Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels

58 FEA Tina Fey & Lorne Michaels
Ben Hoffmann

Photographed by Ben Hoffmann on Dec. 10 at Michaels’ office at 30 Rock in New York

THE ZEITGEISTERS: Thirty-five years after Lorne Michaels launched NBC’s Saturday Night Live, the live show has maintained its pop culture dominance (developing socially relevant skits to poke fun at the likes of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and TSA agents) and continues to act as the launch pad for its stars, including Tina Fey. Since plucking Fey, 40, from Chicago’s Second City in 1997, Michaels has shepherded her career, tapping her as SNL’s first female head writer two years later and producing her screenwriting debut, 2004’s Mean Girls. After her departure from the show in 2006 (returning briefly in 2008 as vice president-hopeful Sarah Palin), Michaels, 66, signed on to executive produce her NBC series 30 Rock, which bowed that fall and earned a comedy series Emmy win the next year despite its small (yet impassioned) audience. The show (which was recently renewed for a sixth season) nabbed a record-breaking 22 Emmy nominations in 2009 and remains a beacon of hope at NBC even as it skewers it. Michaels has had a long line of favorites, but Fey — with four Emmys nods and two Golden Globes — may just be the network’s next powerhouse. “I’m a big fan,” Michaels says of Fey. Adds Fey, “Me too.”