30 Rock, like Kenneth Parcell, is immortal. It’s been four years since the show went off the air, but its legacy and influence remain. Plus, comedy lovers quote the show every day.
Although Tina Fey fans miss this perfect series dearly, they still have the two other shows in the Tina Fey empire: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Great News. Oh, and every time Fey gives and interview or appears on a talk show, it’s guaranteed to make you laugh till you cry.
Fey co-created Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in 2015 with Robert Carlock, who was a writer and executive producer on 30 Rock. In 2017, Tina Fey brought us Great News, which she executive produces. The series was created by 30 Rock writer Tracey Wigfield, and although Fey doesn’t write on it, it unquestionably bears her stamp.
We know you mutter “blerg” to yourself daily and constantly look up YouTube clips of funny moments that pop into your head. And so, to feed your 30 Rock obsession, here are 15 Things You Never Knew About 30 Rock.
Don’t be surprised if some of this trivia ties into Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Great News: Fey is well-known for planting Easter eggs and creating connections across the Tina Fey universe.
15. The names of Liz’s boyfriends are Easter eggs
Liz Lemon’s boyfriends throughout the show have meaningful names that serve as inside jokes and Easter eggs.
Floyd Debarber (Jason Sudeikis) is named after Floyd the Barber, a character on The Andy Griffith Show.
Wesley Snipes (Michael Sheen) has the same name as the actor Wesley Snipes. It’s a running joke on the show that it’s absurd for a nebbish white man to have the name name as a black action movie star.
Carol Burnett (Matt Damon) is named for legendary female comedian Carol Burnett. Tina Fey has spoken about her love for the star, who inspired her to go into comedy.
Finally, Criss Chros (James Marsden) is named after Christopher Cross, the American easy listening singer, but also brings to mind the cheesy hip-hop group Kriss Kross. Jack makes fun of Liz for dating someone who spells his name in such a counter-intuitive way. Liz even sings a made-up Christopher Cross-style song in the episode “Floyd.”
14. Steve Buscemi, Paul Feig, and Robert Carlock directed episodes
Actor Steve Buscemi had a recurring role on 30 Rock as Lenny Wosniak. In 2009, he directed his first episode, “Retreat to Move Forward”. He later directed the acclaimed episode “Leap Day”. He went on to helm the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode “Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!”, a heartfelt half hour of television during which Kimmy loses her virginity to Dong.
Paul Feig, known for directing Bridesmaids, directing and co-writing Ghostbusters (2016), and creating Freaks and Geeks, directed the episode “Cleveland,” in which Floyd takes Liz to his home city of Cleveland to try to convince her to move there with him. He has also directed episodes of Arrested Development and The Office.
Robert Carlock and Tina Fey worked together on 30 Rock before they co-created Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Carlock was a writer and an executive producer on the show. He tried his hand at directing on the episode “Governor Dunston”. He later directed two episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!” and “Kimmy and the Trolley Problem!”.
13. Several writers and directors have worked on all three shows in the Tina Fey empire
Three writers have worked on all the three shows in the “Tina Fey empire”, which consists of 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Great News. Those privileged few are Sam Means, Jack Burditt, and prominent Fey collaborator Robert Carlock.
Burditt and Carlock shared an Emmy nom for best writing for “Hogcock!”, the first part of the two-part 30 Rock series finale. The pair shared another nom for “Kidney Now!” In addition, Burditt received one solo writing nom (“Rosemary’s Baby”, which featured an excellent guest performance by Carrie Fisher) and Carlock received two (“Apollo, Apollo” and “Jack-tor”).
As for directors, there are three that have worked on the trio of shows: Beth McCarthy-Miller, Gail Mancuso, and Ken Whittingham. Out of the trio, McCarthy-Miller has helmed the most 30 Rock episodes (23) and earned three Emmy nominations for directing the show.
12. 30 Rock was originally supposed to be about a cable news show
30 Rock was originally supposed to take place behind the scenes of a cable news show. NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly advised Tina Fey to write what she knew, and she reworked it to be about an SNL-style sketch comedy show. And that’s how TGS with Tracy Jordan (née The Girly Show) was born.
Does the original premise seem familiar? That’s because Tina Fey’s newest show Great News does take place behind the scenes of a cable news show. The show was created by former 30 Rock writer Tracey Wigfield and is executive produced by Fey and Robert Carlock.
