"No comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness," Tina Fey said of 30 Rock's blackface episodes

By Robyn Merrett
June 23, 2020 09:23 PM
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Megyn Kelly

Megyn Kelly is throwing shade at NBC after Tina Fey apologized for 30 Rock's use of blackface.

On Tuesday, Kelly, 49, responded to Variety's report that Fey and NBCUniversal requested that four episodes, in which characters on the show appear in blackface, be pulled from both streaming and syndication.

"Wait — what network aired those episodes again?" Kelly replied.

PEOPLE is out to NBC about Kelly’s tweet.

Kelly's direct tweet comes nearly two years after her own departure from the broadcasting company.

On Oct. 26, 2018, NBC confirmed reports that Kelly’s 9 a.m. Today show hour was canceled amid immense backlash for her controversial remarks about blackface.

Megyn Kelly Today is not returning,” an NBC spokesperson told PEOPLE as Today anchors Craig Melvin, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker replaced Kelly in her former time slot.

Her exit was announced after her on-camera comments about attempts by universities to discourage “inappropriate and offensive costumes,” asking a panel of guests: “But what is racist? Because truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character.”

Kelly apologized for her comments twice — first in an internal email to colleagues and then on-air as she held back tears. “I defended the idea, saying as long as it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed okay. Well I am wrong and I am sorry,” she said.

As for 30 Rock, Vulture reported on Monday that the series' star and creator Fey, 50, penned a letter to streaming platforms that carry the comedy series, asking that they remove four episodes that feature characters in blackface.

The message was co-signed by collaborator Robert Carlock as well as the show's home network, NBC.

"As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation," read the memo, also obtained by Variety. "I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. I apologize for pain they have caused."

30 Rock
Art Streiber/NBCU Photo Bank

"Going forward," continued Fey, "no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request."

A spokesperson for NBC did not previously respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment about the episodes.

30 Rock won 16 Emmys during its run from 2006 to 2013. The popular series also starred Alec BaldwinJane KrakowskiTracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer.

The controversial episodes include “Believe in the Stars” (season 3, episode 2), “The Live Show” (season 5, episode 4), “Christmas Attack Zone” (season 5, episode 10) and “Live from Studio 6H” (season 6, episode 19).

Two of the episodes feature Krakowski's character Jenna Maroney in blackface, and one other contains guest star Jon Hamm in blackface.

According to Variety, the episodes will be taken down this week, and the particular episodes will not be circulated in syndicated reruns on TV. The outlet also reported that the episodes won't be available for purchase from on-demand sites like iTunes.

The public denouncing of the 30 Rock creative decisions marks a change of heart for Fey, who said in 2015 that she didn't want to apologize for jokes deemed controversial. Fey was responding to criticism of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt character Jacqueline (played by Krakowski), who is revealed to be hiding her Native American heritage.

“Steer clear of the internet and you’ll live forever,” Fey told Net-a-Porter at the time, according to Entertainment Weekly. “We did an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode and the internet was in a whirlwind, calling it ‘racist,’ but my new goal is not to explain jokes. I feel like we put so much effort into writing and crafting everything, they need to speak for themselves.”

Fey added at the time: “There’s a real culture of demanding apologies, and I’m opting out of that.”