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30 rock

“A weirdly appropriate and hilarious symbol of our time.” Robert Abele LA Weekly


the show

Series Plot Liz Lemon is a producer of a Variety show. Jack Donaghy is a top TV network executive. Tracy Jordan is the unpredictable star of Lemon’s hit variety show, “TGS with Tracy Jordan.” Lemon constantly has her hands full, juggling corporate interference from Donaghy and off-the-handle star antics from Jordan, all while attempting to salvage her own personal life. Conception In 2002, Tina Fey was the head writer and a performer on Saturday Night Live (SNL). She pitched the show that became 30 Rock to NBC, originally as a sitcom about cable news. NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly felt that “Fey was using the news setting as a fig leaf for her own experience and he encouraged her to write what she knew.” The show was subsequently reworked to revolve around an SNL-style sketch show. After being presented to Reilly once more, the show was set to air during the 2005–2006 television season. Just before the deal went through, however, the show was nearly brushed aside by Anthony Lewis and Jack Melcher, two NBC executives who fought the idea, fearing that Fey’s removal from SNL would result in a severe cut to the show’s ratings. Eventually, Lewis gave in just a month before his retirement, and Melcher backed down. In May 2003, Fey signed a contract with NBC to remain in her SNL head writer position until at least the 2004–2005 television season and to develop a prime-time project to be produced by Broadway Video and NBC Universal. Filming was postponed due to Tina Fey’s pregnancy.


The Pilot During the 2004–2005 pilot season, a pilot was announced named Untitled Tina Fey Project. The 30 Rock pilot focused on the boss of a variety show who has to manage her relationships with the show’s volatile star and its charismatic executive producer. The storyline evolved into one that dealt with a head writer of a variety show who dealt with both the stars as well as the show’s new network executive.30 Rock was officially given the green light to air May 15, 2006, along with a 13-episode order. The series underwent further changes during the months leading up to and following its debut. A May 2006 press release mentioned that sketches from The Girlie Show would be made available in their entirety on NBC’s broadband website, The idea was to air the fictitious TGS with Tracy Jordan online. This aspect of the series was abandoned prior to its debut. Filming 30 Rock is filmed in New York. Although establishing shots of 30 Rock are often repeated, outdoor scenes are filmed on location at Rockefeller Center or in other parts of New York City. Most of the indoor scenes are filmed at Silvercup Studios in Queens. In the episodes “Cleveland” and “Hiatus,” Battery Park City, Manhattan and Douglaston, Queens doubled for Cleveland, Ohio and Needmore, Pennsylvania, respectively. In the episode “Gavin Volure,” stock footage of the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion was used for exterior shots of the home of Steve Martin’s character. The title sequence is made up of photos and video of 30 Rockefeller Plaza and features the series regulars. The sequence ends with a time lapse of the building and then a title card reading ‘30 Rock’. The sequence has remained mostly the same throughout the series, although there have been changes to the videos of most of the actors.



30 Rock won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in September 2007. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin were nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Lead Actor in a comedy series categories respectively. 30 Rock received four Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Alec Baldwin received the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical in 2007. Baldwin also received the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series in 2007. The show received 17 Emmy nominations, for its second season, meaning it was the second most nominated series of the year. These 17 nominations broke the record for the most nominations for a comedy series. The previous holder of this record was The Larry Sanders Show with 16 nominations. Also in 2008, 30 Rock completed a sweep of the major awards for best comedy series at that year’s Primetime Emmy Awards. The show won Outstanding Comedy Series, Alec Baldwin was recognized as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and Tina Fey was given the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. This marks the eighth time in the history of the Emmy awards that a show won best series plus best lead actor and actress. At the 2008 Golden Globe awards, 30 Rock won the award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, Alec Baldwin won Best Actor in a Television Musical or Comedy, and Tina Fey won Best Actress in a Television Musical or Comedy.


liz lemon

Portrayed by Tina Fey Nicknames Lemon, LL, Dummy, Liz Lemon Cool J, Li Lem, Beth, Lizzy,The Lizard, Blizzard, Menta-Liz Religion I pretty much do whatever Oprah tells me to.


After a mere glance at her in the pilot, Jack sums up Liz as a “New York third-wave feminist, collegeeducated, single-and-pretending-to-be-happyabout-it, over-scheduled, undersexed, you buy any magazine that says ‘healthy body image’ on the cover and every two years you take up knitting for a week”. This is confirmed by Pete to be accurate, commenting that the “knitting” part, in particular, was uncanny. Liz is generally portrayed as something of a “geek”. So, while she is an apparently skilled writer, she seems to have very few social skills (in “Rosemary’s Baby”, Jack describes her as “socially retarded”). For example, while she was trying to pick up men at a karaoke bar, a man asked her if the seat next to her was taken, leading her to ask him why she should have to move her coat just so he could sit there

