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Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011

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    Tina Fey & Robert Carlock
    Tina Fey and Robert Carlock
    30 Rock (NBC)

    When Fey left NBC's Saturday Night Live in 2006 to launch her own comedy, she reconnected with Carlock, who had been writing for Friends and its short-lived spinoff, Joey. Since then, the duo has created an indelible collection of madcap characters who have wormed their way into the zeitgeist by being petty, insecure and clueless. Both say the characters sprung from their experiences in writers rooms: Carlock's first gig was on The Dana Carvey Show, where he shared an office with Charlie Kaufman, Robert Smigel, Louis C.K., Jon Glaser, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. "It was the best writing staff in the history of sketch comedy," says Carlock, 39. "It was insane. I thought, 'Is it always like this?' It turns out it's not. [Carvey lasted six episodes.] Sometimes you can put it together again if you're as lucky as we are at 30 Rock." The NBC show has won a raft of Emmys, including three statuettes for outstanding comedy series from 2007 to 2009, and endeared itself to critics, if not the masses. It's something Fey jokes about derisively. "Some may argue that exploiting Gov. [Sarah] Palin and her family helped bring attention to my low-rated TV show," she wrote in her autobiography, Bossypants. "I am proud to say ... my TV show still enjoys very low ratings." Fey, 41, gave birth to her second child in August, and 30 Rock went into production Oct. 5 on its sixth season, which bows in January. "We had a good phone call with [NBC Entertainment chairman] Bob Greenblatt a couple months ago where he spoke very intelligently about wanting to grow 30 Rock," says Carlock.  "Everyone wants as many people to watch as possible. We write characters we really love a great deal."  

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