Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tina Fey Biography

Elizabeth Stamatina "Tina" Fey (born May 18, 1970) is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer, known for her work on the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live (SNL), the NBC comedy series 30 Rock, and films such as Mean Girls (2004) and Baby Mama (2008).

Tina Fey
Tina Fey
Tina Fey first broke into comedy as a featured player in the Chicago-based improvisational comedy group The Second City. Tina Fey then joined SNL as a writer, later becoming head writer and a performer, known for her position as co-anchor in the Weekend Update segment. In 2004 she adapted the screenplay Mean Girls in which she also co-starred. After leaving SNL in 2006, Tina Fey created the television series 30 Rock, a situation comedy loosely based on her experiences at SNL. In the series, Tina Fey portrays the head writer of a fictional sketch comedy series. In 2008, she starred in the comedy film Baby Mama, alongside former SNL co-star Amy Poehler. Fey next appeared in the 2010 comedy films Date Night and Megamind.

Tina Fey has received seven Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Writers Guild of America Awards. She was singled out as the performer who had the greatest impact on culture and entertainment in 2008 by the Associated Press, which gave her its AP Entertainer of the Year award for her satirical portrayal of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a guest appearance on SNL. In 2010, Tina Fey was the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the youngest-ever winner of the award.

Early life

Tina Fey was born in Upper Darby, PA – a township just west of Philadelphia. She is the daughter of Zenobia "Jeanne" (née Xenakes) – a brokerage employee of Greek descent – and Donald Fey, a university grant proposal-writer of German, Scottish and Russian descent. She has a brother, who is eight years older, named Peter.

Tina Fey was exposed to comedy early. She recalls:
"I remember my parents sneaking me in to see Young Frankenstein. We would also watch Saturday Night Live, or Monty Python, or old Marx Brothers movies. My dad would let us stay up late to watch The Honeymooners. We were not allowed to watch The Flintstones though: my dad hated it because it ripped off The Honeymooners. I actually have a very low level of Flintstones knowledge for someone my age."

Tina Fey also grew up watching Second City Television (SCTV) and cites Catherine O'Hara as a role model.

Tina Fey attended Cardington Elementary School and Beverly Hills Middle School in Upper Darby. By middle school, she knew she was interested in comedy, even doing an independent-study project on the subject in eighth grade. Tina Fey attended Upper Darby High School, where she was an honor student, a member of the choir, drama club, and tennis team, and co-editor of the school's newspaper. She also anonymously wrote the newspaper's satirical column, The Acorn. Following her graduation in 1988, Fey enrolled at the University of Virginia, where she studied playwriting and acting. She graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama.

Tina Fey
Tina Fey

Saturday Night Live (1997–2006)
While performing shows with the Second City in 1997, Tina Fey submitted several scripts to NBC's variety show Saturday Night Live (SNL), at the request of its head writer Adam McKay, a former performer at Second City. She was hired as a writer for SNL following a meeting with SNL creator Lorne Michaels, and moved to New York. Fey told The New Yorker, "I’d had my eye on the show forever, the way other kids have their eye on Derek Jeter." Originally, Fey "struggled" at SNL. Her first sketch to air starred Chris Farley in a Sally Jessy Raphael satire. Tina Fey went on to write a series of parodies, including one of ABC's morning talk show The View. She co-wrote the "Sully and Denise" sketches with Rachel Dratch, who plays one of the teens.

Tina Fey played an extra in one of the episodes in 1998, and after watching herself, decided to diet and lost 30 pounds. She told The New York Times, "I was a completely normal weight. But I was here in New York City, I had money and I couldn't buy any clothes. After I lost weight, there was interest in putting me on camera." In 1999, McKay stepped down as head writer, which led Michaels to approach Tina Fey for the position. She became SNL's first female head writer, a milestone she downplays.

In 2000, Tina Fey began performing in sketches, and she and Jimmy Fallon became co-anchors of SNL's Weekend Update segment. Fey said she did not ask to audition, but that Michaels approached her. Michaels explained that there was "chemistry" between Fey and Fallon. Michaels, however, revealed that choosing Fey was "kind of risky" at the time. Her role in Weekend Update was well-received by critics. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "...Fey delivers such blow darts – poison filled jokes written in long, precisely parsed sentences unprecedented in Update history – with such a bright, sunny countenance makes her all the more devilishly delightful." Dennis Miller, a former cast member of SNL and anchor of Weekend Update, was pleased with Fey as one of the anchors for the segment: "...Tina Fey might be the best Weekend Update anchor who ever did it. She writes the funniest jokes". Robert Bianco of USA Today, however, commented that he was "not enamored" of the pairing.

