The current executive producers are Tina Fey, Lorne Michaels, Marci Klein, David Miner and Robert Carlock. 30 Rock is filmed primarily at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Queens, New York, but some scenes are filmed on location at Rockefeller Center. The series has an ensemble cast which currently consists of ten regular cast members, including Fey. The other main cast members are, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander and Alec Baldwin. The show also has a cast of three other supporting cast members; Keith Powell, Lonny Ross, and Katrina Bowden; as well as many recurring characters.
30 Rock has been a critical success, winning several major awards including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series both in 2007 and 2008, the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Series, the Producers Guild of America Award for Producer of the Year in Episodic Comedy Series, and a Peabody Award, as well as achieving the top ranking on a myriad of critics' year-end best of 2006 and 2007 lists. Despite these accolades, the series averaged a low 5.8 million viewers in the United States during its first season, according to the Nielsen Ratings system, and ranked 102 out of 142 television series.
During the 2004-2005 pilot season, a pilot was announced named Untitled Tina Fey Project. The 30 Rock pilot focused on the head writer 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 variety show's new network executive. 30 Rock was officially given the greenlight to air on May 15, 2006 and was given a 13-episode order.
The show 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, DotComedy.com. The idea was to air the fictitious TGS with Tracy Jordan online. This aspect of the series was abandoned prior to its debut.
The series features a "jaunty" jazz soundtrack. The music is composed by Fey's husband Jeff Richmond, who is also a producer for 30 Rock. Richmond wrote the theme song, which was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music. Seven short original songs have been featured in episodes, five of which were performed by Jane Krakowski, another performed by Tina Fey and Jason Sudeikis, and another performed by Tracy Morgan. The show has also covered three existing songs, including the song "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips. The song had its lyrics altered to accommodate the character Kenneth being "misinformed about the time [of the 11:45 train]." The song "Oh My" performed by the The Gray Kid is heard throughout the episode "The Source Awards", which was mixed with a piano arrangement composed by Richmond.
The plot of 30 Rock revolves around the cast and crew of the fictional sketch comedy series TGS with Tracy Jordan, which is filmed in Studio 6H inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The cast of the series is an ensemble cast, which means that each character is seen with roughly the same amount of importance in each episode. The initial season had seven roles receiving star billing. Tina Fey portrayed the protagonist, the head writer of TGS with Tracy Jordan, Liz Lemon. Tracy Morgan played the loose cannon star of TGS, Tracy Jordan. Jane Krakowski acted as the limelight seeking Jenna Maroney. Jack McBrayer portrayed the young, obedient Southern-born NBC page, Kenneth Parcell. Scott Adsit played the "sane," quick witted producer of TGS, Pete Hornberger. Judah Friedlander acted as the trucker hat-wearing childish, sarcastic writer Frank Rossitano, and Alec Baldwin portrayed the decisive, controlling, suave network executive Jack Donaghy, who constantly interferes with the goings on at TGS.
Beginning with season two, three characters, who were credited as guest stars during season one, received star billing in addition to the existing cast. Katrina Bowden portrayed Liz's attractive, laid back assistant Cerie Xerox. Keith Powell played black Harvard alumni writer James "Toofer" Spurlock. Lonny Ross acted as the immature TGS cast member Josh Girard. Numerous supporting characters have been given recurring appearances in the series. They include Maulik Pancholy as Jack's loyal assistant Jonathan. Grizz Chapman and Kevin Brown make appearances as members of Tracy's entourage Grizz and Dot Com, respectively. John Lutz makes appearances as the food loving TGS writer J.D Lutz.
