March 6, 2021

NBC Sees a Future for ‘30 Rock,’ Even Without Jack Donaghy

Executives from the show and NBC aren’t sure, but they made it clear in interviews here this week that his departure would not mean an automatic end to the award-winning comedy.

NBC’s new entertainment chairman, Bob Greenblatt, said: “I’d love nothing more than to have Alec for the duration of the show. That’s my goal. Let’s see what we get.”

NBC’s interest in keeping “30 Rock” around for at least one more year after the coming season can be explained by the need for more episodes to enhance the show’s resale value in syndication.

The executive producer of “30 Rock,” Lorne Michaels, was more definitive about a future for the comedy, even if Mr. Baldwin turns down all blandishments to continue. “I would hope he would want to go on,” Mr. Michaels said on Monday. “But we’re going to keep doing the show.”

Not that Mr. Michaels is upset with Mr. Baldwin. The producer said he had already selected the actor to be the host of the “Saturday Night Live” premiere next fall — it will be Mr. Baldwin’s record-setting 16th time as host. (Mr. Michaels said Melissa McCarthy of “Mike and Molly” and the movie “Bridesmaids” is lined up for the second week of “S.N.L.”)

Mr. Greenblatt did open the door to a possible disagreement with Mr. Michaels over the re-entry of “30 Rock” onto NBC’s schedule. The show’s sixth-season premiere has been postponed until midseason because of the pregnancy of its star, Tina Fey.

Asked if “30 Rock” was ensured a spot back on NBC’s successful Thursday night comedy lineup, Mr. Greenblatt said, “That is a good question, and I really don’t have an answer for it.” He added, “Nothing’s written in stone.”

But as far as Mr. Michaels is concerned, it is. “The show will be back on Thursdays,” he said confidently.

NBC already has a question mark hovering over its strongest Thursday night comedy, “The Office.” No one has yet revealed who might replace its longtime star, Steve Carell, as the office manager. No actor has been chosen as the new office boss, though the series hired the veteran actor James Spader to be the outside supervisor from the parent company.

Mr. Spader, who made an indelible impression in last season’s finale, was originally supposed to make only occasional appearances. But one of the show’s writer-producers, B. J. Novak, said the actor was now likely to appear in most, if not all, the episodes of “The Office” in the next season.

“Charisma-wise, he’s the lead,” Mr. Novak said of Mr. Spader’s new position on the show. “He’s great to write for.”

Mr. Greenblatt discussed a few other concerns facing NBC. He denied that Mariska Hargitay, star of the venerable drama “Law Order: SVU,” would appear in only a limited number of episodes next season. “Where did that come from?” he asked, stressing that it “wasn’t the case.” Her character still might segue into a more supervisory role for the police, he said, though even that is “not necessarily going to happen.” The disposition of Ms. Hargitay’s role became more crucial when her co-star Christopher Meloni, decided to leave in May. Mr. Greenblatt said his character’s departure would be addressed but he would not be (fictionally) killed off.

Mr. Greenblatt said no air date had been set for another coming show, a new newsmagazine hosted by the main NBC News anchor, Brian Williams. News executives have said they will have the show ready by November, but Mr. Greenblatt said it would probably be “a little later.”

But he said a definitive date had been selected for the return of the network’s recent breakthrough hit “The Voice.” NBC had already said the show would get the slot following next year’s Super Bowl, but that episode would not necessarily be the premiere of the new season. Now it is certain; Mr. Greenblatt set that date in stone.

He also announced plans to develop a new drama with Dick Wolf, creator of the “Law Order” franchise, this one about firefighters, and addressed one other unfinished element of NBC’s previous programming lineup: the potential for a TV movie that could wrap up the convoluted storyline of the science-fiction drama “The Event.”

“A few weeks ago that was more possible,” Mr. Greenblatt said. But NBC’s sister cable channel Syfy may still order a two-hour movie to wrap up that series, about an alien attempt to conquer Earth, he said. “If it happens, it would definitely be on Syfy,” Mr. Greenblatt said, ruling out space on the NBC prime-time schedule he now runs.

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