'30 Rock's' Tina Fey among those feeling torn as strike begins on East Coast
NEW YORK — The writers strike got underway on the East Coast this morning at 9 a.m., with strikers picketing outside Rockefeller Center. Among them: "30 Rock" writer-actor Tina Fey.
In all, around 75 writers carrying white signs that read "WGAE on strike" paced in a circle behind metal barricades erected on 49th Street in front of NBC's Rockefeller headquarters in the chilly morning air, chanting: "What do we want? Contracts! When do we want it? Now!" The group included many writers from "Letterman," "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," along with marquee names like Amy Sherman-Palladino ("Gilmore Girls"), Seth Meyers ("SNL") and Jon Robin Baitz ("Brothers & Sisters").
But perhaps the best-known writer in the group was "30 Rock's" Fey, who tried to picket back and forth along the sidewalk across the street next to the "Today" show's outdoor set, where more than 100 tourists were gathered to watch the live morning show. Fey managed to hand a yellow flier detailing the writers' grievances to one "Today" fan before one of the dozen police officers on hand instructed her and a colleague to return to their designated metal pen across the street. The tourists appeared more excited about making a star sighting than the fact that a strike was occurring next to them; they eagerly snapped pictures of Fey with their cellphones as she walked away, a sign slung over her shoulder.
"My staff and I are wholeheartedly supporting the strike," Fey said in an interview. "We're happy to be out here today and hope it gets resolved fairly and quickly. I hope they realize we're quite serious," she said of the studios. "I think they need to know we're very united."
Fey, who both writes and stars in "30 Rock," said she felt torn over her conflicting duties. Her show has finished production on nine out of 22 episodes but still has several days of shooting for the 10th episode scheduled for this week.
"It's been made clear to me by NBC Universal that I'm contractually obliged as an actor to finish," she said. "I feel the strike will be most effective when everything shuts down. I understand the guild's point that the longer the shooting trickles on, the less effective the strike is. It's very complicated. We have a crew that expects one more check, and we're trying to get it to them. I think whatever happens in Los Angeles today will be influential.
"If we see actors walk today, that will make it easier."
-- Matea Gold
Photo credit: EPA