As everyone expected, NBC renewed “30 Rock” for an abbreviated final season: 13 episodes and then it’s off to TV Heaven to hang out with “Cheers” and “Newhart” and…what’s that? “‘Til Death”? How’d you get up there? Anyway, “30 Rock” has regained some of its old form in its current sixth season. I think a shortened season is actually better for an older show like this, because they can focus on those 13 scripts and not have to stretch to fill out a 22 episode order. But are there even any “30 Rock” writers left to help Tina Fey? I sure hope so.
Meanwhile, “The Office” is probably going to get renewed. Ed Helms, Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski are about to resign for one more season, so we can expect one final year for that show.
And no, we don’t know anything about “Community” or “Parks and Recreation” yet, which is AWESOME. We all have faith that NBC will bring back those low-rated, critically-acclaimed, endlessly-amazing shows, because we have to have that faith, because considering the alternative would be downright painful. The season (SEASON) finale of “Parks and Recreation” airs tonight, by the way, in case you happen to have 15 million Nielsen boxes available.
On Monday night, Alec Baldwin told New York‘s Vulture that “30 Rock” would be ending after next season. (“Ending” meaning he and Tina Fey are leaving.) This created a minor uproar because, hey, people like “30 Rock,” and nobody had heard it would be ending next year! So Baldwin, probably prodded by his corporate overlords, took to the Huffington Post on Thursday morning to clarify:
I want to take the opportunity to state that although my days on network TV may be numbered, I hope 30 Rock goes on forever. Or at least as long as everyone involved desires.
Next year hopefully won’t be the last. Kenneth can run the network. Jenna will get her own talk show. Tracy will become Mayor of New York. Then resign to go raise exotic reptiles. And Lemon will go do…. just about anything she sets her mind to.
Here’s to five more seasons.
That was it. That was all he wrote. (Aggregation and curation at work!) I can’t help but notice that there was literally no stated retraction of what he said. He never said “I was wrong, Tina might re-up with NBC.” He never said, “I can’t speak for Tina.” He just said his days “may be numbered,” but he hopes the show continues “as long as everyone involved desires.”
Remember, NBC’s denial yesterday never said they expect Tina to be back. They just said they haven’t had “conversations” about the show ending. That’s not remotely the same thing. Alec Baldwin’s clarification today didn’t say the show will go on another five years, just that it was not an impossibility. Again, not the same thing.
Tina Fey is making the rounds publicizing her new book, Bossypants (which is getting lovely reviews, by the way). During an appearance on Oprah’s show, she revealed she’s five months pregnant. (And on that, congrats to her and her husband! That Bossypants excerpt that ran in the New Yorker in February, wherein she discussed having to choose between having a second child and taking advantage of her career heat, painted a very vivid picture of how tricky that decision could be. So it makes me fairly happy to know she can have a second kid and she’ll still be the next Elaine May, minus “Ishtar.”) At some point, somebody is going to ask her if she’s going to sign a new “30 Rock” deal.
One of three things is either happening or going to happen. One possibility is that she is not intending to sign a new deal, and Baldwin spilled the beans before Fey wanted said beans spilled (perhaps after this season concludes, much like how Steve Carell said he was leaving “The Office” over the summer hiatus). Another option is that Fey would consider signing a new deal, perhaps for another year or two, because sitcom schedules (even sitcoms where you are the star and run the show) offer a stability unmatched by movie productions (which can take you to location shoots, worldwide publicity tours and the like). Maybe Baldwin, intentionally or unintentionally, helped give Fey a leg up in the negotiations, because now they think she might leave so NBC will make a very generous offer. OR, a third option: Perhaps nobody knows for sure, not Fey nor Baldwin nor NBC, and maybe she will leave and maybe she won’t, and this is all idle speculation. At some point she will answer, and even if she doesn’t confirm or deny anything now, we should know for sure by the summer.
Alec Baldwin’s “30 Rock” contract is up in 2012, and he’s made it pretty clear he won’t be signing a new one. But he dropped a reasonably unexpected bombshell when speaking with Vulture at a fundraising gala last night: The show itself will end next year.
But Baldwin says it’s a done deal that Fey will be leaving. “Our contracts are expired [in 2012], and Tina is gonna have a big career directing films and writing. She’s going to be the next Elaine May. She’ll be great.”
On the one hand, yes, Tina Fey does seem like she could have a big film career and be the next Elaine May. But this is the first word about when “30 Rock” could wind down. The show has reached a point where NBC will keep picking it up and it’ll end whenever Tina Fey is ready to move on, so Baldwin’s departure after next season does look like a logical moment for her to end things. Who can imagine the show without him? But with “The Office” soldiering on after Steve Carell, you never know how these things will go.
Anyway, this is very interesting, and probably not the worst news in the world. Six seasons, at least two of them outstanding, and everybody moves on having done something special. We’ll see what Tina Fey says when someone asks her about it during her publicity rounds for “Bossypants.”
UPDATE: An “NBC insider” disagrees with Baldwin. Says TV Line: “While it’s true that Fey and Baldwin’s contacts are up in May 2012, an NBC insider insists, ‘We have had no conversations about 30 Rock ending next season.‘” Well, that’s a denial, but it’s actually not much of a denial. Having “no conversations” about the show ending isn’t the same thing as having conversations about the show continuing into a seventh season.
