By: Demetrios Cokinos
The final weeks of 30 ROCK were ones to remember: we had our final wrap party, I was given the chance to interview Tracey Wigfield, co-writer of the series finale with Tina Fey, and even see Alec Baldwin shoot his final shot of the series. But for my final blog post, I would rather narrow the focus of my experience to my favorite moment of my substantive yet short tenure at 30 ROCK.
On Wednesday, December 19th, for the very first time, the 30 ROCK production offices were empty. From accounting to locations to props, everyone stood downstairs huddled together in a small studio space anxiously waiting to see Tina Fey complete her final shot of the series. Ali (my fellow office PA) and I realized that the crew was nearing the shot, so we finished our work and ran down to get a good spot.
I had never seen the set more crowded. Ali and I tried to find a spot in the back of the studio where we could see the take at least from the monitors. Though, being in the back of a crowd of 30 people trying to huddle around a 10 inch monitor did not lead to anything exciting. So Ali and I walked around to the other side of the set, trying to get a better view. We were stopped by the stage door and told to stay there. What we soon realized is that Tina Fey would be performing right in front of us.
We were watching Tina Fey’s stand in pose for the final shot – the lighting had to be perfect. “Last looks!,” yells the Key PA from the other side of the stage. The make-up artists and set decorators take one final scan of the stage and scurry off to the monitors. Tina’s stand in stepped down as Tina Fey walked in. Tina raised her stand-in’s arm and said, “Everyone give a round of applause for Laura Barios! She’s wrapped!” They hugged and then Tina took her place. Ali and I laughed quietly as we watched Tina rehearse the scene. Tina seems to find it hilarious when the large make-up crew comes to touch her up before the real take. We could see Tina making funny faces at us through the number of arms around her face.
Then the stage cleared, three bells overhead rung, and the camera began recording. I cannot go into any more detail really or I’ll spoil the joke; but I’ll say that both the crew and I were trying hard to hold back our laughs. Tina’s final shot ended her enormously, successful, critically acclaimed and award – winning seven year run so beautifully. And with the final, “cut – check the gate,” her moment was complete. 30 ROCK wrapped Liz Lemon and Tina Fey.
Tina rushed up to the top of the stage amongst the thunderous applause to deliver her final words to her hard working crew. Tina is just naturally funny, so of course with her first three words she had the whole floor roaring with laugher. She talked about her past, saying that she finally realized her dream by creating her own television show. There was an extreme sense of modesty in her words, though, and she thanked every single member of her crew for putting up with the absurd antics of the show – like when out of no where, the script calls for a monkey to walk around with Tracy.
Tina’s words radiated this inspiration to the rest of the crew, allowing them to know that even though 30 ROCK is over, their lives will move to bigger and better places, maybe one day reuniting for another show. In my opinion, Tina represents the best example of hard work: she attended UVA, followed it by taking comedy classes at the renowned Second City, all the way up to working on SNL and creating her own sitcom. I look up to Tina Fey because she never gave up when she knew it would take hard work to get where she is today. And look at her! She has achieved everything she could ever have dreamed for.
And as her speech neared its end, I realized again what an unbelievable opportunity I had being at 30 ROCK. Everyday I was there, I would need to take a step back to be sure that I wasn’t hallucinating. It was a crazy ride for sure – from the simple things like, getting the scripts ready for the current day to the absurd, like Hurricane Sandy with no electricity or water, running out for Tracy Morgan to buy $500 worth of White Castle burgers as a gift to the crew, getting a taco truck paid for by Alec Baldwin, borrowing costumes from SNL – but I loved every wild moment of my sneak peak insider view of television’s finest comedy. My own personal dream is that one day I will be moving towards a Tina Fey-like position, giving parting words after something I love and create comes to an end. And for now I am happy to back at Northwestern, after being in the working world for five months, I am excited to be a student again. But also always looking forward…perhaps back to NYC if I am again so fortunate!