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McFlurrygate: 30 Rock is lovin’ it, but not making money from it


just wanted to weigh in on the 30 Rock/McDonald’s scandal.

That’s tongue-in-cheek there. I didn’t have a problem at all with McDonald’s and its McFlurry dessert being featured so prominently in last week’s episode.

To me, product placement is not only a sign of these challenging, DVR-dominant times. Advertisers have to get their message across or the networks can’t stay in business. And as long as the placement fits the story, which it did in this case, I have no problem with it. It’s when it stands out — i.e. Nissan’s heavy-handed Heroes placements from season 2 or any mention of Staples on The Office — that I get bugged.

But 30 Rock has been masterful with placements. Think of Tina Fey raving about her Verizon phone before breaking the fourth wall by turning to the camera and asking if they could have their money now. Even better was the Snapple mentions — I’m still not sure if that was satire or actual placement — in Season 1’s “Jack-tor” that featured a guy in a Snapple bottle costume.

All that said, it turns out the McDonald’s placement wasn’t a placement at all. The characters of Jack and Elisa just really like McFlurry’s.

Here’s a statement Tina Fey issued last week.

“It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the references to McDonald’s in last night’s episode of 30 Rock were in no way product placement. (Nor were they an attempt at product placement that fell through.) We received no money from the McDonald’s Corporation. We were actually a little worried they might sue us. That’s just the kind of revenue-generating masterminds we are.

“Also, the upcoming story line where Liz Lemon starts dating Grimace is just based on a recurring dream I have.

“Seriously, though, it’s not product placement.”

Self-deprecation aside, that’s pretty lame that they gave the Golden Arches so much airtime and couldn’t figure out how to milk some revenue out of that. No wonder NBC is hurting so badly.

Posted by Brian Howard on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 10:15 am |
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Looking ahead at The Office and 30 Rock, a little spec and a Bale-esque rant


We’re getting a three-week hiatus from The Office and, apparently, from 30 Rock.

“Lecture Circuit, Pt. 2,” the sequel to last week’s Office cliffhanger, airs tomorrow night and we get to see what becomes of Michael and Pam’s jaunt to Nashua where Michael (Steve Carell, pictured with his real-life “Holly” Nancy Walls) will seek closure from Holly. Here’s what NBC says we can expect…

Michael and Pam continue their tour of the branches with Michael taking a lesson from their visit to Utica. Dwight and Jim struggle to fulfill their new party planning duties with a grumpy staff. Angela’s new cat causes a stir.

That sounds pretty good, but you know what? I think I can do better. Here’s my prediction of how this plays out, at least from Michael’s perspective…

Michael arrives in Nashua. In typical melodramatic fashion, he sprints from the car before Pam can even come to a full stop. He bangs on the outside doors, even though Dunder Mifflin is on the second floor, and screams, “Holly! I neeeedd clooooosurrrrree!!! And I want to squeeeeeeeeze theeeemmmmm!!!” (Callback to “The Job” from Season 3)

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Brian Howard on Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 at 11:08 am |
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30 Rock recap: Retreat to Move Forward (or something)


I thought by going on record with my resolution to stop procrastinating on my 30 Rock recaps that I wouldn’t possibly allow myself to do so again.

And yet, I did. So here I am, five days later, having never shared with you, my reading public, my thoughts on “Retreat to Move Forward.” And I can’t imagine you still care. But I’m going to share anyway, because that’s what blogging is about, right?

But I’ll keep it short.

I loved the revival of GE’s Sixth Sigma program from Season 1. I wonder which writer on the staff has been dying for two years to spin that into an entire episode, like they did with last week’s retreat to sunny Croton-on-Hudson.

Having grown up two towns over, I can attest that what happens there stays there.

And I loved learning what the six sigmas are: they’re execs, each with their own philosophy they represent: teamwork, insight, brutality, male enhancement, handshakefulness and play hard.

Few things are more surreal than watching Jack pump himself up in the mirror. He really does have mommy issues, but they’re nothing like Liz’s. Did she just call herself a bitch? 

Feeling guilty about ditching her with the nerds, Jack does some team-builing Lego project with Liz for CLASS, which is actually lunch. It might have ended well if she hadn’t made those lewd gestures with their sculpture. That sigma guy was right, the old Jack wouldn’t have tolerated her robot member antics.

