Oprah: Did your show survive only because it received such critical acclaim?
Tina: Yes—any other show would have been gone. Of course, we debuted at a time when NBC didn't have much else happening. If Friends or Frasier were still on the air, forget it.
Oprah: Last year 30 Rock received 17 Emmy nominations. Did y'all go nuts when the nominations were announced?
Tina: We were working that day, but we did have a little champagne. Then somebody pointed out that The Larry Sanders Show had once gotten 16 nominations but won nothing. I was like, "Okay, I'll get ready to win nothing."
Oprah: How many did you win?
Oprah: And what does it mean to win?
Tina: The first year, it made us feel like a real TV show. Before the Emmys, I had done a lot of downplaying: "It's just a bunch of people who paid 200 bucks to start a club and give themselves prizes." But after we won, I was like, "It's the greatest thing ever—extremely prestigious."
Oprah: Just like that, it became an honor!
Tina: Exactly! Actually, it's rewarding for everybody who works so hard on the show.
Oprah: What's your process for creating a script?
Tina: Once we have a preliminary draft, we do a reading. Then I'll have a couple of writers over to my home. We plug the computer into the TV, put the script onscreen, and work on it together. We try to include three story lines in every episode. When I go back and watch the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I'm like, "My God, there's just one story!"
Oprah: That American Express ad where you're hiding under the table with total chaos around you—is that real?
Tina: My life is not quite that crazy, but it's close. It's a weird mix: I have this job that I love, but I'm also like, "When can I go home?" In a way, that's good, because otherwise, I'd never go home. I would just kill myself doing this show. And even so, the moment we put Alice to bed, Jeff and I go back to work. Sometimes I call a moratorium on talking about work at home, but mostly, we talk about it nonstop.
We Hear You!