Sure, Barack Obama won the presidency, but the 2008 elections made Tina Fey a superstar.
Fey was already having a tremendous year when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Alaska governor’s resemblance to Fey basically made it inevitable that the “30 Rock” star would return to portray the VP candidate on “Saturday Night Live,” which she’d departed two years earlier.
Fey’s killer Palin impersonation inserted the writer-actress in the middle of a contentious presidential campaign. That exposure — via “SNL” and countless online views (40 million, by one estimation) — helped deliver solid numbers for “30 Rock” when the laffer finally returned to the air Oct. 30 (though critical acclaim and Emmys for best comedy series, outstanding actress and best comedy writing couldn’t have hurt).
Fey’s pop culture domination also extended to the box office, where her film “Baby Mama” made $60.5 million, as well as a ubiquitous series of American Express commercials.
“Tina’s falling right inside that perfect storm,” says NBC exec VP Teri Weinberg. “‘Baby Mama’ and all the energy from those Sarah Palin sketches — it’s a dream come true. Tina’s a household name now. For us, it’s been an amazing opportunity (in bringing back ’30 Rock’).”