12:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'30 Rock' Upfront Special Set at NBC
NBC is (sorta) heading back to 30 Rock.
Following the April 30 Parks and Recreation reunion fundraiser, the network on Tuesday announced a one-off upfront special featuring 30 Rock stars including Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer and more. The hourlong special will air at 8 p.m. July 16 and be ad-free and focus on stories and talent featured in NBCUniversal's 2020-21 season. The pre-recorded scripted special will be rebroadcast across USA, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, Syfy and CNBC as well as available to stream on Peacock on July 17 at 9 p.m.
"We're all happy to have this excuse to (remotely) work together again for NBC," said 30 Rock creators Fey and Robert Carlock. "To quote Kenneth the Page, there are only two things we love in this world, television and everyone."
The 30 Rock special arrives after creator Mike Schur and star/exec producer Amy Poehler reunited the similarly all-star cast of NBC's beloved Parks and Recreation for a special that was produced remotely. The special raised millions for Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund, which helps food banks secure the resources they need to serve the most vulnerable members of their communities.
"At NBCUniversal, we're excited to produce an upfront that reflects a new reality and celebrates our relationship with viewers and advertisers alike," said Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising & partnerships at NBCUniversal. "Historically, this event is about the future of programming; this year, it's about the future of our industry — a future where we can meet audiences wherever they are, with the stories that move them. As the old saying goes … when life hands you Lemon, have her host the upfront!"
The special arrives as May's traditional upfront pitch to advertisers in New York was scrapped in favor of a number of digital presentations from networks like ABC. The primetime special, which sources say will also feature Yaccarino making her pitch, is a way to drive interest and help fill a programming slot at a time when originals have yet to resume production amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"We put our fans first in everything we do at NBCUniversal, so of course our audiences are at the heart of our reimagined upfront experience," said Josh Feldman, executive vp and head of marketing and advertising creative at NBCUniversal. "This very special 30 Rock event will bring together video, advertising and humor to show the world the power of One Platform in a whole new way."
In addition to the stars of 30 Rock, the upfront special will also feature appearances and talent from across NBCUniversal's portfolio as well as promoting new and returning shows at NBC, Telemundo, USA Network, Syfy, E!, Bravo and more. Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video and Fey's Little Stranger will produce the special in association with Universal Television and NBCUniversal Creative Partnerships. Oz Rodriguez (Saturday Night Live) will direct the special.
30 Rock wrapped its seven-season run in January 2013 after 138 episodes. The series about the dysfunctional staff of a fictional live sketch show earned three Emmys for best comedy, among other accolades.
Fey's interest in 30 Rock has not died down in the years since the show wrapped. Sources say NBC's forthcoming Ted Danson comedy Mr. Mayor was originally intended to be a 30 Rock spinoff starring Alec Baldwin as the mayor of New York in the series from Fey and Robert Carlock. Baldwin was in extended negotiations for the better part of a year before pulling out. When L.A.-based Danson declined to move to New York for the part, Fey and Carlock reworked the script to set the show on the West Coast — and remove any connections it had to 30 Rock.
With a path back to production still being ironed out by the guilds, studios and networks, many broadcasters have turned to one-off specials as they look to new and creative avenues to help fill programming voids that were created by the industrywide shutdown. Many of these specials — which often include a fundraising component — have become breakout ratings winners as quarantined audiences look for both a distraction and reflection of their current struggles as forms of entertainment. NBC's head of specials recently spearheaded the One World: Together at Home event that aired across the globe, and the cast of Saturday Night Live produced two At Home episodes.
Broadcast networks are in a challenging predicament as many scripted shows had their seasons cut short, creating scheduling voids heading into the summer and, now, fall. While various states, including California, have given the OK to resume production, it's unclear when work can truly begin as safety protocols are still being ironed out.