'30 Rock' cast nervous about live episode

Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan (Getty)

Tina Fey: "So much can go wrong" on Thursday's show.


NEW YORK - The "30 Rock" cast is excited ahead of the show's first-ever live episode on Thursday, but a tad nervous about possibly messing up lines, swearing or delays in the flow of the show, cast members said here Tuesday.

Tracy Morgan, widely tipped to be a risk factor given his ability to keep going once in improv mode, said he plans to have some fun, but approaches the special episode with all the professionalism that comes with his "Saturday Night Live" and other experience.

"Seven years of 'SNL' have prepared me for this," he told reporters Tuesday.

"I read the script and I know my lines...I'm going to disappoint a lot of people." Added Morgan: "We are all experienced professionals. We are going to have a good time."

Tina Fey told reporters at NBC Universal's 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters that the team has been talking about a live show since the writers' strike that started in late 2007. Back then, there was a live reading in front of a small audience. "We had a taste of it, but it was not televised," said co-star Jane Krakowski. "That was when we first got the bug to do it."

Discussing her biggest concern, Fey said: "So much can go wrong."

Asked about Morgan specifically, she said: "People have seen him take his shirt off on a morning show...but he's also very professional...he knows when is a time to have fun" and when to be focused.

Asked about her worries, Krakowski said: "I just don't want to be the first one to make a mistake." She later quipped: "Well, there's Tracy," too.

Jack McBrayer, who plays Kenneth, said one challenge will be to deal with reactions from the audience, which the ensemble doesn't usually have and which may delay the show, making time even more unpredictable. Shows typically run several minutes late, cast members said.

But McBrayer said he is more worried that he will break out in laughter -- something he had a reputation for during his time at improv troupe Second City - or get nervous and fidgety, "but Kenneth the page can get away with that." He added: "I'm kind of worried about swearing" more than anything. An NBC spokeswoman said the network will use a five-second delay of its show feed during the Thursday live shows to allow for possible transgressions to be bleeped out.

Most cast members were tight-lipped about rumored special guest stars on Thursday's episode beyond saying old faces may resurface. "There are a lot of fun people showing up...a lot of the friends of 30 Rock that you have seen before are coming to visit," said Krakowski. Fey added later that all guests "are very skilled live."


Only Morgan joked with a TV crew: "Bill Murray is coming in. Bill Cosby is supposed to show up. Big Bird is coming." He later said "we got a bunch of surprises."

As far as plot goes, Fey shared some details, mentioning that her Liz Lemon character, currently in a romantic storyline with a character played by Matt Damon, will be involved in a story where everybody forgets her birthday,

Alec Baldwin's Jack is trying to give up drinking while his fiancee is pregnant and Morgan's Tracy notices how much fun live TV is.

McBrayer said that compared to the East Coast live show, the later West Coast show is scheduled to have a few different references tailored to California/West Coast audiences. But the script has been written to avoid actors and actresses missing cues due to location or costume changes, he added in a hint that the cut-away scenes that "30 Rock" often features will be avoided when possible this Thursday.

Fey said the "30 Rock" team must cram for this week's episode. While usually the shooting happens over the course of several days, this time the crew must practice the rest of the day Tuesday and run through the episode three times on Wednesday before more practice, a dress rehearsal and the two live shows on Thursday, she said. Krakowski said her theater background will hopefully help her turn it on and off several times in one day, which is challenging. "You get the high adrenaline, then take a break and then you got to do it again," she said.

And Fey said the whole experience will be more like a multi-camera sitcom a la "Friends," something she hasn't done before.

McBrayer said he enjoyed being at the real 30 Rock for a change rather than the typical Long Island City studio. "We have shot for years, and now we are actually here," he said.

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