30 Rock: A One Time-Special, which airs tonight on NBC as well as a number of NBCUniversal’s other networks, was shot under quarantine guidelines, both outside observing health and safety protocols and in the actors’ homes.
Creator and star Tina Fey, Robert Carlock and director Oz Rodriguez spoke about the reunion as part of NBC’s “Creativity Summit,” which happened in place of the company’s traditional upfronts. They were joined by stars of the show.
“When NBC asked if we could write a reunion episode, to pinch hit for the upfronts this year so they could happen, it made sense to us because the world of 30 Rock always blended commerce and comedy,” Fey said “I would say we have a level of understanding of marketing and advertising that matches the level of medical knowledge that people have on doctor shows.”
She added that “everything came together very quickly” and “everyone was very willing to jump right in.”
Tracy Morgan said, “We spent seven years together so to see the whole outfit back together was awesome.”
The episode brings back Fey, Morgan, Alec Baldwin and Jane Krakowski as well as Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, Keith Powell, Sue Galloway and John Lutz. It also features a number of guest stars from NBC’s current lineup (we’re apparently not allowed to tell you who they are, but if you think about NBC’s biggest shows and upcoming titles, you can take a guess).
It follows the end of the original show, which saw McBrayer’s character, Kenneth the Page, now in charge of NBC. He’s now living in Los Angeles and is in charge of rebooting TGS, so Fey’s Liz Lemon is tasked with getting the band back together.
Rodriguez said under the current circumstances, everything was a little harder to film. “Zoom is a big part of everyone’s life right now so it had to be a part of this story, but we wanted to bring an air of reality and have a wide shot and see Tracy’s shark tank. It was really exciting to get some scenes outside,” he said.
“There was a big learning curve in terms of how we were going to make a quarantine episode. We all had to film everything according to regulations,” Krakowski said.
Fey shot some scenes outside with a very small crew and each member of the cast and crew was tested for COVID-19. “It was very special and very heartwarming to be able to do what we used to do and to be safe doing it. I look forward to these baby steps for other people being able to get back to work soon,” she said.