Rock Center   |  November 07, 2011

Tina Fey: '30 Rock' meets 'Rock Center'

Comedy icon, best-selling author and "30 Rock" creator Tina Fey joins Brian Williams in the "Rock Center" studio.

Share This:

This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Here are the basics: seven Emmy Awards ; three Golden Globes ; and most notably, to a lot of people, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington . Tina Fey of " 30 Rock " is here visiting ROCK CENTER , which made a lot of sense to us. And we welcome a woman commonly known as the preeminent woman in American comedy today. For the record, your forearms are nothing like they are -- that -- you have very feminine, normal forearms.

Ms. TINA FEY: As far as you know.

WILLIAMS: Tina , thank you for doing this.

Ms. FEY: Thank you for having me to your beautiful home.

WILLIAMS: Yes, it is a lovely home. And we should deal with the name issue.

Ms. FEY: Yes.

WILLIAMS: I want to be the first to say that, in naming this ROCK CENTER ...

Ms. FEY: Mm-hmm.

WILLIAMS: ...it was our intention to get the viewers who were looking for Tina , for Alec , for Tracy , to stop by, like what they see, but come to us entirely mistakenly.

Ms. FEY: That's not going to help you. I can tell you that right now.

WILLIAMS: And I hope -- they are similar. The graphic treatment.

Ms. FEY: The graphics are similar. And I 'll tell you, this is not a lie, when we were first starting the show, we wanted to call "30 Rock," we wanted to call it ROCK CENTER . That was our first choice, and we were told that we were not allowed to call it ROCK CENTER .

WILLIAMS: And we checked with your guys. You have guys.

Ms. FEY: I have guys.

WILLIAMS: Name people. And we had to -- we had to run all the traps and say would it be OK. And the answer came back...

Ms. FEY: That it was OK. I don't know what's happened.

WILLIAMS: Please.

Ms. FEY: Because we were told, no, no, the people who owned the building didn't want that. We also wanted to call the show -- I wanted to call the show "The Peacock," because I thought that would be kind of funny, and that Alec 's character would be kind of like a peacock. And we were told that it was a very serious and, you know, important symbol of a big, strong, important network and that we could not use it.

WILLIAMS: And thus...

Ms. FEY: And, yes, and my husband kept saying we should call the show " Two and a Half Men ."

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Ms. FEY: That was taken.

WILLIAMS: Which would have been fine.

Ms. FEY: Appropriate. Would have made sense.

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Ms. FEY: Me, Tracy and Alec .

WILLIAMS: Congratulations on the success of "30 Rock."

Ms. FEY: Oh, thank you.

WILLIAMS: It's just, just an insanely successful television show .

Ms. FEY: Well, we're filming season six right now. And we come back on the air in January, if, you know, if everything's still here. And...

WILLIAMS: And, yeah, it will be. I promise. Your family news is big, daughter Alice has a little sister named Penelope .

Ms. FEY: Yes.

WILLIAMS: You were kind enough to send us a birth announcement. And what I noted was, like when our kids were young, Alice 's smile cradling her little sister is lovely. There is a maniacal side of -- just a little bit of maniacal side in her smile. They all want to consume their little brother or sister secretly.

Ms. FEY: They do. They -- the first -- we spent the -- it's funny because we give a kid, six-year-old, you know, that's been an only child for six years and then you go literally overnight from they're the center of everything to you're just telling them, like, 'Back up, get off, get on, would you stop, get your face off her, stop touching her, don't put your hands on there, you're dirty, wash your hands.' Like you're just constantly yelling at them immediately. And she, yes, she does, likes to come in, like pick her up, 'Can I pick her' -- always asking after the fact. 'Can I pick her up?'

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Yeah. I have her in the room now.

Ms. FEY: Yeah.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. And you're working just as hard at home. And what are you seeing by way of media? What...

Ms. FEY: Nothing. I -- when you guys called and said, 'You want to come on and talk about the news?' I said, 'You guys tell Brian I am in -- my head is a diaper.' I don't -- I have not -- I don't know anything that's going on in the news. I know we're suppose to prepare for Hurricane Irene .

WILLIAMS: That's done. We're...

Ms. FEY: That was the last thing I saw.

WILLIAMS: That safety tip is what we're telling everyone.

Ms. FEY: And anything beyond that, I think -- I hear everything's going great, though.

WILLIAMS: It is. And especially in Greece , your homeland.

Ms. FEY: It's going great.

WILLIAMS: Really nicely done there.

Ms. FEY: Oh. I'm not taking the blame for that.

WILLIAMS: Well, I -- you're a Greek-American.

Ms. FEY: I am -- I am half German and half Greek. I am so furious at myself right now about all that's going on.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Well, give it some time, it will reach everywhere in Europe and in here.

Ms. FEY: So tired of bailing myself out.

WILLIAMS: When -- we'll take a break. When we come back, I want to know what life has been like...

Ms. FEY: Yeah.

WILLIAMS: ...at home watching the world go by.

Ms. FEY: OK.

WILLIAMS: If not media or contemporary news. We're back with Tina Fey right after this. And I also have a question about a quote I read in your book.

Ms. FEY: You didn't read it.

