While host Brian Williams poses for photos with Jack McBrayer, who plays with Kenneth, the rest of the Rockers nosh on chicken teriyaki dumplings and risotto with pear, gorgonzola and pine nuts.
Why is the show created by, written by and starring Tina Fey so popular?
“I do feel that the people who like this show really like it, and feel passionate about it, which makes me happy because we really care about it,” Tina tells me. “The people who make it really love these characters, and I love to go on Television Without Pity and read comments from people who really pay attention and seem to care about the show as much as we do.”
What about the writers’ strike?
“It’s affecting us because we can’t film right now, which is very sad,” Jane Krakowski, who plays Jenna, tells me. “We’re all missing being at work. We got to film ten episodes, which was as many as we had pre-written before the strike began. They were so fun to do, and we’re just hoping the strike ends soon. I really believe in what the writers are fighting for, and that way we can get back to work.”
A red carpeteer tells me he fears he scared away Katrina Bowden, who plays Cerie, with his dragon breath courtesy of that kebab he ate for lunch. “I could see it hitting her hair,” he moans. Waah! 30 Rock’s resident sexpot says being called beautiful is “very flattering, but I don’t dress like that in real life.” In fact, she tells me she’s nothing like her character. “She’s fun, she’s lighthearted, not like myself at all. I’m very ambitious and driven. It reminds me of a lot of people I knew in high school and I know in real life.”
Keith Powell, who plays Toofer, tells me his dream guest is Bill Clinton. “I’d like Bill Clinton to play the guy who seduces everyone,” he says. “Including me. He can seduce me, that’s all right. I’ll go on record to say that. Have you met that man? I get lost in his eyes. You shake his hand and you feel like you’re the only person in the room together. It’s like ‘I’ll go anywhere with you.’ It’s no wonder that guy was so popular as a president through impeachments and stuff.”
Judah Friedlander, who plays Frank, lives for lunches in the cafeteria with the cast, including Tina and Alec Baldwin. “There’s no attitude,” he tells me. “No one’s off in their trailer just being by themselves. Everyone’s with everybody.”
What’s the best thing to eat?
“It’s really good,” Judah says. “They always mix it up. There’s always different stuff. I’m trying to watch the weight, and it’s hard because they always have such good stuff there. You could just eat all day. It’s pretty rough. I can’t resist anything. They have cookies out all day, desserts. If we shoot real late – often we do 14, 16-hour days – they’ll order in pizza. You can just eat a whole pie of pizza. You’ve gotta be careful. You can put a lot of weight on filming 30 Rock.”
Speaking of weight, Scott Adsit, who plays Pete, tells me he knew Tina during her – er — bigger days.
“Tina’s the best,” he says. “Obviously smart and funny and very sweet, and believe it or not, vulnerable. I know her from when she was a very mousy girl coming in and joining our cast at Chicago’s Main Stage. She was wearing a big, puffy, powder blue down jacket and her big glasses that were bigger than her head. Her bob haircut. About 30 pounds heavier. She was very shy and reserved until she got onstage and she started writing and she became what we know as Tina now. I’ve seen her cry.”
He adds, “I’ve known her for many years, and we’ve worked together many times. I just can’t think of anyone else I’d rather work with. I knew that in Chicago. I said ‘this is someone I could work with for the rest of my life.’ Hopefully we will. She has an image of being so smart that she isn’t human. She’s so busy and so responsible and so adept.”
Due to the writers’ strike, 30 Rock is fresh until the beginning of January. Let’s hope they work it out. As Keith tells me, “My bank account needs it.”