Tina Fey worked with Jen McNamara and Adam Bernstein for the casting of the series. Fey's first act as casting director was to cast herself as the lead character, Liz Lemon, who is said to be much like Fey herself when she first became head writer on SNL. The next actor to be cast was Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, who was then a former castmate of Fey's in SNL. Morgan was asked by Fey to play the role, and he believed it was "right up [his] alley and it was tailor made for [him]". Fey said that the character of Kenneth Parcell was written with Jack McBrayer in mind. McBrayer was an old friend of Fey, and she "really wanted him for that part and was very happy when no one objected". Rachel Dratch, Fey's longtime comedy partner and fellow SNL alumna, was originally cast to portray Jenna. Dratch played the role in the show's original pilot, but in August 2006, Jane Krakowski was announced as Dratch's replacement, with Dratch remaining involved in the show playing various characters. Fey explained the change by noting that Dratch was "better-suited to playing a variety of eccentric side characters", and that the role of Jenna was more of a straight-ahead acting part. Although Fey went on to say that "Rachel and I were both very excited about this new direction", Dratch said that she was not happy with the media's depiction of the change as a demotion. Dratch was skeptical about the reasons she was given for the change, and was not happy with the reduction in the number of episodes in which she would appear. Shortly following the casting of McBrayer and Dratch, Alec Baldwin was cast as Jack Donaghy, the "totally uncensored" Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming. Fey said that the character of Jack Donaghy was written with Baldwin in mind, and she was "very pleasantly surprised when he agreed to do it". Judah Friedlander was cast as the staff writer of The Girlie Show, Frank Rossitano. Friedlander had never met Fey before auditioning for a role in 30 Rock. His character was based on at least two writers that Fey used to work with at SNL, but said that he "certainly brought some of [his] own things to it as well". Finally, Scott Adsit was cast as Pete Hornberger, a long time friend of Liz's and producer of The Girlie Show. Adsit, an old friend of Fey, also had his character written based on him.
Season one began airing in the United States on October 11, 2006, and featured 21 episodes. The season finale aired on April 26, 2007. When Jack Donaghy, the "Head of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming" at General Electric (GE), is transferred to work at the NBC headquarters, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and retool the late night sketch comedy series The Girlie Show. The show's cast and crew are outraged by this; especially head writer Liz Lemon and main actress Jenna Maroney. Jack proceeds to wreak havoc on The Girlie Show, forcing Liz to hire the off-the-wall movie star Tracy Jordan. He again angers the cast and crew of The Girlie Show when he changes the name to TGS with Tracy Jordan (or just TGS).
As the season progresses, the episodes become less about TGS and more about how the characters deal with juggling their lives and their jobs—specifically the protagonist, Liz Lemon, but other characters are also explored. Episodes also become less self contained and various story arcs develop in the second half of the season. For example, the first major story arc centers on Liz's relationship with Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters), "The Beeper King." Other story arcs include: Jenna promoting her movie The Rural Juror; Tracy going on the run from The Black Crusaders; Jack's engagement, which was eventually called off, to a Christie's auctioneer named Phoebe (Emily Mortimer); and another relationship of Liz's with Floyd (Jason Sudeikis).
Season two began airing in the United States on October 4, 2007, and featured 15 episodes. The second season was originally intended to consist of 22 episodes but the order was cut to 15 due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, The season finalé aired on May 8, 2008. After Liz broke up with Floyd in the summer, she is looking for ways to rebound. When Jerry Seinfeld confronts Jack about a new marketing campaign which featured clips of Seinfeld's sitcom, Seinfeld, in all NBC shows, he has a chance encounter with Liz that gives her some much needed advice. During the TGS summer hiatus, Jenna becomes obese due to performing in the broadway show Mystic Pizza: The Musical and with the help of Kenneth, loses the weight. Tracy has encountered some marital problems with his wife Angie Jordan (Sherri Shepherd) and they become separated, but later reunite.
During the season, Jack develops a relationship with a Democratic congresswoman named Celeste "C.C." Cunningham (Edie Falco). They later break up. An arc that was established in the first season but becomes more apparent in the second regards Jack running for the GE chairmanship against his archnemesis Devon Banks (Will Arnett). The season ends with Liz planning to adopt a child after believing she was pregnant with Dennis' baby. Kenneth also travels to Beijing to be a page at the 2008 Summer Olympics and Tracy invents a pornographic video game. Jack ends the season working at a new government job in Washington, D.C., but plans to get fired by proposing a "gay bomb."
30 Rock has been well received by critics but has struggled to attract viewers. Robert Abele of LA Weekly declared that the show was "A weirdly appropriate and hilarious symbol of our times. The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote that "The standard caution is relevant - debut episodes tend to be highly polished. All the more reason to enjoy the hilarious scenes and fine ensemble cast here. Some less favorable reviews were received from Brian Lowry of Variety. Lowry said that "Despite her success with "Mean Girls," [Tina] Fey mostly hits too-familiar notes in the pilot. Moreover, she's a limited protagonist, which is problematic. Criticism was also received from Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, who said that "30 Rock is less than the sum of its parts, and, as an entry in the single-camera comedy sweepstakes, it fails to show either the inspired inventiveness of Arrested Development or provide the surprisingly perceptive character studies of The Office. Metacritic gave the pilot episode a Metascore—a weighted average based on the impressions of a select thirty-one critical reviews—of 67 out of 100.