I have no idea what show these are actually the credits for, but I want to watch it so bad. [Splitsider]
In the fall of 2006, two writer-driven projects with eerily similar premises debuted on the same network. (That the network has been in last place for a while now and is going nowhere fast should not surprise you.) One was the highly-hyped “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” an hourlong look behind the scenes of a sketch comedy show that marked Aaron Sorkin’s return to television three years after he left “The West Wing.” The other was Tina Fey’s sitcom about an “SNL”-esque show. One show was supposed to save a network and become The Next Big Thing, while the other had Tina Fey.
Four years later, “30 Rock” is making a case for being one of the best sitcoms of the modern era, while “Studio 60″ is a punchline. Hey, how’d that happen again?
When “The Apprentice” wraps up for this season, NBC will have to find something else to be the lowest-rated show on Thursdays at 10 p.m. Interestingly, they’re considering moving “30 Rock” to the 10 p.m. slot. It would be followed at 10:30 p.m. by “Outsourced,” perhaps accepting that nobody who watches NBC’s legitimately great comedies should have to sit through that root canal of a comedy. “Community” and “The Office” would remain in place, while new sitcom “Perfect Couples” and Best Sitcom On Television “Parks and Recreation” would get nestled into the 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. slots.
It’s an interesting idea, doubling down on three hours of comedy rather than just dropping a staid one-hour drama into the slot (like their other option, putting some “Law & Order” show there). Movieline thinks this is stupid because the network is doing the same thing they did last year, when they put Leno on at 10. Their argument — that the Leno thing showed people like comedy at 8 and 9 and serious stuff at 10 — is pretty stupid. People aren’t opposed to comedy at 10 p.m.; they’re opposed to bad comedy, which was was why Leno’s show failed. Putting a show with an entrenched fan base (“30 Rock”) that would get DVR’d like the dickens would be further proof that timeslots are irrelevant nowadays; people who watch “30 Rock” would watch it if it aired at 10 p.m. or at 4:37 a.m. on Saturday mornings.
Me, I like the idea. NBC has four of the six best sitcoms on television; why not put them all on one night (even buffered by “Outsourced” and whatever “Perfect Couples” ends up being)? Why not take advantage of built-in fan bases? Plus, anything that gets “Park and Recreation” back on the air is okay with me.
Can you scientifically prove that “30 Rock” is superior to “[expletive deleted] My Dad Says,” its time-slot competitor on CBS? Yes, yes you can. There’s even an infographic!
“30 Rock” was live last night, airing two different versions (one for the East Coast and another for the West Coast). In case you don’t want to watch both versions to see what changed, Vulture has compiled the 17 differences spotted between the two shows. It seems the writers tweaked a few jokes and a couple of deliveries were botched, but it was pretty much the same.
As for the show itself, I wasn’t thoroughly impressed. Sure, it’s impressive they were able to do it, especially considering the show’s famously fast pace and multiple cutaways. (The Julia Lous-Dreyfus gag was one of the best jokes, along with the Chris Parnell and Jon Hamm commercials.) But it really stunk of being like something they just wanted to try to see if they could do it, rather than something that had any real need or brought anything new to the table.
More than anything, it just felt off. It didn’t feel like a live, staged reading of “30 Rock” so much as it felt like a multiple-camera-sitcom version of “30 Rock.” I was reminded more than anything else of that “Scrubs” episode where Zach Braff meets a sitcom writer and imagines life as if it were a four-camera comedy; those scenes are intentionally sitcommy, with a live studio audience, broad gags, overly-lit sets and the unnatural rhythm of pausing between jokes. “Scrubs,” like “30 Rock,” was a single camera comedy that thrived on moving fast and constant cutaways.
If “30 Rock” was trying to do the same thing — showing how bland it would be as a traditional sitcom, rather than a live-action cartoon — it succeeded. It wasn’t terribly funny, but at least it was different.
Last season, NBC seemingly aired the best two hour comedy block they’ve had since…well, ever. (Don’t let your nostalgia for the mid-’90s heyday of “Seinfeld”/”Friends” fool you. There was always one “Caroline in the City” or “Suddenly Susan” wedged in there, both to reap the benefits of the bigger hits and to make “Friends” look even better by comparison.) It was almost astonishing: four different shows, all with different energies and strengths, all airing one after another.
So, clearly, NBC had to find a way to screw that up posthaste. “Parks and Rec” gets booted to the midseason, and they plop “Outsourced” at the end of the block. Which is fine, because as long as it’s safely ensconced at 9:30 p.m. until its mid-November cancellation, we can safely watch the first three-quarters of the comedy block without being subjected to a rhythm-breaking encounter with Anti-Comedy.
[And, by the way, by sheer force of lethargy, I did watch the beginning of "Outsourced." Just to give it a shot. Did you know Indian people sometimes have different names than Amurricans? Did you know they like cows in India? Did you know Indian food could cause gastrointestinal distress? If not, this is the show for you. I'm assuming it didn't do a 180 in the second half and turn into a latter-day "Cheers," right? Because wow.]
After the jump, some quick thoughts on the three remaining gems NBC somehow hasn’t screwed up (yet):