Pilot (30 Rock)

Pilot (30 Rock)

Infobox Television episode
Title = Pilot
Series = 30 Rock
Season = 1
Episode = 1
Airdate = October 10, 2006
Production = 101
Writer = Tina Fey
Director = Adam Bernstein
Guests = Katrina Bowden
Tom Broecker
Teddy Coluca
Tabbie Conrad
Gary Cowling
Rachel Dratch
Kevin Dorff
Anita Durst
Maulik Pancholy
Keith Powell
Emana Rochelle
Lonny Ross
Ciaran Tyrell
Alison White
Episode list = "30 Rock" (season 1)
List of "30 Rock" episodes

Caption= Tracy makes his first appearance on "The Girlie Show"
Photographer=Tom Houghton
Mike Trim
Next = The Aftermath

The pilot episode of the American situation comedy series "30 Rock" premiered on October 10, 2006 on the CTV Television Network in Canada,cite web |url=http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/show/CTVShows/20060814/Fall2006Schedule/20060816/ |title=Fall 2006 Premiere Dates |accessdate=2008-03-07 |publisher=CTV Television Network] and October 11, 2006 on NBC in the United States.cite news |first=Neil |last=Wilkes |title=NBC announces Fall premiere dates |url=http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/a35158/nbc-announces-fall-premiere-dates.html |publisher=Digital Spy |date=2006-07-23 |accessdate=2008-06-04] The episode was directed by Adam Bernstein and written by Tina Fey, the series' creator, executive producer, and lead actor.cite web |url=http://tv.yahoo.com/30-rock/show/pilot/episode/95644 |title="30 Rock" "Pilot" |accessdate=2008-08-03 |publisher=Yahoo]

In 2002, Tina Fey, then head writer of "Saturday Night Live" ("SNL"), pitched the idea for a series about a cable news network to NBC, who rejected it. Two years later, Fey approached NBC with a similar idea: a behind-the-scenes look at "The Girlie Show", a television show similar to "SNL". NBC approved the series in May 2006 and production began shortly after.cite news |first=Eric |last=Goldman |title=Upfronts Announcement: NBC's Schedule for 2006–2007 Season |url=http://uk.tv.ign.com/articles/708/708855p2.html |publisher=IGN |date=2006-05-15 |accessdate=2008-04-01] Although the episode received generally positive reviews, it finished third in its timeslot among all viewers and among adults aged 18 to 49. Critics praised the performances of Jack McBrayer and Jane Krakowski, who played Kenneth Parcell and Jenna Maroney, respectively.

Several characters are introduced in the pilot: Liz Lemon (Fey), the head writer of the fictional sketch comedy series "The Girlie Show"; Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), the network executive; Kenneth Parcell (McBrayer), the NBC page; and the writing staff and cast of Lemon's show. This episode focuses on Jack's attempt to convince Liz to hire film star Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) as part of the cast of "The Girlie Show" and the crew's reactions to Tracy's addition.


The show begins with Liz Lemon, the head writer of the fictional television series "The Girlie Show", attempting to buy a hot dog before work. After a fellow commuter begins an argument, Liz buys $150 worth of hot dogs and distributes them to random passersby, hobos, and colleagues. When she arrives at work, she is embarrassed when she is forced by Kenneth, the naїve NBC Page who conducts tours around 30 Rock, to introduce herself to a group of "Girlie Show" fans.

Liz and her producer Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit) meet with "The Girlie Show"'s new network executive Jack Donaghy. Jack tells Liz and Pete that he has been sent to 30 Rock to re-tool "The Girlie Show". After inadvertently insulting her, Liz takes an initial dislike to Jack. Jack asks Liz to hire Tracy Jordan, star of the film "Honkey Grandma Be Trippin"', as part of the cast. Liz is skeptical as Tracy has a history of problematic behaviour, including running down New York State Route 405 in his underwear while shouting "I am a Jedi!" and falling asleep on his neighbour's roof. In comparison to Liz, the narcissistic star of "The Girlie Show", Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) takes to Jack upon their first meeting. She begins to worry when she hears that Tracy may become the new star of the show. Against her own judgment, Liz meets Tracy at a restaurant, but when Tracy discovers that he does not like the food they go to another restaurant. While Liz tried to convince Tracy not to join "The Girlie Show", he discusses conspiracy theories. After the meeting, Tracy offers to take Liz back to the studio, but he makes a detour to a strip club in the Bronx. While trying to get home, Liz learns that Jack fired Pete earlier that day. Tracy and Liz arrive at the studio halfway through the live broadcast of the show. Liz sends Tracy out on stage to talk off the last bit of the show, much to "The Girlie Show" studio audience's delight and Jenna's shock. Backstage, Liz forces Jack to rehire Pete and guarantee Jenna's job.



