One of the reasons Jane Krakowski was drawn to the series was because it gave her the chance to sing and dance. Sitcoms today don't usually allow for that - this was the first since Ally McBeal (1997).
In her 2011 book "Bossypants," Tina Fey said that during the early years of the show, Donald Glover was its only black writer. She also said that he was so young that when he started on the writing staff, he was still living in an NYU dorm and working there as a Resident Adviser. Since he came from a large family in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Fey said that Glover was especially good at writing for the character of Kenneth, who was also supposed to be from Stone Mountain. Glover later became a star as an actor on the TV show Community (2009).
Tina Fey had to leave Saturday Night Live (1975) in order to appear in the show (the schedules overlapped). Rachel Dratch also left the show at this time, as she was set to play Jenna DeCarlo. After appearing in the first version of the pilot, Dratch was replaced by Jane Krakowski and given bit parts during the first season.
Jane Krakowski and Cheyenne Jackson both originated the lead roles in the workshop of "Xanadu" for Broadway. Krakowski left the show before it premiered to star in "30 Rock" instead. Jackson decided to leave the show because he did not want to perform without her. He ended up returning when the replacement actor broke his ankle only a short while before the show opened. Both have since appeared on "30 Rock" together, where their close real-life friendship is reversed, with Jenna resenting Jackson's character and he being disgusted by her constant rude behavior.
Characters Liz and Jenna began "The Girlie Show" at The Second City in Chicago. In 1992 Tina Fey took classes there and in 1994 was invited to join the cast. Her writing partner was Rachel Dratch and their time together inspired the relationship between Liz and Jenna.
In 2012 Tina Fey explained the Emmy in Liz Lemon's office: "I've always sort of thought that it's a Daytime Emmy and that perhaps she got it for writing a really specific category, like Best Regional Promo for the show The Mommies (1993) or something like that . . . [Or] for writing jokes for Joy Behar for The View (2001)--it's definitely a Daytime Emmy. It's a local Daytime Emmy."
The same year that "30 Rock" started airing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006), another show set behind the scenes of a fictional _"Saturday Night Live" (1975)_ (qb)-type show, also premiered. Even though there were many differences between them (including "30 Rock" being a half-hour sitcom while "Studio 60" was an hour-long drama), many critics compared the two shows and engaged in speculation about which one would survive. "Studio 60" was canceled after one season, and creator Aaron Sorkin and former regular Nate Corddry both went on to guest-star on "30 Rock."
The awning in front of Liz Lemon's apartment has displayed two different addresses over the course of the show. In some episodes the address is 160 Riverside Drive and in other shows the address is 168 Riverside Drive.
On December 29, 2006, Nielsen Media Research reported the results of having, for the first time, monitored viewers who use a digital video recorder to record shows for later viewing. According to the Nielsen numbers, "30 Rock" had the fifth-largest increase (viewers who use a DVR to record the show and then watch it within a week of its initial airing). According to Nielsen, the show adds nearly 7.5% to its total audience every week as a result of these "live plus seven" viewers
Tina Fey originally pitched a series about a cable news producer who is forced to produce a show hosted by a right-wing pundit. Rachel Dratch and Alec Baldwin, respectively, would have played the roles, but NBC suggested a show based on her Saturday Night Live (1975) experiences instead.
Elizabeth Banks played a character on Scrubs (2001) who was impregnated by a character named J.D. (John Dorian). On "30 Rock", she was impregnated by another character with initials J.D. (Jack Donaghy).
The show's name is similar to "3rd Rock," the commonly used short title for 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996). At the 64th Golden Globe Awards, Tim Allen mispronounced the show's name as "3rd Rock" when mentioning that Alec Baldwin had been nominated for the Best Actor in a Television Comedy or Musical Award. Both shows featured guest appearances by Elaine Stritch as the mother of one of the main characters.
Andrea Martin was offered the role of Margaret Lemon but her commitments to the Broadway musical adaptation of Young Frankenstein (1974) prevented her from appearing. Marin later guest starred as Bonnie Badamath.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Over the course of the series, there were many hints that Kenneth was considerably older than the character's outward appearance would suggest (the actor who plays Kenneth, Jack McBrayer, was in his early 30s when "30 Rock" started). These include: Kenneth's recognition of TV pop culture from decades before he logically would have been born; his anxiety in "Don Geiss, America and Hope" that NBC will start limiting and verifying the ages of their pages and his concern in "The Problem Solvers" that people in the office have been spreading a rumor that he's "been alive forever"; his memory that an eight-year-old 'Shirley Temple (I)' taught him how to roll cigarettes; his refusal to tell Suze Orman his age in "Today You Are a Man"; his on-screen identification as "Kenneth Parcell: Elderly Page" in "Queen of Jordan"; and many other jokes and references. In the last episode of the series, Kenneth looks to be exactly the same even many decades in the future, still the president of NBC, hearing a series pitch from Liz's great-granddaughter; many viewers speculated that that meant that Kenneth is actually immortal.