October 12, 2010 / 9:41 PM / 9 years ago

"30 Rock" cast preps for thrill of live TV episode

NEW YORK (Reuters) - TV industry spoof “30 Rock” is going out live for the first time this week, and the improv-happy cast on Tuesday was almost giddy at the prospect of things going wrong.

Tina Fey (C) stands with the cast and crew of "30 Rock" as they accept the award for best comedy series at the 61st annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California September 20, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files

“So much can go wrong, but I came up through improv at Second City (sketch theatre company) and there’s a certain thrill to things going wrong,” Emmy-winning executive producer and star Tina Fey told reporters.

Like a typical “30 Rock” episode there will be three different stories, said Fey, with one pegged around her character Liz Lemon’s 40th birthday.

“One story is that no-one has remembered Liz’s birthday, another is that Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Badwin) has tried to give up drinking while his fiancee is pregnant — and he’s not enjoying that — and there’s another story with Tracy Morgan making some discoveries about how fun it is to act up on live TV,” said Fey.

Matt Damon and “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm are widely expected to guest star in Thursday’s live episode on NBC, which was first inspired by the cast putting on a live benefit show during the 2008 Hollywood writers’ strike.

The cast will perform one show for the U.S. east coast broadcast, and do it all over again for the west coast three hours later.

Fey, and “30 Rock” actor Tracy Morgan, are “Saturday Night Live” sketch show veterans; Baldwin has hosted SNL more than a dozen times, and actress Jane Krakowski is a Broadway veteran.

Morgan, who plays the unpredictable star of the variety show depicted on “30 Rock”, is expected to be the wild card for the live performance as well.

Impromptu swearing and timing are also concerns. Taped episodes usually run several minutes long and are cut before airing. Audience laughter is also hard to gauge.

“Another character is going to be there and that’s the live audience, and it does change the timing,” said Krakowski.

There will also be “outlandish costumes” as Krakowski’s and Morgan’s characters will play other roles within the show.

“I come from the theater world and usually the second performance is the one where usually things go wrong,” she said. “It’s going to be really exciting, I think the adrenaline is going to be crazy high that day.”

Jack McBrayer, who plays page Kenneth Parcell, worries that “sometimes if we mess up lines or something, a knee-jerk reaction is to swear. I’m kind of worried about swearing.”

The live episode will be broadcast from the Rockefeller Center in New York, the home of TV network NBC and “Saturday Night Live”.

Editing by Jill Serjeant

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