On Monday evening one of the biz's most fabulous funnywomen, Tina Fey, was honored by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg with a Made in New York award, honoring those who have made significant contributions to the Big Apple's entertainment industry. Besides making her TV comedy 30 Rock, as well as her upcoming movie with SNL gal pal Amy Poehler, here in the city, Fey makes us laugh, and a lot. We relished the chance to talk to her about New York City's "special something," the future of 30 Rock (including Alec Baldwin's place in it) and a certain headline-making celebutante.
TVGuide.com: I love and have been a real champion of 30 Rock. In fact, I feel about three percent responsible for its Season 2 pickup.
Tina Fey: Well, I appreciate that!
TVGuide.com: This Made in New York award is the next best thing to getting a key to the city, eh?
Fey: [Admiring the hefty-looking, subway token-esque award] It's pretty cool! I'm pretty excited about it!
TVGuide.com: Do you feel like "Local girl does right by big city"?
Fey: There are definitely moments where I look around and see the size of our crew and I feel very proud to be a part of creating jobs for that many people. We have such an awesome and lovely crew, it's great to know they have a place to work because of our nonsense.
TVGuide.com: What about shooting in New York is most impossible to re-create when shooting somewhere else?
Fey: A couple of things. One, you can point the camera anywhere and it's automatically interesting-looking; it's a beautiful city. Also, you get a really excellent pool of actors in New York, very different from L.A. Every person playing a two-line part is a stage-trained actor. It's pretty amazing.
TVGuide.com: What do you consider TV's worst affront to simulating New York City? Seinfeld's clean, sunbaked "Upper West Side" sidewalks?
Fey: No, Seinfeld is pretty realistic, I think. Friends is pretty insane, the apartment size and all.... Friends might be the most egregious.
TVGuide.com: Conversely, is it true that some cities will pay you to not shoot them as Cleveland?
Fey: [Laughs] I've never heard that! [For 30 Rock] we shot Battery Park City as Cleveland, so... make of that what you will. We used stock footage for the landmarks.
TVGuide.com: On a scale of 1 to 10, how did 30 Rock's first season net out for you, as executive producer?
Fey: Oh, gosh.... In terms of our expectations, I would say it was a 9 or a 10. We were just so happy that we survived it and that so many people saw it.
TVGuide.com: What do you see as areas for improvement?
Fey: I'd like to find a way to do less. [Laughs] I feel like each show was so jam-packed and we were shooting so many pages. Hopefully we'll find an easier pace.
TVGuide.com: In my 30 Rock blog, I would comment that the laughs-per-page ratio was off the charts....
Fey: Thank you! We'll try to keep that high. We'll try to keep that high.
TVGuide.com: What's more important to you, the funny or the story?
Fey: Well, the funny is more important, obviously, but I feel like our chance of survival will only be helped if we can get our story and our characters real enough that people care about them. If people don't care about the characters, they won't stick around.
TVGuide.com: Is 30 Rock the show that's casting a mystical 17th-century Japanese princess? Or is that Heroes?
Fey: That's Heroes. [Laughs] But you never know!
TVGuide.com: Will what happened with Alec Baldwin a few months ago, what he said on The View [expressing a desire to leave 30 Rock], affect his screen time this coming season?
Fey: I don't think so. I think it's all going to be fine.
TVGuide.com: Have we seen the last of Jason Sudeikis [as Liz Lemon's beau]?
Fey: I don't know. We really have left it very open-ended, and obviously the great thing is that Jason is in town, doing SNL, so... I honestly don't know. Hopefully we'll see him again somehow.
TVGuide.com: And SNL's Amy Poehler, she's your "ace in the hole" to trot out at sweeps or perhaps save for Season 3?
Fey: I hope so! I'm actually shooting a movie with Amy right now. I wonder if that might make it less possible to use her on the show as well, but I would love to have her on the show.
TVGuide.com: How is the shoot for Baby Mama going? [Poehler plays a less-than-ideal surrogate hired by Fey's wannabe mom.]
Fey: It's going really well so far. We have a really excellent cast. Sigourney Weaver, Maura Tierney is my sister, Greg Kinnear will play my boyfriend, Dax Shepherd is Amy's common-law husband. A very enjoyable cast.
TVGuide.com: That's some hair you're sporting in the Baby Mama clip [screened before the Made in New York awards ceremony]! Almost Sanjaya-like.
Fey: [Laughs] That's not how it is all the time. That's really just in one sequence — in the story, Amy's character has done that to my hair — but it happened to be the day they came, so I was like, "OK!" It's pretty crazy.
TVGuide.com: A story like Paris Hilton in jail, though it's breaking during the summer, does that make you long for SNL's Weekend Update forum?
Fey: [WU] was a real responsibility when I had it, so I sort of feel relieved of the responsibility to have to know what's going on with her.
TVGuide.com: Do you feel like the press, though, has been beating up on Paris too much?
Fey: No! [Laughs]
Use our new Online Video Guide to sample clips of the smart and snappy Tina Fey.
Send your comments on this Q&A to email@example.com.