On ‘30 Rock,’ a Show Without Its Star Is ‘So Screwed’

Baldwin and Fey on 30 RockCourtesy of NBC

Last night, 30 Rock producer and writer Tina Fey live-blogged her show’s season finale on NBC.com. She answered viewer questions about what “Blurgh” means; whether Emily Mortimer, Chris Parnell, and Rachel Dratch will be back next year; what it’s like working with Jason Sudeikis; what Fey stole from the SNL set; whether Jack and Liz will ever hook up; performing at Second City; managing family and work; her plans for the summer; her advice for aspiring writers; her proudest moments from the show; why she likes lobster; and what’s on her iPod.

She didn’t answer viewer questions about Alec Baldwin.

Art mirrored life in last night’s episode, though, which resonated with the question hanging over 30 Rock’s head: Will Baldwin, Fey’s embattled co-star, return next season, or will his requests to NBC to be let out of his contract be granted?

On 30 Rock, the star of the show-within-a-show, Tracy Jordan, disappears amid personal crisis and can’t be found anywhere by the frantic staff of The Girlie Show. Liz Lemon (Fey), head writer for the show, attempts to write around Tracy’s absence but acutely feels the pressure of making television without her showcase star. As showtime approaches, Lemon assembles the cast and crew for a pep talk, commending them for coming together in a crisis and ensuring them that the show they’ve cobbled together is one of their best ever. When Tracy barrels through the door, she turns around and gasps, “Oh, thank God, we were so screwed!”

As Tracy Jordan is to “The Girlie Show,” so is Alec Baldwin to 30 Rock — the marquee player who gives the show its energy and fizz. In the episode, Baldwin’s character, Jack Donaghy, rethinks his life after a cardiac event brought on by his horrible mother and fiancée. In the hospital, he confides in Lemon: “All the time I had on this Earth, I have only one regret. I should have worked more.”

This morning on The View, of course, Baldwin, having a crisis of his own, said the opposite: “If I never acted again, I couldn’t care less.” Fey had better hope that Baldwin has a Jack Donaghy–style change of heart. Because if 30 Rock, brilliantly funny but struggling in the ratings, loses Alec Baldwin, they are so screwed.

On ‘30 Rock,’ a Show Without Its Star Is ‘So Screwed’