jack donaghy

Portrayed by Alec Baldwin Nicknames Jackie Religion Irish Roman Catholic

Jack is portrayed as a slick, yet scrupulous network executive with an affinity for overtly backhanded compliments, which are usually directed towards TGS head writer Liz Lemon (whom he refers to by her last name more often than not). Although his first priority is to run a successful business, Jack often shows a human side, as when he doesn’t fire Kenneth Parcell after beating him at poker when Kenneth bet his job, or when he rushes to take Lemon home after oral surgery despite being with Jessup. He has made it clear that he respects Liz’s abilities and considers her a friend, albeit by calling for her advice at odd times. In “Jack the Writer”, he tried to develop a friendly relationship with the writers, particularly Liz, and made it clear that his feelings were hurt when Liz told him to stay out of the writers’ room (although he apparently couldn’t let go of his pride to say this directly).


jenna maroney

Portrayed by Jane Krakowski Religion Kabbalah

Jenna is shown to have histrionic personality disorder, an obsessive need for attention. She is vain and self-centred and is willing to do anything for attention. In “Queen of Jordan”, she organises her own intervention for (fictional) alcoholism because she believes audiences will respond to the “redemptive qualities” that such a storyline would have; however, she attempts to back out when she realises that going into rehab would take her away from the show. In “The Ones”, Pete suspects that Jenna might be a sociopath, after repeatedly poisoning Kenneth with strawberries, to date an attractive emergency medical technician. Jenna is easily threatened by anyone who displays any degree of talent, and will go out of her way to sabotage their efforts in order to protect her position. Her usual response to these situations is to lock herself in her dressing room, forcing Liz to extricate her. Despite being best friends, Jenna is a constant source of frustration for Liz, often distracting her with insignificant problems and demanding Liz fix them straight away.


tracy jordan

Portrayed by Tracy Morgan Religion Unspecified

Jordan is a dim-witted, self-centered prima donna. For instance, in “Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning”, Tracy says, “Perfection is my middle name. ‘Unclaimed Perfection Baby Boy’. He aspires to own an island. Jordan is treated for a mental health disorder by Dr. Leo Spaceman, a doctor of questionable integrity and qualification, who describes Tracy’s problems as “erratic tendencies and delusions brought on by excessive notoriety and certainly not helped by my highly experimental treatments.” He is unable to do the same thing twice, making his employ as an actor difficult. Jordan is also a conspiracy theorist who believes, for instance, in shadow organizations or vampires. Despite all this, the character is supposed to be generally well-meaning and more intelligent than he appears. He is able to remember details of American history and is able to answer trivia questions correctly. He also has a sensitivity to the mistreatment of African Americans.


kenneth parcell

Portrayed by Jack McBrayer Religion Eighth Day Resurrected Covenant of the Holy Trinity

Kenneth Parcell is a perpetually-cheerful NBC page, who hails from Stone Mountain, Georgia, where his father was a pig farmer. An awkward yet polite rube, he always projects an extremely optimistic demeanor, and is excited and happy to do his menial job, which is due to his love for television and his devotion to the NBC network. In “Believe in the Stars”, he states that he only loves two things: “everybody and television”. While Kenneth appears to be in his mid to late twenties, since the third season, it has been implied numerous times that he is actually much older. This is first hinted at in “The One with the Cast of Night Court”, when Kenneth states, “I’ve worn this old jacket since 19-hubeduh”, intentionally mumbling the year. In the episode “Cutbacks”, Kenneth states that he has owned his pet bird, named Sonny Crockett, for almost 60 years. In a deleted scene from “Mamma Mia”, it is implied that he is a veteran of World War II, as he is recognized by an elderly man as one of his fellow troops that served in Normandy. In the episode “Into the Crevasse”, Kenneth appears in a 1950s-era flashback, dancing to the song “Doin’ the Microwave”.



Tina Fey was not originally going to star in the show. Influenced by creator Tina Fey’s experience while being head-writer for Saturday Night Live. Jeff Richmond, Fey’s husband, composes all of the show’s music and also serves as a producer on the show. He also appears in some episodes as the show-within-the-show’s piano player. The show’s 22 Emmy nominations in 2009 were the most a comedy show ever received in a single year. Liz Lemon’s catchphrase ‘I want to go to there’ was coined by Tina Fey’s daughter Alice. One of the reasons Jane Krakowski was drawn to the series was because it gave her the chance to sing and dance. Sitcoms today don’t usually allow for that - this was the first since Ally McBeal. Alec Baldwin says 30 Rock is the best job he’s ever had. Jon Hamm auditioned for the role of Jack Donaghy. He would later appear on the show as Dr. Drew Baird. As of 2012, Alec Baldwin has won the SAG Award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series every year since the show’s inception, a feat held by no other actor in either drama or comedy.



30 rock pages  

Robert Abele LA Weekly “A weirdly appropriate and hilarious symbol of our time.” 2 Series Plot Liz Lemon is a producer of a Variety show. Ja...

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