Tina Fey, the head writer and a performer on NBC's "Saturday Night Live", pitched a pilot episode for a situation comedy about a cable news network to NBC in 2002. NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly, felt that "Fey was using the news setting as a fig leaf for her own experience and [he] encouraged her to write what she knew."cite news|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1535853,00.html|title=Do Not Adjust Your Set|first=James |last=Poniewozik|accessdate=2007-10-16|date=2006-09-18|publisher="Time Magazine"] The pilot, and subsequent series, was reworked to revolve around an "SNL" style series. Fey signed a contract with NBC in May 2003, which allowed her to remain in her "SNL" head writer position until at least the 2004–2005 television season. As part of the contract, Fey was required to develop a primetime project to be produced by Broadway Video, Lorne Michaels' production company, and NBC Universal.cite news |first=Michael |last=Schneider |title=Peacock updates "SNL" anchor's deal |url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117885681.html?categoryid=1236&cs=1&query=tina+fey+snl+2004%2D05 |publisher="Variety" |date=2003-05-05 |accessdate=2008-04-01] During the 2004–2005 pilot season, Fey began developing a pilot project under the working title "Untitled Tina Fey Project". The pilot, which became "30 Rock", centered on the head writer of a variety show and how she managed her relationships with the show's volatile star and executive producer. During development, some characters were altered; a second star of the variety show was added and the executive producer role changed to network executive.cite news |first=Josef |last=Adalian |coauthors=Schneider, Michael |title=Bruck finds "Ring" leader |url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117917293.html?categoryid=1236&cs=1 |publisher="Variety" |date=2005-02-01 |accessdate=2008-04-01]


Fey worked with Jennifer McNamara and Adam Bernstein for the casting of the series. Their first decision was for Fey to portray the lead character, Liz Lemon.cite web |url=http://www.cinemablend.com/television/Interview-Tina-Fey-Talks-About-30-Rock-Part-1-9723.html |title=Interview: Tina Fey Talks About "30 Rock" (Part 1) |accessdate=2008-07-08 |author=West, Kelly|date=2008-04-01 |publisher=Cinema Blend] Fey acknowledged similarities between Liz and her own life when she became head writer on "SNL", primarily a heavy focus on her job. [cite video |people=Fey, Tina |date2=2008-05-01 |month2= |year2= |title=Ask Tina: 5/1/08 |url=http://www.nbc.com/30_Rock/video/clips/ask-tina-5108/243935/ |format= |medium= |publisher=NBC.com |location=New York |accessdate=2008-08-26 |time= |quote= ] Fey asked one of her castmates on "SNL", Tracy Morgan, to play Tracy Jordan.cite news |coauthors= |title=NBC comedy a reunion for Morgan, Fey |url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001657605 |publisher="The Hollywood Reporter" |date=2005-12-01 |accessdate=2008-04-01] Morgan believed the role was "right up [his] alley and it was tailor made for [him] ",cite web |url=http://au.tv.ign.com/articles/736/736916p1.html |title=IGN Interview: "30 Rock's" Tracy Morgan |accessdate=2008-07-08 |author=Fickett, Travis|date=2006-10-17 |publisher=IGN] and Fey noted that Tracy Jordan "acts wild" like Tracy Morgan did at "SNL". [cite video |people=Fey, Tina |date2=2006-12-14 |month2= |year2= |title=Ask Tina: 12/14/2006|url=http://widgets.nbc.com/o/4727a250e66f9723/48b470a1c746e953/4741e3c5156499a7/a6ab247c |format= |medium= |publisher=NBC.com |location=New York |accessdate=2008-08-26 |time= |quote= ]

Fey wrote the character of naїve NBC page Kenneth Parcell with her friend Jack McBrayer in mind, who has been described as "the show's brightest discovery".cite news |first=Tom |last=Shales |authorlink= |coauthors= |title="30 Rock", Solid Enough to Rebuild a Thursday Foundation |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/15/AR2006111501577_pf.html |publisher="The Washington Post" |date=2006-11-16 |accessdate=2008-08-26 ] She has said that she "really wanted him for that part and was very happy when no one objected". Shortly after McBrayer's casting, Alec Baldwin was cast as Jack Donaghy, the "totally uncensored" Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming.cite news |first=Nellie |last=Andreeva |title=Baldwin eyes Fey's NBC pilot |url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002034584 |publisher="The Hollywood Reporter" |date=2007-02-17 |accessdate=2008-04-01] Fey had written the part with Baldwin in mind, but was "very pleasantly surprised when he agreed to do it". As the series progressed "the push-pull [relationship] between Fey's character, Liz Lemon, the harried head writer of "The Girlie Show", and Alec Baldwin's domineering network executive, Jack Donaghy" helped the show find "its rhythm". [cite news |first=Marc D. |last=Allan |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Polished "Rock" Rolls On |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/22/AR2007082201741.html |work= |publisher="The Washington Post" |date=2007-08-26 |accessdate=2008-08-26 ]