Tina Fey will also appear on Great News in season 2. This continues her tradition of having a role on all of the shows in the Tina Fey empire: she has played two different characters on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
11. Sue and Lutz are married in real life
John Lutz played a supporting role on 30 Rock as sadsack TGS writer Lutz, who is the butt of everyone’s jokes. Sue Galloway had a small part as another TGS writer, Sue LaRoche-Van der Hout. With time, she got more of a backstory. She got her first speaking line in season 3. “I never asked anybody for anything,” she told Fast Company of her rise from extra to fully-fledged character, “but I also didn’t try to sneak my way in.”
Before 30 Rock, Lutz was a writer-performer at Chicago’s ImprovOlympic and The Second City. In 2003, he was hired as writer on Saturday Night Live. As for Galloway, she started at Upright Citizens Brigade. The two dated before 30 Rock and eventually got married during the show’s run. The pair also acted in Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s movie Sisters.
10. Season 2 was shorter because of the writers’ strike
Season 2 was shortened due to the effects of the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike. It consisted of just 15 episodes instead of the usual 21-23. Although the strike negatively affected her show, Tina Fey was very supportive of the strikers, even joining picket lines herself.
In addition, the cast of 30 Rock put on a live benefit performance of an as-yet-unaired season 2 episode “Secrets and Lies” at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade Theatre in New York. The show was semi-staged, with the cast holding their scripts. Edie Falco, who guest stars as Jack’s girlfriend Celeste “C.C.” Cunningham, couldn’t be there, but 30 Rock writer and cast member Paula Pell filled in.
9. Jeff Richmond did more than just write the music
Tina Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond was 30 Rock‘s composer, writing the score as well as the hilarious songs. His jazzy score stands out from the music on other shows, but you probably didn’t know that he also executive produced, directed, and even acted on the show.
Richmond cameoed as TGS musician Alfonso Disparioso, often seen at the piano. He tried his hand at directing for the first time while working on 30 Rock. He directed five episodes of the show, one of which was the last episode before the series finale. Director Jeff Richmond is not messing around.
He started out as a producer and climbed the ranks until he became an EP in 2010. He’s been an EP on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt from the start. He also writes the music for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Great News, because what’s a Tiny Fey show without Jeff Richmond music?
8. Alec Baldwin became a producer in season 3
After two seasons of playing Jack Donaghy, Alec Baldwin became a producer on 30 Rock for the rest of its run. What took him so long? The acclaimed actor is selective about what he produces, but of course he would give his blessing to 30 Rock, which gave him one of the greatest roles of his career (arguably the greatest).
Baldwin has executive produced two other notable projects, the first being the documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. Stritch gave a fierce performance as Jack’s difficult mother on 30 Rock, and the doc features behind the scenes moments from her turn on the show, including appearances by Baldwin and Tina Fey. Baldwin’s other high-profile executive producing credit is for Match Game, the celebrity game show he hosts.
7. Alec Baldwin, Jack McBrayer, and Scott Adsit’s characters were written for them
Have you ever felt like Alec Baldwin, Jack McBrayer, and Scott Adsit are perfect for their roles on 30 Rock? That’s because the parts were written expressly for them.
Tina Fey wrote Jack Donaghy with Alec Baldwin in mind, and she was “pleasantly surprised when he agreed to do it.” Fey and Baldwin had first met when she was head writer at Saturday Night Live and he was the week’s host.
She also wrote the part of Pete Hornberger with Scott Adsit in mind. The pair have been friends since they met at Second City in Chicago. Of her Second City friend Jack McBrayer, who plays Kenneth Parcell, she said “I really wanted him for that part and was very happy when no one objected.”
6. 30 Rock didn’t invent EGOT, but it did popularize the term
The first time most of us heard of the term EGOT was when Tracy introduced it to us on 30 Rock. But although the show popularized the term, it did not invent it. The term was coined in 1984 by Miami Vice actor Philip Michael Thomas.
The Atlantic writes: “In an interview with the Associated Press to discuss Miami Vice, Thomas talked about his plans for future success, which he summarized in four letters: EGOT. ‘That stands for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony,’ he told the reporter, Jerry Buck. ‘Hopefully in the next five years I will win all those awards.'” Thomas even engraved “EGOT”on a gold necklace. To date, the actor has not EGOTed.
