You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Remote Controlled: Breaking Down ‘Great News’ With Tina Fey, Tracey Wigfield and Nicole Richie

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum and TV critic Sonia Saraiya talk with the executive producers of NBC’s new comedy “Great News,” Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield. Then, Nicole Richie chats with Birnbaum about her role as Portia, the co-anchor of the news show at the center of the sitcom.

“I knew I wanted to do a show about my mom and my relationship with my mom,” says Wigfield, who started her career as an assistant working with Fey and Robert Carlock on “30 Rock.” “I pitched them this idea about a mom who gets an internship working in her daughter’s newsroom. Another great thing about working with Tina and Robert was they knew my mom, whether they wanted to do or not.”

Adds Fey with a laugh, “I vacationed with her mom. I’m not sure how that happened!”

Fey says she was sold on the idea, given Wigfield’s passion for it. “When you hear a pitch like that, what you’re listening for, is it funny, is it believable, does it feel like it has… legs?” explains Fey. “The idea of dropping a mom into a workplace ensemble always struck me as very simple. It’s an easy premise to explain and very fertile.”

And according to Wigfield, working with Fey on “30 Rock” helped train her well for “Great News.”

“I learned so much just watching her and Robert run the show,” says Wigfield. “I had such a newfound respect having never run a show before and now doing it… You want to make sure everyone’s happy. They did such a beautiful job and made it look really easy… I just kind of ‘osmosed’ from them.”

Wigfield says one of the lessons she learned from Fey was the importance of hiring “nice” people: “You have to be able to be in a room with them at 3AM and not be like ‘Shut up, why do you keep saying annoying things!'”

But while Fey was busy across the country, she would still send notes to Wigfield. “Almost every note she gave we took, because her notes are genius,” says Wigfield. “There was one or two times I would be like, I don’t think we need to do this, and I’d be like going rogue. And every single time I was wrong.”

The ensemble cast has won raves from critics, especially Richie. “She’s so funny, she’s so at ease,” Fey says of Richie. “You can’t teach that. People either have it or they don’t. I’ve always found her to be a funny, likable person.”

In the second half of the podcast, Richie talks about her own decision to take on scripted comedy after getting her start in reality television.

“The second I read the script, I said to myself, ‘This is something I would love to do, this is really funny,'” says Richie, who auditioned three times for the role. “Television is something that I’ve always done. I like making people laugh.”

Nicole Richie photographed exclusively for Variety’s Remote Controlled podcast.
Dan Doperalski for Variety

“Portia is nobody’s fool, she’s not dumb,” says Richie. “But she just cares about different things. Where Chuck (John Michael Higgins) cares about delivering news in a traditional way, she cares and knows the importance of social media, of aesthetics, and color and on-air banter. There are so many moments you can say, ‘Oh, she’s an airhead.’ But then you realize she’s more in-tune with the world today than the rest of the cast.”

In the coming episodes, Richie reveals that while things happen in the world, Portia remains focused on herself. “Her perspective of the world is just very different,” says Richie. “I think it’s kind of interesting and fun to see how she’s going to take something in compared to the rest of the people.”

You can listen to this week’s podcast here:

New episodes of Remote Controlled are available every Friday.

More TV

  • Daily Show Viacom

    Viacom, DirecTV Carriage Renewal Talks Continue as Blackout Looms

    UPDATED: Viacom and DirecTV executives are going down to the wire tonight on a combative contract renewal negotiation with high stakes for both sides. Talks were still going after the midnight ET deadline passed and the channels remain up on DirecTV. A team of Viacom executives led by Tom Gorke, exec VP and head of distribution [...]

  • ABBY'S -- "Pilot" Episode 101 --

    TV Review: 'Abby's' Starring Natalie Morales

    “Abby’s,” NBC’s new comedy about a cranky bartender (Natalie Morales) and her inner circle of regulars, is aware of the inevitable “Cheers” comparisons. Created by “New Girl” writer Josh Malmuth and executive produced by uber-producer (and unabashed “Cheers” superfan) Mike Schur, “Abby’s” therefore makes a few key choices in order to differentiate itself as its [...]

  • Ryan Murphy Walk of Fame

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Sets Premiere Date for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician'

    In today’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” series, and Kristin Cavallari will host “Paradise Hotel” on Fox.  DATES Reality star Kristin Cavallari will host Fox’s reboot of “Paradise Hotel,” an unscripted dating show in which a group of singles will check into a tropical resort and compete to check [...]

  • 'Selling Sunset': Producer Behind Netflix's First

    'Selling Sunset': Producer Behind Netflix's First Docusoap on the State of Reality TV

    Netflix crossed another unscripted threshold on Friday with the launch of “Selling Sunset,” an 8-episode series that follows a group of real estate agents on the Sunset Strip. The show is believed to be the streaming service’s first docusoap, the now-ubiquitous format first popularized in the early 2000s by shows like MTV’s “Laguna Beach” and [...]

  • Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018

    Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018 Compensation Soar to $129.4 Million

    Discovery Inc. president-CEO David Zaslav is once again making headlines for an enormous compensation package. Zaslav’s 2018 compensation soared to $129.44 million in 2018, fueled by stock options and grants awarded as the longtime Discovery chief signed a new employment contract last July that takes him through 2023 at the cable programming group. Zaslav received [...]

  • 'Supernatural' to End After Season 15

    'Supernatural' to End After Season 15 on The CW

    “Supernatural” is ending after 15 seasons. Series stars Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins made the announcement in a video posted on Instagram on Friday. “We just told the crew that even though we’re very excited to be moving into our 15th season, it will be our last,” Ackles said. “15 years of a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content