Judah Friedlander was cast as the staff writer of "The Girlie Show", Frank Rossitano. Before auditioning for the role, Friedlander and Fey had never met. His character was based on at least two writers that Fey used to work with at "SNL", but he "certainly brought some of [his] own things to it as well", [cite web |url=http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07109/777779-352.stm |title="30 Rock" Star Rockets into Pittsburgh |accessdate=2008-08-04 |date=2007-04-19 |publisher="Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"] including his trucker hat wearing persona. [cite news |first=Irina |last=Aleksander |title=Five Questions for Judah Friedlander |url=http://www.observer.com/2008/five-questions-judah-friedlander |work= |publisher="The New York Observer" |date=2008-04-24 |accessdate=2008-08-26 ] Fey based the role of Pete Hornberger, a long time friend of Liz's and producer of "The Girlie Show", on Scott Adsit, who agreed to portray the character.

In an unaired pilot for "30 Rock", Rachel Dratch, a former "SNL" cast member, [cite news |first=Justin |last=Ravitz |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Unemployment’s a Downer for "SNL"-er Dratch |url=http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/45792/ |work= |publisher="New York Magazine" |date=2008-04-07 |accessdate=2008-08-15 ] originally played the role of Jenna DeCarlo. In August 2006, executive producer Lorne Michaels announced that Dratch would be replaced as Jenna but would portray different roles in other episodes. In the re-tooled pilot, Dratch appears as "The Girlie Show"'s cat wrangler.cite news |first=Michael |last=Schneider |title=Inside Move: Dratch latched to multiple "Rock" roles |url=http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=story&articleID=VR1117948462&cs=1 |publisher="Variety" |date=2006-08-14 |accessdate=2008-03-02] Later in the month, NBC announced that Jane Krakowski had replaced Dratch in the role of Jenna,cite press release |title=Jane Krakowski Joins the Cast of New NBC Comedy "30 Rock" |publisher=NBC Universal Media Village |date=2006-08-17 |url=http://nbcumv.com/release_detail.nbc/entertainment-20060817000000-janekrakowskijoins.html |accessdate=2008-03-02] cite news |first=Joel |last=Keller |title=Jane Krakowski added to "30 Rock" |url=http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/08/17/jane-krakowski-added-to-30-rock/ |publisher="AOL"'s TV Squad |date=2008-08-17 |accessdate=2008-03-02] cite news |first=Colin |last=Mahan |title="30 Rock" adds Jane Krakowski |url=http://www.tv.com/ally-mcbeal/show/168/story/5917.htmlom_act=convert&om_clk=headlinessh |publisher=TV.com |date=2006-08-16 |accessdate=2008-03-02] and that the character was renamed Jenna Maroney. [cite web |url=http://www.nbc.com/30_Rock/bios/jane_krakowski.shtml |title="30 Rock" TV Show, Series – Jane Krakowski |accessdate=2008-08-30 |publisher=NBC] Michaels said that "everyone is thrilled that she is joining the cast", and thought she was going to be a "perfect fit".


This episode was viewed by 8.13 million viewers and received a Nielsen Rating of 2.9/8 in the key adults 18–49 demographic.cite news |first=Rick |last=Kissell |title=NBC's "Rock" solid in premiere |url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117951807.html?categoryid=1275&cs=1&query=30+rock+3%2E2 |publisher="Variety" |date=2006-10-12 |accessdate=2008-02-27] As of October 2007, in the U.S. this episode was the highest rated, based on total viewers, of any in the series.cite news |first=Rick |last=Kissell |title=CBS, ABC battle on tight Thursday |url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117973469.html?categoryid=14&cs=1&query=30+rock+season+premiere |publisher="Variety" |date=2007-10-05 |accessdate=2008-02-27] In the U.K., the episode attracted 700,000 viewers, 6% of that time slot's viewing audience.cite news |first=Stephen |last=Brook |title="Californication" entices 1m viewers |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/oct/12/tvratings.television |publisher="Media Guardian" |date=2007-10-12 |accessdate=2008-02-27]