And how funny was it that Liz showed up at Jack’s room with two omelets, both for her. Read more of this entry »

Posted by Brian Howard on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 11:57 am |
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Your weekly Office/30 Rock preview


Can I call it a weekly preview even if I’ve never combined them before and don’t necessarily preview either show a lot of weeks?

To paraphrase the president, yes I can. (Also, Malia, don’t touch that red phone, sweetie.)

I have to admit, Thursday nights wear me out. Yes, a TV blogger is whining about TV blogging. But hear me out. I recap both 30 Rock and The Office, and I can’t start watching either until 9, and they’re not over until 10. Factor in time for pausing the DVR while I scribble down funny quotes and any inspired musings I may have, and it’s closer to 10:30 before I start recapping.

Most times my plan is to recap one that night, usually The Office, and recap the other, usually 30 Rock, on Friday morning. Most times, this plan falls through because I put off both until Friday, when real work keeps me from getting to at least one of them. Then I post one or both a few days later (and every now and again not at all).
So I’ve tried to scale back my ambitions. Read more of this entry »

Posted by Brian Howard on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
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Golden Globes honor ’30 Rock,’ ‘Mad Men’


Sure, the big news out of last night’s Golden Globes was all about the surprise score by “Slumdog Millionaire,” Heath’s posthumous honor and Kate’s double win.

And while all that was definitely cool, let’s not forget that some of Hollywood’s little people snagged some trophies, too.

“30 Rock” triumphed with a trifecta: Best Comedy Series, Best Actress in a Comedy (for Tina Fey) and Best Actor in a Comedy (for Alec Baldwin). Plus, Tracy Morgan delivered what might be one of the best acceptance speeches ever: ” I’m the face of post-racial America. Deal with it, Cate Blanchett!”

As for dramas, “Mad Men” came out on top, as did Anna Paquin of “True Blood” and Gabriel Byrne of “In Treatment.” And when it comes to miniseries, let’s just say that pretty much anyone associated with “John Adams” or “Recount” walked away a winner.

Go here to check out the rest of the winners, and read on for my take on the Top 5 greatest – and weirdest – comments by TV stars on and off the red carpet…

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Heather Salerno on Monday, January 12th, 2009 at 9:09 am |
| | 1 Comment »

30 Rock recap: Señor Macho Solo marks an encouraging return


I’ll be honest. Before last night I’d about had it with 30 Rock‘s guest stars.

I never thought I’d say it, because the show had always been so brilliant about weaving them in, but by last fall I felt like Tina Fey and Co. had hit a wall with the stuntcasting and it was time to get back to basics.

That said, Salma Hayek and Peter Dinklage brought a lot to the table in last night’s episode, “Señor Macho Solo.”

Jack found love — again. Liz found that little someone who could take her mind off babies, or so she thought. Tracy found that he didn’t need gold shoes and money shirts to keep his love by his side. And Jenna found that you don’t need the rights to a star’s name, music or likeness to launch a convincing biopic.

You just need a chunk of my love.

Here’s what I liked. Every scene with Hayek was a pleasure to watch. She’s as funny as she is pretty with her McDonald’s references and authoritative, rapid Spanish. Tracy Morgan continues to carry the show, as he has all season. (I totally have to catch his movie A Blaffair to Rememblack.) And Jane Krakowski continues to amaze with the kind of comic fearlessness that is almost extinct on TV. And she is sleepy!

I laughed hard at this one, and that’s all I ever expect from this show. When it delivers a little emotion and relatability to boot, that’s great. It hasn’t for a while now, and Tina Fey ought to be looking hard at why that might be. But funny’s enough for now, even if future guest stars do come up short. (That was not a Dinklage joke, I swear!)

Watch the full episode after the jump, followed by a detailed recap.

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Brian Howard on Friday, January 9th, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
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Salma Hayek crosses networks to stop by 30 Rock, and she’s not even tonight’s most interesting guest star


Did you know 30 Rock returns tonight?

I admit I pretty much forgot that it does. It’s been a while, right? But all those “Salma Hayek stops by 30 Rock” sailing through my e-mail in-box in the last couple days should have tipped me off.

