Only In Hollywood

How Tina Fey, Amy Poehler pulled off their hit Golden Globes stint

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FEY AND POEHLER. Lived up to high expectations. Photo: www.guardian.co.uk

LOS ANGELES—Tina Fey made it sound easy in an interview how she and Amy Poehler accomplished their well-received cohosting gig at the recent Golden Globe Awards.

“We got a bunch of friends to write jokes with us,” she shared. “We met in Los Angeles on Friday night (last Jan. 11) and went over our jokes, put them in order, and that was it.” Of course, Tina and Amy did more than that to deliver a Golden Globe show last Jan. 13 that lived up to high expectations.

The praise of LA Times’ TV critic, Mary McNamara, for the duo in her review of the Globes show reflected the huzzahs that they earned. McNamara wrote: “Lovely, brilliant and utterly fearless, they made awards-show hosting an art form again, helming three hours of occasionally hilarious, occasionally emotional, and surprisingly enjoyable TV…The show’s opening dialogue had only one flaw—it had to end…Seriously, they could have done an hour set, and everyone would have been happy! Not since Jimmy Fallon hosted the Emmys three years ago has an awards show been this much fun.”

Friendship

McNamara added, “By deftly treading the line between audacious and sarcastic, the hosts sustained an atmosphere that was both inclusive and sharply comedic, relying on their improv skills and longtime friendship to help the telecast live up to its reputation as the loosest and most revelatory of the awards shows.”

Tina stressed too that, indeed, being pals with Amy and their considerable improv experience greatly contributed to their successful cohosting stint and how much they enjoyed it.

“We’ve known each other for a very long time,” she said. “We started improv together in Chicago. We met in 1993. We toured for this theater company called The Second City. We were six to eight people in a van, driving around the country. We were always working. So, when we were on ‘Saturday Night Live’ together, we had shorthand with each other. It’s very comfortable to be with her.”

Major jitters

Tina said she didn’t need to rein in her nerves at all in cohosting a show that was seen by millions of viewers around the world. The writer-actress explained that she didn’t experience major jitters because of “the fact that I wasn’t alone, I come from this improv background, and having a partner I knew so well.”

So, who gets the credit for writing Amy’s oft-mentioned joke in the opening segment that referred to Best Director nominee, Kathryn Bigelow (who was in the audience), the controversy about the torture element in her film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” and her director ex-husband? Amy’s one-liner went like this: “I haven’t paid much attention, but when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.”

Tina answered, “The James Cameron joke was by a friend of mine named Sam Means, who’s an American treasure.”

Jokes

On her quip about Taylor Swift’s dating life, “Taylor Swift, you stay away from Michael J. Fox’s son,” Tina replied, “Amy and I are both moms. We were kind of cautious in choosing the jokes. I think that joke was completely innocuous. I wouldn’t have said it otherwise.”

Tina said that it “would be a shame to say no” to opportunities like cohosting the Globes, because it “seems like that would be fun. We should really say yes, because there’s a rule on improvisation. My old teacher used to say that the fun is always on the other side of a yes. So, we try and say yes to as many things as possible.”

Tina says yes or no to applicants as a Princeton University admissions officer in “Admission,” her new film directed by Paul Weitz. She is paired up for the first time on the big screen with Paul Rudd in the comedy-drama that also stars Michael Sheen and Lily Tomlin.

Essays

Asked if she would make a good gatekeeper who screens thousands of college-bound hopefuls in real life, Tina replied, “The only thing that would inhibit me from being a good admissions officer is that I don’t think I could read fast enough. The admissions officers read thousands of essays.”

On the rejection experience that actors share with university applicants, she commented, “You do need to have a thick skin as an actor. That’s why I’m always very grateful that I have not made my life solely as an actor. I was able to sneak through the back door as a writer.

“In this movie, from the moment I read in the script the sequence where we’re presenting the people we want to get in, it reminded me of when I worked on ‘SNL’ as a head writer. I’d be reading people’s submission packets to become writers, or I would sit in on auditions for the show. I remembered the pressure—you know you have someone else’s lifelong dream in your hands. Actors have a terrible road.”

She shared the outlook she has honed about rejection: “You have to take it at its most surface level, not as a rejection of your value as a person or your ability. For actresses, it’s like, ‘You didn’t have the same kind of nose as the guy who’s supposed to be your brother.’ It’s beyond your control, like they wanted a taller version of you! You cannot take it personally.”

She emphasized, “You can take rejection either way—you can take it as something to knock you down, or you can use it as a fuel to try again or try to go a different way. And that (the latter) is what I would do!”

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