The season premiere of the second season, "SeinfeldVision," which featured Jerry Seinfeld, received mostly positive reviews. Jeff Labrecque of Entertainment Weekly wrote that "SeinfeldVision was a clever and ironic way to incorporate [Jerry] Seinfeld." Matt Webb Mitovich of TV Guide said that "['SeinfeldVision'] was a solid start to the new, fought-for season" and that it did have "some great, great moments." Despite this praise, Webb Mitovich criticised Kenneth and Tracy's "office wife" storyline saying that "we've seen this shtick before on countless other sitcoms, so it was a bit empty and filled with 'easy' jokes." Criticism was also received regarding the "striped outfit... it didn't work. No," referring to a joke involving Jenna trying to distract the TGS writers from her newly gained weight. Lisa Schmeiser of Television Without Pity graded this episode as a "B+." Despite the mostly positive reviews, Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times thought that "SeinfeldVision" "is mostly a reminder that even the most talented actors and writers sometimes slip under pressure." Days before the premiere of the season premiere, Seinfeld was criticized as using his appearance in this episode as a plug for his upcoming feature film Bee Movie. Seinfeld, NBC and General Electric stated that this was done as metahumor.
At the end of 2006, LA Weekly listed 30 Rock as one of the best "Series of the Year." The show also appeared on similar year end "best of" 2006 lists published by The New York Times, The A.V. Club, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Sun-Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, People Weekly, and TV Guide. The Associated Press wrote that NBC's "Thursday night comedy block—made up of My Name Is Earl, The Office, Scrubs, and 30 Rock—is consistently the best night of prime time viewing for any network." In 2007, it appeared on The Boston Globe's "best of" list as well as the "best of" lists of The Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, New Jersey Star-Ledger, The New York Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News, TV Guide and USA Today. 30 Rock was named the best series of 2007 by Entertainment Weekly.
Capping its critically successful first season, 30 Rock won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and Elaine Stritch was awarded an Emmy in September 2007 for her work as a guest actress in "Hiatus." Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin were nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Lead Actor in a comedy series categories respectively. "Jack-Tor" and "Tracy Does Conan" were both nominated in the category of Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. 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 also received various other guild award nominations during its first season.
In 2008, Tina Fey won the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical. That year, 30 Rock also received a nomination for Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical. Fey and Baldwin both won Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2008. The series took home the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Series in 2008. It also received the The Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Series - Comedy from the Producers Guild of America in 2008. 30 Rock 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, meaning that 30 Rock was the most nominated comedy series for any individual Emmy year. The previous holder of this record was The Larry Sanders Show in 1996 with 16 nominations. 30 Rock also won the Television Critics Association Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Comedy."
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. Tina Fey also won the award for best writing in a comedy series for the episode "Cooter".
30 Rock received a Peabody Award in 2008. Upon announcing the award, the Peabody Board commended the show for being "not only a great workplace comedy in the tradition of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, complete with fresh, indelible secondary characters, but also a sly, gleeful satire of corporate media, especially the network that airs it."
|Season||Regular timeslot (Eastern Standard Time)||Season premiere||Season finale||Television season||Rank|| Viewers|
|1|| Wednesday 8:00 P.M. (October 11, 2006 - November 1, 2006)|
Thursday 9:30 P.M. (November 16, 2006 - March 8, 2007)
Thursday 9:00 P.M. (April 5, 2007 - April 26, 2007)
|October 11, 2006||April 26, 2007||2006–2007||#102||5.8|
|2||Thursday 8:30 P.M. (October 4, 2007 - December 6, 2007)|
Thursday 9:00 P.M. (December 13, 2007)
Thursday 8:30 P.M. (January 10, 2008 - April 17, 2008)
Thursday 9:30 P.M. (April 24, 2008 - May 8, 2008)
|October 4, 2007||May 8, 2008||2007–2008||#94||6.4|
The pilot episode generated 8.13 million viewers, which currently remains the series' highest rating. In its original timeslot of Wednesday at 8:00PM EST, the show averaged 6.23 million viewers. 30 Rock aired on Wednesdays for its first four episodes. The seasons lowest ratings were achieved by "Jack the Writer" and "Hard Ball" which both achieved 4.61 million viewers. The season two premiere, "SeinfeldVision," was viewed by 7.33 million viewers, the highest rating since the pilot. 30 Rock entered a hiatus due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike on January 10, 2008. The episode that aired on that date was viewed by 5.98 million viewers. The second season finale, "Cooter", which aired on May 8, 2008, was viewed by 5.6 million viewers.