Now I like Salma Hayek a lot, but she’s not what has me looking forward to plopping down in front of the TV at 9:31 p.m. ET the most. Here’s the episode summary for Senor Macho Solo…

Jenna is concerned that Liz’s attraction to a new guy (guest star Peter Dinklage) has to do with her longing to have a child. Jack is keeping busy as he helps Tracy and wife Angie arrange a “post-nup,” and tries to get Jenna an audition for the title role in a Janis Joplin biopic. Plus, he finds time to hit it off with his mother’s nurse, Elisa (guest star Salma Hayek).

It was more than eight months ago that I reported on a conference call with Tina Fey in which she joked that Dinklage “would make a great love interest” for Liz Lemon. She thinks it and it happens. Pretty impressive.

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Brian Howard on Thursday, January 8th, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
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Ripped: 30 Rock’s Torn faces drunken driving charges…again


Things had been so quiet at 30 Rock.

Tracy Morgan hasn’t worn an ankle bracelet in a while. Alec Baldwin hadn’t left any lengthy voicemails for anyone. But Rip Torn, who plays GE CEO Don Geiss, has disturbed the calm with his third drunken driving arrest in five years.

Torn, 77, pleaded not guilty in Litchfield, Conn., to charges filed following a Dec. 14 traffic stop.

This comes just two years after his car struck a tractor-trailer on Hardscrabble Road in North Salem. He pleaded guilty to driving while impaired, paid a fine and surrendered his license for three months.

Apparently the lesson went unlearned.

Police say Torn was driving in the breakdown lane in his 1994 Subaru with a Christmas tree tied to the top.

He failed part of a field sobriety exam, then gave up after saying the ground wasn’t level enough, state police said. He also refused to take a Breathalyzer test and used profanity while in the trooper’s cruiser, police said.

Just, wow.

I can’t decide which is the best part, the Christmas tree on the roof or the claim that the ground wasn’t level enough.

This is a guy who beat a 2004 drunken driving rap in Manhattan following a fender-bender with a taxi. So he’s 1-for-2 in these cases and is due back in court Jan. 28 for the tiebreaker.

(Photo: The Journal News)

Posted by Brian Howard on Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
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Rocky times at 30 Rock? At least the awards keep coming


There are good days, and then there are bad days. Looks like Tina Fey is having both kinds today.

Even as the Associated Press is lauding her as Entertainer of the Year, deservedly so, the gossip sites are touting a scurrilous report of a nasty rift developing between Fey and 30 Rock co-star Alec Baldwin.

They all point to a Star magazine report that I’d link to but it doesn’t work. At least it didn’t at this writing. Your mileage may vary.

Anyway, here’s the gist. It starts with a snarky Baldwin comment at a photo shoot about airbrushing, a seemingly harsh reference to Fey’s once mysterious facial scar that her husband recently revealed was the result of a childhood assault. Celebuzz continues…

Tina retorted, “Something wrong with my face?”

“Tina shot back that this was coming from a guy with a double chin who thinks Sarah Palin is hot,” a set source tells Star. “Alec was steamed about it the rest of the day and had words with Tina about it later.”

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Brian Howard on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
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SAG Award noms bring some familiar matchups while Office workers moonlight and Salma Hayek goes deep


So the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations were released the other day, and the comedy match-ups are pretty familiar.

It’s not surprising the same names keep coming up in these contests, since there are so few comedies on TV these days.

As usual, Alec Baldwin and the cast of 30 Rock go up against Steve Carell and the cast of The Office in the Outstanding Actor and Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series categories, respectively.

There’s every possibility, however unfair, that Jeremy Piven and the cast of Entourage could send both home winless.My money’s on Baldwin and The Office. My heart is on Carell and 30 Rock.

Weeds is up in the comedy series category, too, as is star Mary Louise Parker for Outstanding Actress, though my heart and money are on Tina Fey, but only by a little.

The 15th Annual SAG Awards airs Jan. 25 on TNT and TBS.

Speaking of SAG, by the way, OfficeTally has sifted through and pulled out all the Office folks from the list of some 130 actors opposing a strike by the union. Really? After what a hoot last year’s WGA strike was?

One curious omission struck me: Jenna Fischer. Read more of this entry »

Posted by Brian Howard on Friday, December 19th, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
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30 Rock: Christmas Special Pre-cap


Yes, I said “pre-cap” because I haven’t had a chance to watch this one yet.

