A couple of Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players finally are.
Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey announced on the Tonight Show Friday that she would not be returning as "Weekend Update" coanchor this fall, instead focusing her efforts on her new NBC sitcom, 30 Rock.
"I'm not going to do Saturday Night Live anymore," she said. "I wish I could...I wanted to stop doing Saturday Night Live so I could spend more time with Star Jones."
Fey, who joined SNL in 1997 and has served as head writer and "Weekend Update" coanchor since 2000, will be joined in her decampment by Rachel Dratch.
"I'm out of the fake news business now," Fey said at the Television Critics Association summer session Saturday. "I am going to focus just on the new show right now. I've been at Saturday Night Live for nine years total. I know I'll never ever not be there in some way. I'm never not going to call up with an opinion or show up on hiatus wanting to write a sketch. But I will not be in the cast next year. I won't be a paid employee of Saturday Night Live next year."
Her new business will comprise writing, executive-producing and starring in 30 Rock, a half-hour comedy satirizing the behind-the-scenes goings-on of a late-night sketch comedy show à la SNL, titled The Girlie Show, of which Dratch will be the fictional star.
"Rachel is definitely going to be part of the show," Fey said, dismissing speculation that her SNL mate's role would be minimal.
In addition to Dratch, who logged seven seasons on Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock will be a veritable retirement home for SNL alums, with former player Tracy Morgan and recurring host Alec Baldwin also taking starring roles. Den father Lorne Michaels is also a producer of 30 Rock, which he says has little resemblance to NBC's other behind-the-scenes-at-an-SNL-type show, Aaron Sorkin's drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
"They're not similar shows," he said. "This show is not in any way a response to the other show. This show came first.
"Also, they are the hour show, and they have a 60 in it, and we're the half hour show, and we have a 30 in it."
As for the gap left on SNL with Fey and Dratch leaving, Michaels, who said he's "not happy about it," was mum on who would take over the "Weekend Update" throne and whether or not Jimmy Fallon's successor Amy Poehler would remain one of the coanchors.
"We're going to do a bunch of tests, as we've done pretty much every time we've had to make a transition--different combinations and different people alone," Michaels said. "We'll do that in September and decide then what we think the best approach is."
As for who will replace Fey as head writer, that transition has already been made. Last year, Seth Meyers was promoted to co-head writer and will be able to drop the "co" this fall.
Saturday Night Live returns in October. 30 Rock premieres Oct. 11.