Kristen Baldwin
December 21, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

Tonight’s top story: Tina Fey wants to be nicer to famous people. ”My New Year’s resolution is to cut back on mean celebrity jokes,” says Fey, 31, who’s hosted Saturday Night Live’s ”Weekend Update” with Jimmy Fallon since last year. ”And like every New Year’s resolution, I’ll probably break it January 3rd.”

Thank God. After all, the woman has a gift. Consider this report: ”In a recent interview, 15-year-old British opera star Charlotte Church said New Yorkers are being overdramatic about the attacks of 9/11…. But don’t be too hard on Charlotte, because she’s only 15, and when she grows up she’s going to be fat.”

Fey’s precisely crafted, pertly delivered zingers — often punctuated with a ”Jeez, I’m sorry” grimace — have helped put SNL back in America’s good graces. And as the show’s first female head writer (a post she assumed in 1999), Fey continues to find the funny at a time when laughter isn’t easy medicine to take. ”What she does behind the desk is what she’s been doing behind the scenes for years,” says Fey’s co-head writer Dennis McNicholas.

Fey’s also done so much for eyeglasses, LensCrafters should put her on the payroll. But the Pennsylvania native is mystified by reports that she is, in fact, hot: ”I save those clippings so I can prove to my children that someone once said that.” Now that she’s a celeb herself, Fey’s had to face questions about everything from her pre-”Update” weight loss (”No one ever told me to lose weight — I did it over the summer”) to her facial scar (from a childhood injury she prefers not to discuss).

Becoming a public figure was the least of Fey’s worries when SNL launched the season 18 days after the WTC attacks. ”There was a trust we had to build with the audience,” says Fey, who joined SNL’s writing staff in 1997 after a stint at Chicago’s famed Second City. She now mocks the unmockable with visceral ”Update” rants: ”Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a terrorism warning asking all Americans to be on high alert….I think I speak for all Americans when I say, ‘Bitch, I can’t be any more alert than I already am!”’

That diatribe alone could earn her a spot on this list, though Fey isn’t convinced. ”’Entertainers’ are people who can sing and train tigers,” she says. ”I should have a big feather headdress to be an entertainer.” Nah — just hang on to those specs.

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