Reviews I’ve spotted, formal and informal, indicate it blew The Office‘s holiday episode out of the water, so my hopes are high. I’ll give it a gander later today, hopefully and post a true recap then. For now though, here’s the complete episode, courtesy of Hulu and Remote Access.

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And just a quick news note, Jennifer Aniston seems to be planting the idea of her assuming a permanent role as the crazy stalker she portrayed a few weeks ago. The trial balloon shows up in and a GQ interview referenced here.

No offense to her, I’m an Aniston fan, but she didn’t work for 22 minutes on this show, so I don’t see how a regular spot would work.

Posted by Brian Howard on Friday, December 12th, 2008 at 10:54 am |
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‘In Treatment,’ ’30 Rock,’ ‘Mad Men’ lead Golden Globe nods


The 2009 Golden Globes were announced this morning, and in the TV categories, the big winners were the cable networks.

Of the 10 nominees for Best Comedy and Drama series, seven air on pay or basic cable channels.

In comedy, the nominees are: “30 Rock” (NBC); “Californication” (Showtime); “Entourage” (HBO); “The Office” (NBC); “Weeds” (Showtime).

For drama, the nominees are: “Dexter” (Showtime); “House” (FOX); “In Treatment” (HBO); “Mad Men” (AMC); “True Blood” (HBO).

HBO’s “In Treatment” was the big surprise of the TV nominees, scoring a total of 5 nods, including Best Actor for Gabriel Byrne and Best Supporting Actress for Dianne Wiest.

The recent Emmy winner for outstanding drama – AMC’s “Mad Men” – received 3 nominations. Fans’ beloved Don Draper himself (Jon Hamm) made the list, of course, but so did Don’s long-suffering wife, Betty (January Jones, who is, no doubt, saying “Suck it!” to the Emmy voters who overlooked her in September).

As far as other TV actresses go, Anna Paquin’s nomination for her role in HBO’s vampire romance, “True Blood,” was also a bit of a shocker. The series was recognized as well.

And in the comedy categories, Tina Fey continued her march toward world domination: She and “30 Rock” co-star Alec Baldwin were nominated, as well as the series.

As for HBO’s “Entourage,” we wonder if Jeremy Piven will continue his lucky streak: He snagged his third Emmy for playing hyperactive agent Ari Gold last fall, and he may just repeat last year’s Golden Globe win. Interestingly, though, co-star Kevin Connolly was nominated in the Best Comedy Actor category, while Piven stayed in the supporting actor group.

Go here to find out who else was nominated from your favorite TV shows – and movies, too (Heath Ledger got a much deserved posthumous nod for playing the Joker in the summer blockbuster, “The Dark Knight”).

Looking over this list of worthy adversaries, all I have to say is this: Who says there’s nothing good on TV?

Posted by Heather Salerno on Thursday, December 11th, 2008 at 10:10 am |
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30 Rock recap: Liz’s Reunion marks a return to funny form


Spoiler Alert! Details about tonight’s 30 Rock to follow…

Tonight’s 30 Rock is a return to form, a resuscitation of a floundering sitcom that puts four weeks of Oprah, adoption and idiotic Steve Martin antics to rest and reminds you why you used to love this show.

It is, to steal a phrase from your immediate viewing future, like the funniest guy on the elevator. (Trust me, that’ll make sense in a few hours.)

I lamented (whined?) yesterday about my dissatisfaction with this season so far. It has been pretty funny but also pretty uninteresting. The guest stars have been over the top and unnecessary, taking me out of the show like a bad distraction. It has seemed like Tina Fey has been suffering a Palin hangover instead of riding the tidal wave of popularity her impressions of the Alaska guv gave her to boomtown ratings.

Viewership is up so far over last year, but probably not as up as the Peacock suits were hoping.

Well, here’s some advice: do more of what you did to put together “Reunion,” tonight’s hilarious trip back in time to Liz Lemon’s high school days. What a geek she was! No wait, she was a bully, a spiteful, snarky, mean bully who pushed people away and left them scarred. Read more of this entry »

Posted by Brian Howard on Thursday, December 4th, 2008 at 1:09 pm |
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