This episode received generally good reviews.cite web |first=Marc |last=D. Allan |date=2007-08-26 |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/22/AR2007082201741.html |title=Polished "Rock" Rolls On |accessdate=2007-09-02 |publisher="The Washington Post" ] Metacritic gave the episode a Metascore–a weighted average based on the impressions of a select thirty-one critical reviews–of 67 out of 100.cite web |url=http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/30rock?q=30%20rock |title="30 Rock"; Series: NBC, Wednesday 8:00 pm (30 minutes) |accessdate=2008-02-27 |publisher=Metacritic] Robert Abele of "LA Weekly" described the series as "a weirdly appropriate and hilarious symbol of our times",cite web |url=http://www.laweekly.com/film+tv/tv/battle-of-the-network-stars/14845/ |title=Battle of the Network Stars |accessdate=2008-02-27 |last=Abele |first=Robert |date=2006-10-25 |publisher="LA Weekly"] Dead link|date=September 2008 and both Tom Gliatto of "People Weekly" and Anna Johns of AOL's TV Squad declared "30 Rock" the best new comedy of the season.cite news |first=Tom |last=Gliatto |title="30 Rock" review |format=Magazine |work=People Weekly |page=39 |date=2006-10-16 |accessdate=2008-02-27] Johns described Tracy Jordan's line "I'm from the government and I'm here to inspect the chicken nuggets" as "confoundingly funny" and praised Jane Krakowski's replacement of Rachel Dratch in the Jenna role.cite web |url=http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/10/12/30-rock-pilot-series-premiere/ |first=Anna |last=Johns |date=2006-10-12 |publisher="AOL"'s TV Squad|title="30 Rock": "Pilot" (series premiere) |accessdate=2007-09-04 ] Keith Watson of "Metro" said that "It may just be a "Mary Tyler Moore Show" for the [21st century] but "30 Rock", er, rocks". Watson rated the episode 4 out of 5 stars.cite news |first=Keith |last=Watson |title=Last Night's TV; "30 Rock" |format=Newspaper |work=Metro |publisher="Associated Newspapers Ltd" |location=Liverpool |page=33 |date=2007-10-12 |accessdate=2008-02-23] Dorothy Rabinowitz of "The Wall Street Journal" praised the "hilarious scenes and fine ensemble cast", particularly commenting on Jack McBrayer's performance as Kenneth Parcell and Rachel Dratch's portrayal of the cat-wrangler, Greta Johansen.cite web |url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116008368469484155.html |title=This Is the Funny One |accessdate=2008-02-27 |last=Rabinowitz |first=Dorothy |date=2006-10-06 |publisher="The Wall Street Journal"]

Not all critics liked the episode. Oscar Dahl of BuddyTV felt that this episode did not live up to the show's potential. [cite web |first=Oscar |last=Dahl |url=http://www.buddytv.com/articles/30-rock/30-rock-pilot-review-769.aspx |title="30 Rock" Pilot Review |accessdate=2007-09-04 |publisher=BuddyTV |date=2006-10-12] "San Francisco Chronicle"'s Tim Goodman lamented that "the original [episode] was funnier" than the one that aired.cite web |url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/10/11/DDGOLLLO561.DTL&type=tvradio |title=Fey's show about a show isn't a very good show |accessdate=2008-02-27 |last=Goodman |first=Tim |date=2006-10-11 |publisher="San Francisco Chronicle"] Tom Shales of "Washington Post" said that "the show needs a better premise and funnier dialogue". Despite this, Shales said that "30 Rock" "is not a self-important bore like "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", and praised Tracy Morgan's performance as Tracy Jordan.cite web |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/10/AR2006101001454.html |title=Supporting Actors Prop Up the Show In NBC's "30 Rock" |accessdate=2008-03-02 |last=Shales |first=Tom |date=2006-10-11 |publisher="Washington Post"] "The New York Times"'s Alessandra Stanley praised Alec Baldwin's "slyly absurd comic presence that is bigger and brighter than any joke or character actor on the show" but mentioned that "Nothing very funny happens on "30 Rock" until Alec Baldwin enters the room, and suddenly this new NBC sitcom comes alive".cite web |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/11/arts/television/11stan.html?_r=2&ref=television&oref=slogin&oref=slogin |title=TV Antics: A Sitcom Mocks Its Milieu |accessdate=2008-03-02 |last=Stanley |first=Alessandra |date=2006-10-11 |publisher="The New York Times"]

The director of this episode, Adam Bernstein, was nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award for "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series", in 2007.cite web |url=http://www.dga.org/news/dgamonthly-0207/awrdsnews_tvcatsannounce-0207.php3 |title=DGA Announces Nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in the television categories of Dramatic Series Night, Comedy Series, Musical Variety, Reality Programs, Daytime Serials and Children's Programs for 2006 |accessdate=2008-03-07 |year=2007 |month=February |work=Newsletter |publisher=Directors Guild of America] Bernstein lost to Richard Shepard for his work on the "Ugly Betty" pilot.cite news |title=Scorsese wins at DGA Awards |url=http://www.variety.com/awardcentral_article/VR1117958629.html?nav=news&categoryid=1983&cs=1 |publisher="Variety" |date=2007-02-03 |accessdate=2008-03-02]


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