In 2001, Tina Fey and the writing staff won a Writers Guild of America Award for SNL's 25th anniversary special. The following year at the 2002 Emmy Awards ceremony, she and the writing team won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program.

Tina Fey
Tina Fey
The pairing of Tina Fey and Fallon ended in May 2004 when Fallon last appeared as a cast member. He was replaced by Amy Poehler. It was the first time that two women co-anchored Weekend Update. Fey revealed that she "hired" Poehler as her co-host for the segment. The reception to the teaming of Tina Fey and Poehler was positive, with Rachel Sklar of the Chicago Tribune noting that the pairing "has been a hilarious, pitch-perfect success as they play off each other with quick one-liners and deadpan delivery".

The 2005–2006 season was her last; she thereafter departed to develop 30 Rock.

30 Rock (2006–present)
In 2002, Tina Fey  suggested a pilot episode for a situation comedy about a cable news network to NBC, who rejected it. The pilot was reworked to revolve around an SNL style series, and was accepted by NBC. She signed a contract with NBC in May 2003, which allowed her to remain in her SNL head writer position at least through the 2004–2005 television season. As part of the contract, Fey was to develop a primetime project to be produced by Broadway Video and NBC Universal. She began developing the pilot project under the working title Untitled Tina Fey Project. The pilot, directed by Adam Bernstein, centered on the head writer of a variety show and how she managed her relationships with the show's volatile star and its executive producer. In October 2006, the pilot aired on NBC as 30 Rock. Although the episode received generally favorable reviews, it finished third in its timeslot.

The network renewed the series for a second season, which began in October 2007. The show's third season premiered on October 30, 2008. The premiere episode set records for the highest ratings of the series. In January 2009, NBC renewed 30 Rock for the 2009–2010 season.

In 2007, Tina Fey received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. The show itself won the 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. In 2008, she won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and Emmy awards all in the category for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. The following year, Fey again won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award in the same categories, and was nominated for an Emmy Award. In early 2010, Tina Fey received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Lead Actress. 30 Rock was renewed for the 2010–2011 season in March 2010. It will return for the 2011-2012 season, though due to Fey's pregnancy with her second child, the season premiere will be delayed until midseason.

Tina Fey
Tina Fey
Feature films
In 2002, Tina Fey appeared in the surreal comedy Martin & Orloff. She made her debut as writer and co-star of the 2004 teen comedy Mean Girls. Characters and behaviors in the movie are based on Fey's high school life at Upper Darby High School and on the non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. The cast includes other past cast members of SNL including Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, and Amy Poehler. The film received favorable reviews, and was a box office success, grossing $129 million worldwide.

In a 2004 interview, Tina Fey expressed that she would like to write and direct movies in which she has small parts. In 2006, Tina Fey worked on a movie script for Paramount Pictures, which was to feature Sacha Baron Cohen, by the name of Curly Oxide and Vic Thrill, based loosely on the true story of a Hasidic rock musician. In 2007, she was cast in the animated comedy film Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters as the Aqua Teens' mother, a giant burrito.

Tina Fey and former SNL castmate Amy Poehler starred in the 2008 comedy Baby Mama. The movie was written and directed by Michael McCullers. The plot concerns Kate (Fey), a business woman, who wants a child but, discovering she has only a million-to-one chance of getting pregnant, decides to find a surrogate: Angie (Poehler), a white-trash schemer. Baby Mama received mixed reviews, but many critics enjoyed Fey's performance. Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote: "Fey is a delight to watch throughout. Able to convey Kate's intentions and feelings through the simple looks and inflections, she never melodramatizes her situation; nor does her efficient, perfectionist side become overbearing." The movie grossed over $64 million at the box office.

Tina Fey
Tina Fey
Tina Fey's projects after 2008 include her lending her voice to the character Lisa in the English language version of the Japanese animated film Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (titled Ponyo for its U.S. release). In 2009, she appeared in The Invention of Lying, alongside Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and Christopher Guest. Her next film role was in Shawn Levy's 2010 comedy Date Night, a feature that focuses on a married couple, played by Fey and Steve Carell, who go on a date; however, the night goes awry for the two. Also in the same year, she voiced Roxanne Ritchie, a television reporter, in the DreamWorks animated film Megamind (2010). With a total worldwide gross of $321 million, Megamind is Fey's most commercially successful picture to date. It earned $173 million outside the U.S. and $148 million domestically.

In July 2010 it was announced that Tina Fey will star in an upcoming comedy entitled Mommy & Me alongside Meryl Streep, who will play her mother. The film will be directed by Stanley Tucci.

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