Admission"?
By Jere Hester ••
The seven seasons of the often manic-paced "30 Rock" flew by faster than a Jack Donaghy one-liner (“There are no bad ideas, Lemon – only great ideas that go horribly wrong”). But in the less than two months since the sitcom's finale, Tina Fey seemingly has been moving at an even faster clip than her TV creation, with the chaotic unpredictability of a “30 Rock” cutaway gag.
Fey posed for a glamour spread for Time magazine's Style & Design issue, while striking a somewhat more demure pose on the cover of Ladies Home Journal. She found herself unexpectedly slammed by Taylor Swift over a Golden Globes crack and reportedly got into an uncharacteristically foul-mouthed dust up with a paparazzo. She took herself out of the running for hosting next year's Oscars – and for running "Saturday Night Live," should her mentor Lorne Michaels ever step down.
Now Fey, whose “30 Rock” victory lap feels more like a never-ending sprint, is headed for Friday's release of her first post-sitcom movie: “Admission,” a romantic comedy, albeit one whose motherhood theme bodes more serious overtones than the usual rom-com fluff.
For someone whose career is at a crossroads, Fey isn’t bothering to pause – even if she’s charging into some largely uncharted territory.
Sure, she co-starred in a couple fine movie comedies – “Baby Mama” and “Date Night” – while playing Liz Lemon on “30 Rock.” But “Admission” carries a potentially higher price: As Fey moves toward films after a career dominated by 15-plus years as a top TV comedy writer and performer, she’s saddled with the dual blessing/curse of being both a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and ex-sitcom star.
The long lineup of ex-“SNL” stars who tried to crack the movie business runs the gamut from big successes (Eddie Murphy) to big failures (Rob Schneider) to both (Murphy).
Fey, at this point, probably is more associated with her primetime comedy show. At 42, she’s slightly older than Mary Tyler Moore was at the end of her classic 1970s ensemble sitcom – a clear “30 Rock” inspiration. Moore scored some film success – primarily for her image-smashing, Oscar-nominated turn as a cold mom in “Ordinary People” – but hasn’t approached anything close to her greatest TV triumph.
Fey probably is looking more closely at the post-“Office” career of her “Date Night” co-star Steve Carell, whose “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is the latest in a string of decidedly non-blockbuster flicks he’s made since leaving the relative security of “The Office” two years ago.
Carell’s departure from his NBC sitcom seemed to attract more attention than his subsequent movie efforts. Fey’s current “Admission”-related media blitz, meanwhile, underscores the relative lack of hoopla surrounding the end of “30 Rock,” even if the show was more of a critical and dedicated fan favorite than a ratings hit.
Give Fey credit: she’s clearly not afraid to try new things (a turn in the latest Muppet movie is next on tap). And like Liz Lemon, she keeps moving without a break, even for some night cheese.
Taking a page from the Jack Donaghy book of wisdom, Fey’s churning out great ideas – and fortunately for her, and for fans, nothing’s gone horribly wrong yet. As Fey reaches for movie stardom, check out a clip from “Admission”: