'Rock' is set in stone for NBC

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"30 Rock" will keep its NBC address for another year.

The network has handed an early second-season pickup to the critically praised but modestly rated freshman comedy created by and starring Tina Fey.

"Emotionally, we were already there," said NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly, who has been a vocal supporter of the single-camera series set behind the scenes of a late-night sketch comedy show.

With the ratings for the show low, he said the network brass carefully examined its options and ran different potential scenarios for next season but realized that "30 Rock" was present in all of them.

"Creatively, strategically and scheduling-wise, we came to the conclusion that the show will be coming back," Reilly said.

He hopes that an early pickup will boost the ratings for the NBC Universal TV Studio/Broadway Video show.

"We feel that there is a big underlying pool of viewers who have heard of the show but haven't committed, not sure if they should give it their time," Reilly said. "This extra endorsement by the network would allow them to commit."

For the past few months, "Rock" has aired as part of NBC's "Comedy Night Done Right" Thursday comedy block. Next season, "Rock" will either stay on Thursday or go as a companion to a big-concept self-starter comedy series that the network is hoping to use to open another comedy night following the "My Name Is Earl"-"The Office" Tuesday model, which helped the Steve Carell-starring series to excel after a low-rated first season.

As for NBC's other critically acclaimed but low-rated freshman series, the drama "Friday Night Lights," Reilly said scheduling issues that have plagued the football-themed series are making the decision more difficult and that the network probably will wait until it has a clearer picture of its new series contenders before sealing the show's fate.

Season to date, "Rock" has averaged a 2.7 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 and 5.8 million viewers overall.

In addition to Fey, the show stars Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Scott Adsit, Jack McBrayer and Judah Friedlander. Lorne Michaels, Fey, JoAnn Alfano, Marci Klein, David Miner and Robert Carlock are the executive producers.
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