WILLIAMS: Oh, of course, I did.

WILLIAMS: We're back with Tina Fey . Here's the quote we mentioned before the break. "Egomaniacs of average intelligence or less often end up in the field of TV journalism.

Ms. FEY: Right.

WILLIAMS: Now what on earth would -- yes?

Ms. FEY: Hear me out.

WILLIAMS: Yep.

Ms. FEY: No. In the book I was talking about how you don't want to, you know, tell anything if you have anything serious or personal that happened to you. You don't necessarily want to talk about it in an interview because then it's fair game for every interview you do ever for the remainder of your short-lived career.

WILLIAMS: Right.

Ms. FEY: So, you know, it's mostly -- it's certainly not anyone here, not anyone at the beautiful NBC .

WILLIAMS: Of course, not anyone in the building.

Ms. FEY: But there is a certain -- I -- you know, if you ever -- have you ever done a red carpet ?

WILLIAMS: Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah.

Ms. FEY: It's that kind of great, red carpet journalism where they're like, you know, 'Why are you here and what are you wearing?' And then they'll just all of sudden like out of the blue , they're like, 'What are you wearing? Are you going to have fun tonight at the circus? Now what do you think about that guy in Arizona who killed all those girls?'

WILLIAMS: They do that.

Ms. FEY: They do that to you. Like...

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Ms. FEY: At one time, a lady said to me one time backstage at the Emmys , a pretty good one was, I think it was the year that we had actually won something at the Emmys , and she said to me, 'Now, Joan Didion wrote the book " The Year of Magical Thinking ," but what a magical year you've had.'

WILLIAMS: Oh, wow. That was the transition?

Ms. FEY: That was a pretty good transition, I thought.

WILLIAMS: Because your -- so much of your writing is Didionesque .

Ms. FEY: Yes. And that's such a happy book, " The Year of Magical Thinking ."

WILLIAMS: Right, it is. It wasn't a dark time.

Ms. FEY: It's about what a -- it's about what a great year. Anyway.

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Ms. FEY: Yeah. There was one time there was, 'Hey, how are you feeling tonight? Great. Now, Charlie Sheen went to rehab today. Do you have anything you want to say to Charlie ?' I'm going, 'I don't know Charlie Sheen .'

WILLIAMS: Great. Yeah, and you obviously would have tweeted a personal message if you had anything.

Ms. FEY: Sure. And then you feel like a jerk if you don't -- if you don't have well wishes for Charlie Sheen .

WILLIAMS: That's right . What have you been watching? You've been -- you have to have -- you're a child of television. You're one of us. You're a creature of the form.

Ms. FEY: I am. I mean, I've been in this weird like, you know, for -- I was on maternity leave for about like nine days, and so then I was...

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Ms. FEY: You watch different stuff because you're up nursing or something in the middle of the night , and you watch like "Extreme Couponing" and "Cake Boss." You know, you -- you know it's like your maternity leave's about to end and you're like, 'Oh, I've seen this "Cake Boss."'

WILLIAMS: Do you watch any " How_It 's_Made?" Do you watch any " Antiques Road Show "? Do you get into...

Ms. FEY: No. I saw "Storage Wars" once. I didn't quite get on board. I use to like the " Real Housewives " a lot, but I don't like it so much when they're fighting.

WILLIAMS: Which state do you -- Orange County or...

Ms. FEY: I only can only do New York and Beverly Hills .

WILLIAMS: Not Jersey?

Ms. FEY: Subhuman.

WILLIAMS: Oh, it's all about family?

Ms. FEY: Brian , you cannot be happy about how those people...

WILLIAMS: All about family.

Ms. FEY: " Fambigly ," as Rachel Dratch would say.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

Ms. FEY: 'You're my fambigly.'

WILLIAMS: All about family. It's all about family. That's all you need to know. But I find Jersey so far and away the best of the...

Ms. FEY: Oh, it's so rough. I...

WILLIAMS: Compared to the gentleness of Orange County , Atlanta ?

Ms. FEY: Orange County , I literally can't tell the women apart. I literally -- they look like a fire at a wax museum . I can't tell what I'm looking at. Orange County .

WILLIAMS: That's so nice...

Ms. FEY: So nice.

WILLIAMS: ...for them to be a fire at a wax museum .

Ms. FEY: Yeah. Well, what else? What else is going on?

WILLIAMS: Andy -- you're a fan of Andy Cohen .

Ms. FEY: Well, you know, I use -- I've done that show. I think it's like, you know, like this show. It reminds me of old-timey TV where you just go -- kind of go in. I mean, that you are -- you do get a little boozed up on that show.

WILLIAMS: Oh, no. Tap water here.

Ms. FEY: Yeah. But I do think -- I'm a little worried about he " Real Housewives " franchise. I don't need them to fight all the time.

WILLIAMS: Without that, they don't have television.

Ms. FEY: I just want to see their weird houses.

WILLIAMS: Thank you visiting us in ours.

Ms. FEY: This is very nice.

WILLIAMS: It was very kind of you, now that the kids are in bed. And our thanks to Tina Fey for visiting us here on the second ever ROCK CENTER .

Ms. FEY: OK.

WILLIAMS: You did very well, I think.