Parting will be such hilarious sorrow for the fans of Tina Fey and her comic crew as 30 Rock caps its seven-year run with the Last Lunch finale this Friday.
For her part, however, Fey is both frazzled and absolutely fine with saying goodbye. “I feel good. [But] I’m really tired,” Fey said a few months back during the final production run of her critically acclaimed sitcom that first aired in 2006. “I think the last run of shooting is going to be such a bear that it’s going to almost make it easier for us to say goodbye – because we have to all go to bed. We’re working 14-, 15-, 16-hour days here trying to shoot everything that we need.”
Expect the finale – with inter-connected storylines set in the present and future – to cleverly sew up the improbable destinies of the hapless variety-show producer Liz Lemon (Fey); the self-absorbed meddling network boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin); the emotionally needy star Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan); the vain actress Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski); and Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), the overeager, endearing NBC page.
“Liz and Jack? In 20 years, yes, they’ll still be friends,” predicts Fey. “I think they’ll both have lifetime memberships to the Bronx Botanical Garden, where they meet once a month to read the newspaper in silence. Or maybe that’s just my fantasy of what I want to do in 20 years.”
Adds Baldwin: “I pitched ideas to them of how I wanted it to end. One idea was that I died – finally had this gigantic heart attack from all my failed ambitions – and my ghost talks to Lemon at the end.”
While the super-achiever Fey played against type as an oft-befuddled sad sack on 30 Rock, she proved herself a trailblazer these past seven seasons. She mastered the art of nipping the network hand that fed her, mocking much of what NBC holds sacred – and winning the -outstanding Comedy Series Emmy three times.
“When we first did the pilot for 30 Rock, I was coming from Saturday Night Live and I couldn’t believe how much work it was just to film one pilot episode,” says Fey. “I sort of was like: ‘Oh no!’ If I had to do it all again, if I knew how much work we were going to do, I don’t think I could do it again.”
Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times put Fey’s accomplishments in perspective: “There have been plenty of female comedy writers before she came along – Diane English [Murphy Brown] and Linda -Bloodworth-Thomason [Designing Women], to name but two, as well as other notable performers who created their own characters and carried their own comedy shows such as Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Tracey Ullman and Roseanne Barr. But before Fey, there were no women on network TV who created and wrote their own shows and starred in them.”
What more is there to say about the show’s creator, writer and star Fey? The first female head writer for Saturday Night Live, she is also the youngest winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour (2010), the best-selling author of Bossypants and the Golden Globes co-hostess extraordinaire (with her gal pal Amy Poehler) and the not-quite-yet-a-movie-star whose most recent silver-screen outing, Admission, went a bit soft at the box office.
One can easily say that, at 42, this Type-A lady gives every indication that she remains the master of her destiny – and her best performances are yet to come. Stay tuned.
Catch the series finale of 30 Rock on OSN Comedy HD at 8pm on Friday
* the guests
30 Rock famously charmed A-listers from showbiz, politics and elsewhere who wanted to be on the show. Some of the folks who appeared on the show – and some of whom you may see in Friday’s finale – include Jennifer Aniston, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Matthew Broderick, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Edie Falco, Carrie Fisher, Al Gore, Jon Hamm, Salma Hayek, Patti LuPone, Megan Mullally, Julianne Moore, Andy Richter, Condoleezza Rice, David Schwimmer, Jerry Seinfeld, Elaine Stritch and Oprah Winfrey
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