30 Rocking Into the Fall: Can NBC's Sole Surviving New Comedy Draw a Bigger Crowd?
So when reporters keep asking how he talked star Alec Baldwin into staying on the SNL-style sitcom 30 Rock, after the exposure of a jarring audio tape capturing him angrily cursing at his teen daughter on a voice mail, Michaels does his best to deflect the question.
"Look, he got a Golden Globe, he got a Screen Actors Guild award...and I think he really wants to see it through," said Michaels, who wouldn't deliver the details of his conversation. "Not unlike SNL, you have a lot of very different kinds of talented people on the show. That much talent leads to...well, it's never dull there."
Talk of behind the scenes diva doings floated through the tour Monday, amid news that Criminal Minds star Mandy Patinkin had decided to leave his show after its best season ever. Baldwin has earned his own reputation for, um, challenging behavior among NBC execs -- a trend which may only intensify in 30 Rock's second season.
Star/creator executive producer Tina Fey was also too savvy to say much on the Baldwin issue, or to gloat over the fact that few critics in the room would have predicted last year that her show would outlast Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 when both shows debuted on NBC trying to depict the life behind-the-scenes of an SNL-type variety show.
Fey, who admitted watching old Mary Tyler Moore show tapes for inspiration, still seemed a little stunned by the news that NBC had hooked Jerry Seinfeld into appearing on 30 rock's first new episode this fall.
Hopefully, regular America might actually find out that we have a show and watch it maybe at least that one time," she said, laughing. No doubt, they could use a little of that Seinfeld magic - despite appearing on a night with critically acclaimed shows such as The Office, Scrubs and My Name is Earl, 30 Rock and the rest still struggle to find an audience -- something even the series' creators can't quite explain.
"I'm a TV junkie and I used to watch (NBC's Must SEE TV)..all of that," said Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence. "It used to be a shit sandwich always...like, three good shows and one giant piece of doo doo. This is actually four good shows...I don't think they've ever had four good comedies in a row (on Thursdays)."
Fey chimed in: "I agree with Bill. I used to see this giant lineup with Cheers and Friends and Frasier and then they'd sneak a couple of the turkey burgers in between."
"Like Caroline in the Shitty?" chimed in Lawrence.
Fey, ever diplomatic, would not play along. "I'm not going to name names."
Now we know why her show's survived so long...