'30 Rock' Live: On the scene at the dress rehearsal

tina-fey SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen tonight’s live episode of 30 Rock, avert your eyes, click back and don’t read this until you have!

For those who did, we can share all the behind-the-scenes scoop we collected during the dress rehearsal for tonight’s taping. Let’s begin!

Like any live show, the night kicked off with a warm-up comic, Joey Kola, who got things rolling with topical humor (Chilean miners + Lindsay Lohan = should we laugh?) before introducing some very special musical guests.

In a welcome surprise, the show’s Cheyenne Jackson and Jane Krakowski each took their turn to belt out a tune—Jackson with Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” (boy has lungs!) and Krakowski with a saucy rendition of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” But Krakowski had a near wardrobe malfunction when the belt on her dress popped off for a quick second, right before she launched into the iconic Tina Turner jig.

Musical numbers aside, the actual rehearsal wasn’t so much practice as it was an exact run-through. No scripts held during scenes, barely any mistakes — only Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin seemed to make noticeable flubs — and of course production left time for commercials.

And even though we knew Matt Damon and Jon Hamm would be appearing in tonight’s episode, we didn’t see them, or perfectly cast guest star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, during the cast introduction or initial hub-bub before taping — only when their scenes was being prepped. Off screen, Damon rehearsed lines before the airport scene and had some laughs while watching the rest of the cast’s bits.

Liz-Dr. Drew lovers will agree that it was sad not to see Tina Fey and Hamm get screen time together, but the Mad Men actor and Bill Hader, who played co-pilot to Damon, had their own fun, goofing around right up until cameras rolled for the SNL-style goodbye.

Everything else, on the other hand, seemed to move at lightning speed, whether it was getting Krakowski out of her Fox News anchor wig or whisking Louis-Dreyfus to a different set piece. Speaking of the Seinfeld star, when she moved to the stage for the goodbye, she nearly slipped on the pulverized cake on the ground. Fortunately, a confectionary crisis was averted.

Of course we looked for famous faces in the audience, and the only one we could spot was Baldwin’s brother Stephen, who sat front and center. Lorne Michaels was also seen milling about behind the cameras. After the show, Maulik Pancholy (Jonathan), Judah Friedlander (Frank) and John Lutz (Lutz) stood in the lobby as the audience passed through to greet their loved ones. Sadly, no Fey, (Alec) Baldwin or Hamm sightings post-show. Blerg!

What did you guys think of the episode? Did 30 Rock pull off the high-risk-often-low-reward TV stunt known as the live episode?

Photo: Art Streiber/NBC

Comments (39 total) Add your comment
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  • tracy bluth

    LOVED Bill Hader’s pilot character! Matt Damon was hilarious as well! I have to say that Jon Hamm got the most laughs… that man is perfect.

  • Sara

    I thought it was great! I lol’d several times!

    • Katja

      I did too! It took me a couple minutes to adjust to the new look and the audience, but once I got used to it I really, really enjoyed it. Then again, I’ve never actually seen a live episode of a usually not-live show before…so maybe that influences my judgment a bit. :) But come on, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Liz Lemon? AWESOME.

  • deedee

    very funny episode; sharp dialogue, well produced; loved JLD! and JH of course!

    • Jaye

      IA! Ep was TF! I LI!!! It WTB! Yay!

      • Abe Froman


  • John

    “The ending where Tina thanked 30 Rock and the crew was terrible.”
    Um… Do you also judge the SNL good-nights? Also, if the applause and laughter ruined it for you, then how was it like watching Mad Men? Logic is your friend.

  • knh

    loved it. all were top form. kudos to Jane for exceptional acting!

  • Andrew

    if i wanted to watch terrible live tv i would have waited till saturday night. they need some new cameramen unless there was an earthquake or something

  • Blue

    It was not a ‘usual’ look for the show….but it had moments of funny. Granted, they were mostly the fake commercials with John Hamm and the Doctor, but the harsh lighting, awkward pauses for laughter (or not) and simple sets really took the polish off of it. 30 Rock makes us feel like we have an insiders view of an NBC show, this made us feel like watching a spinoff of Threes Company. Matt Damon did have the best scenes of the night….with a nod to Julia Louis Dreyfuss…but I prefer the pace/style of the non-live show.

  • Dana

    enjoyed it more than I thought I would

  • ShockPop08

    It was great! Left me wanting more!

  • liketheshoe

    I couldn’t disagree more. I thought it was hysterical. Great television.

  • JD


  • Jerry Seinfeld

    Wow LD great job at sitting around to be the first comment. Honestly, you make me sad that you can’t just enjoy a fun and entertaining show. It was a LIVE show therefore a LIVE audience, god forbid they clap or applaud. Great episode.

    LD swallow the sword and get a life

    • jimmy

      Eat the sword!!

  • gah

    it was hilarious! i laughed loud – when JLD was shown for the first time, “why are you speaking like a persian immigrant”, and “its dangerous to say no to an old spinster.” I’m glad we got to see tracy’s belly and that we didn’t see jenna’s nipple (the big one). overall i thought it was great.

  • stephenKC

    Cute, adorable and funny. My only quibble is that they called this “30 Rock.” A more apt description would have been to call this a “special 30 Rock-themed episode of SNL.” The tone, the look, the audience, everything screamed SNL. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Enjoyable 30 minutes, 30 Rock cast and writers — many thanks!

    • Blue

      or maybe “Live TGS with behind the scenes footage”

  • Lutz

    Way too many Kenneths on this page! It was okay. (Nice to see Julia Louis Dreyfus though.)

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