On December 29, 2006, Nielsen Media Research (NMR) reported the results of having, for the first time, monitored viewers who use a digital video recorder to record shows for later viewing. NMR reported that 30 Rock adds nearly 7.5% to its total audience every week as a result of viewers who use a DVR to record the show and then watch it within a week of its initial airing. A March 2007 report from MAGNA Global, based on NMR data about viewership ranked by among adults 25–54, shows that as of the time of the report 30 Rock's viewers have a median income of $65,000, high enough to place the show tied at 11th in affluence with several other shows. This is during a period where for the season 30 Rock is tied at No. 85 in the 18–49 demographic. During its second season, 30 Rock ranked in fourth place, against all primetime programming, for television series' which are watched by viewers with income above $100,000.
30 Rock also airs in other countries; ratings and rankings for some of these markets include:
I just can't imagine the audience would look at both shows, choose one and cancel the other out. In some ways, why is it any different than when there have been three or four cop shows on any schedule, or Scrubs and ER, which are totally very different?
Evidence of the overlapping subject matter between the shows, as well as the conflict between them, arose when Aaron Sorkin, the creator of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, asked Lorne Michaels to allow him to observe Saturday Night Live for a week, a request Michaels denied. Despite this, Sorkin sent Fey flowers after NBC announced it would pick up both series, and wished her luck with 30 Rock. Fey said that "it's just bad luck for me that in my first attempt at prime time I'm going up against the most powerful writer on television. I was joking that this would be the best pilot ever aired on Trio. And then Trio got canceled." Fey wound up "winning" over Sorkin when Studio 60 was canceled after one season and 30 Rock was renewed for a second. Though 30 Rock's first-season ratings proved lackluster and were lower than those of Studio 60, Studio 60 was more expensive to produce.
30 Rock's crew have reportedly made jokes about the similarity with Studio 60. One early promo for 30 Rock portrayed Alec Baldwin mistakenly thinking he would meet Sorkin, and when asked on her "Ask Tina" space what she thought of the criticism that 30 Rock received, Fey jokingly replied that people who did not like it were probably confusing it with Studio 60. However, none of 30 Rock's producers have given Studio 60 any serious criticism, positive or negative. In a November 1, 2006 interview, Fey said she had seen the first two episodes of Studio 60. When asked what her impressions were, she jokingly replied, "I can't do impressions of Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry.
At least three 30 Rock episodes have briefly parodied Studio 60:
Some critics have compared 30 Rock to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, with parallels drawn between the relationship of Liz and Jack and that of Mary Richards and Lou Grant. It has also been compared to That Girl. Like That Girl and Mary Tyler Moore, 30 Rock is a sitcom centering on an unmarried, brunette career woman living in a big city where she works in the television industry.
|DVD Name||Region 1||Ep #||Additional Information|
|30 Rock: Season One||September 4, 2007||21|| The entire first season of 30 Rock was released as a widescreen three-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the USA on September 4, 2007, a month before the premiere of the second season. It was distributed by NBC Universal. Featuring all the episodes that had aired, it also contains several extra DVD features, including episode commentaries, outtakes and deleted scenes.|
The season one box set was released on March 17, 2008 in Regions 2, 4 and 5 format, but not as separate volumes and without special features.
|30 Rock: Season One — Volume One||14|
|30 Rock: Season One — Volume Two||7|
|30 Rock: Season Two||October 7, 2008||15||The entire second season of 30 Rock was released as a widescreen two-disc DVD box set in the USA on October 7 2008. Featuring all the episodes that had aired, it also includes several extra DVD features including episode commentaries, outtakes, deleted scenes, the table read for the episode "Cooter," 30 Rock Live at the UCB Theatre, a behind-the-scenes look at an episode of Saturday Night Live which was hosted by Tina Fey, and The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Presents: An Evening With 30 Rock.|