Rare is the woman that doesn’t love Tina Fey. The creator of Mean Girls and 30 Rock has all the qualities of an ideal celebrity best friend: intelligent, funny, warm, career-driven and big on the power of female friendship.
And, it turns out, it’s not just women who adore Fey. Alec Baldwin – he of the spot-on Saturday Night Live Donald Trump impression – has revealed that his first encounter with the writer, actor, comedian and producer left him completely smitten.
Baldwin discusses the first time he met Fey in his new memoir, Nevertheless, an adapted extract from which was published by Vanity Fair on Tuesday.
“When I first met Tina Fey – beautiful and brunette, smart and funny, by turns smug and diffident and completely uninterested in me or anything I had to say – I had the same reaction that I'm sure many men and women have: I fell in love,” Baldwin shares.
At the time, Fey was the head writer at Saturday Night Live, and Baldwin was hosting an episode. The actor recalls attending a meeting with the iconic sketch show’s writing team and producers, and asking the talent coordinator if Fey was single.
“She pointed to a man sitting along the wall. Or maybe he was standing?” he says. “This was Jeff Richmond, Tina’s husband. Jeff is diminutive. Tina describes him as ‘travel-size’.”
At first, Baldwin says he couldn’t wrap his head around why Fey would have chosen to be with Richmond. “I thought, ‘What’s she doing with him?’” he writes. “With his spools of curly brown hair and oversized eyes, Jeff resembles a Margaret Keane painting.”
Needless to say, nothing happened between Fey and Baldwin. Years later, she would recruit him to co-star in her acclaimed sitcom 30 Rock, which she also wrote and produced. Baldwin played Jack Donaghy, a conservative, business-minded TV boss, against Fey’s awkward and sarcastic comedy writer Liz Lemon.
Fey’s husband also worked on 30 Rock as the composer and music supervisor, and Baldwin says that working with the “talented… loose and outgoing” Richmond helped him understand why Fey had married him. In fact, he jokes that he quickly changed his stance from “What’s she doing with him?” to “What’s he doing with her?”
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However, Baldwin still saved most of his praise for Fey.
“The roles of writer, producer and star are a lot to handle. Over the life of the show, she was honoured for all of them,” he writes. “But Tina will tell you she is a writer at heart. Beyond dressing up for red carpets, hosting awards shows, or starring in films, Tina, I believe, is most comfortable in a room full of clever people doing what she does so well.”
“Our characters, Liz and Jack, never consummated their relationship,” he continues. “There was, in place of that, a genuine respect, fondness and, ultimately, love for a trusted and irreplaceable colleague.”
Images: Rex Features