In the 30 Rock episode “Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001”, Tracy sees a similar EGOT necklace at a jewelry store. The clerk explains, “That belonged to Philip Michael Thomas, the actor who played Tubbs on Miami Vice,” the salesman tells him. Tracy buys the storied necklace and adopts the dream of EGOTing.
5. Jane Krakowski was pregnant during production
In January 2011, Jane Krakowski announced that she was expecting a baby with her husband, British menswear designer Robert Godley. The show chose not to incorporate a pregnancy for Jenna Maroney into the plot. Robert Carlock joked that this was because “no child should have Jenna Maroney for a mother.”
The series went the “cover an actress’s pregnancy in creative ways” route. For instance, in the season five finale, “Respawn”, Jenna wears a dog costume so her boyfriend Paul can walk her in the park like a pup. Krakowski’s son, Bennett Robert Godley, was born on April 13, 2011.
Tina Fey was also pregnant with her second child during 30 Rock‘s run. Similarly, the show did not write a pregnancy storyline for Liz Lemon. Liz’s dream of having kids comes true in the final season, when she adopts two children with her husband Criss.
4. Jon Hamm auditioned to be Jack Donaghy
In an Entertainment Weekly interview with Tina Fey and Jon Hamm, the latter revealed that he had auditioned for the part of Jack Donaghy. It was early in the process and Tina Fey didn’t even know about it.
But it’s okay, because he became another iconic boss: Mad Men‘s Don Draper. Hamm did find his way to 30 Rock eventually: he played Drew Baird, one of Liz’s boyfriends. Drew seems perfect… until she realizes he’s living in a bubble, receiving preferential treatment from the whole world because of his good looks. And he’s too oblivious to even realize it, until Liz tells him.
3. Amy Poehler’s Bust Magazine cover hangs in Liz’s office
In one of the show’s many fourth wall-breaking moments, Amy Poehler’s Bust Magazine cover hangs on the wall of Liz’s office. Tina Fey revealed this Easter egg in a video tour of the set. “This makes the world collapse a little bit,” she says. “If that’s Amy Poehler, then who am I?” You can clearly see the framed cover in the background of 30 Rock: have fun trying to spot it!
Tina Fey has also been on the cover of Bust Magazine: twice. The first time was in 2004 before Mean Girls even came out, when Fey was making strides at Saturday Night Live. Her return to the pages of Bust came in 2016, when she was the cover girl for the prestigious 100th issue.
2. Many of the writers went on to fame
30 Rock launched four of its writers to fame. A pre-Community Donald Glover was a staff writer on the show, where he also honed his acting skills with small parts, most notably playing young Tracy Jordan in a cutaway gag. In 2009, he booked Community, and went on to create and star in Atlanta.
Writer Kay Cannon went on to pen the screenplay for 2012’s Pitch Perfect. Most recently, she created the show Girlboss, based on Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso’s book #Girlboss.
Hannibal Buress was a writer on 30 Rock and SNL before he achieved fame as a standup and booked a role on Broad City in 2014.
Lastly, after writing on 30 Rock, Tami Sagher joined the writers’ room of Inside Amy Schumer. In 2016, she landed the biggest acting role of her career as one of the leads of Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice, which follows an improv troupe that is torn apart when some members find more success than others.
1. The song “That’s Her” is a parody of theme song for That Girl
The pilot features a short tune called “That’s Her,” which plays as Liz optimistically walks to work. It’s a parody of the theme song for the 1966 TV show That Girl. The two tunes are have similar melodies and lyrics. Both list cutesy words to evoke the essence of the perfect woman. That Girl‘s theme song features lyrics like “Diamonds, Daisies, Snowflakes, That Girl.” 30 Rock‘s parody mimics it: “She’s like a summer sky/A slice of cherry pie/The rarest butterfly/Me, oh, my/That’s her.”
30 Rock has been compared to That Girl and 1970’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show: all three follow an unmarried brunette woman pursuing her career. Tina Fey has spoken about the influence that The Mary Tyler Moore Show had on her while creating 30 Rock.
How many of these 30 Rock facts did you already know? Brag in the comments below!
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