As we talked about the finale, I kept insisting on returning to first principles; the core ensemble vs. the larger ensemble. Also, first principles like Tracy acting out again and Liz having to corral him at a strip club for one last time, yet this time his reason for having run to the strip club was about his fear of saying goodbye and not just him acting out and being crazy. It was about the fact that he’d spent so much time with these people and he cared about them. Similarly, Jack’s work stuff, Liz’s life stuff and Kenneth’s immortal pursuit of television success, was all stuff that we started and wanted to bring it to where we wanted it to end.
@tceraulo: I was looking for a “30 Rock” #tbt photo that I actually appear in and this was the best I could do, which is surprising given the number of photos I appear in here on Instagram. But @ericandrew16 took this of me, Bob Carlock, @laurengurg, and half of the back of @kmiervs’ head (I think) listening to Tina talk to Burbank after the Episode 615 table read, Silvercup, 2/9/12.
I’d like to think that at the very least, this show will encourage people to make some of the same mistakes we made. Because I do think that memorable television shows - they’re not copies of something else. And I think we made our own show and I hope that it will encourage other people to be as foolish and care as much and create that next show that people - at least for a little while - talk about.
At some point in the sixth season, we realized, without any conversation, that we were writing the penultimate stories for a lot of the people. We took a step back and said (for example) that it felt natural that the new guy Tina’s with should be the last guy – she’s had enough guys blow up. Jack is at the cusp of everything he wants work-wise and we’ve delayed enough. Jenna has found her version of super weird happiness with Will Forte’s character and we don’t want to ruin that – we want to play that out. It felt like it had taken a natural course and the seventh season was going to be the last. We felt going into it that we were loaded for bear. We had a lot of stuff to play with. There was a long conversation about killing Jack’s mom, because she’s great, but we knew it was the end and there was only one thing that could make Jack break. Jack needed to question everything he’d done and that started with his mother. Her death left him with this sort of confused message about happiness and other alien concepts to the Donaghy family. (It was time to) play that card. That’s a big deal for that character. (His mother) is really the only person other than Liz who can tell the emperor that he doesn’t have any clothes on. We were able to play a lot of trump cards in that last season. We had held onto the right stuff. It was fun to have Liz get married midway through the season and not have that be an ending.
We knew it was going to be a lot of work, because the show is single camera and because of who Tina and I are, and that meant spending a lot of time with these people. Our starting place was that we were only going to hire people we could stand to be in a room with for (sometimes) twenty hours a day. We did really well with that guiding principle. We hired really nice people who were also really good and helped make a great show. Beyond that, they had to drink the Kool-Aid. You could only be all-in because we wanted everything from everyone. We wanted stories that they read last night, we wanted stories from their lives. We didn’t want to feel like we were making someone do something they didn’t want to do because we were insisting on a better joke. That was another luxury that we had pretty much all the way through: everyone wanted to be as good as we wanted it to be.