Alec Baldwin very candidly tells you why you should be watching this show

As one of the more interesting comedies on television, 30 Rock manages to always push the envelope of the show in new directions. The new season of this show about a show kicks off on October 4, and they are beginning things in splendid fashion by having Jerry Seinfeld guest star on the opening episode. Recently, 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin (Jack Donaghy) took part in a discussion about the show.

First of all, congratulations on the Emmy nod.

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Alec Baldwin: Thank you. Thank you.

Congrats on a second season. Really wonderful.

Alec Baldwin: No, we really -- I think everybody is very grateful that we're going to come back and do it again, and hopefully do it after that. I mean, if you get lucky and this thing runs and run and runs, it's a great opportunity. And then this season we have to really, really juice up our chances of having a good start to the season. We got Jerry -- what's his name? Jerry -- the guy that was on the comedy with the other three people. Jerry --

Seinfeld.

Alec Baldwin: Seinfeld. Right. Jerry Seinfeld is doing our show with us this year, and it's just so exciting. It's great. And we're very grateful to Jerry Seinfeld for doing the show with us.

I understand that he's a very funny man.

Alec Baldwin: We are incredibly lucky because on this show, obviously a part of it is what's shooting in New York. And there's not a lot of half hour in New York right now, if any. They used to do "Spin City" here when FOX was doing it. And I don't know what other half hour -- they had "Sex and the City." That was considered a single-camera comedy, I guess. Although there was a lot of dramatic overtones to that. So we're pretty much it in terms of half-hour sitcom.

And for those people that want to come and play and shoot for a week, some amazing people came into the show last year. You know, Paul Reubens, Elaine Stritch played my mother. Nathan Lane played my brother. I'm always thinking about my storyline. Isabella Rossellini played my ex-wife. We got some pretty good people.

When you look back over the last few years, did you ever think you'd be doing a comedy series?

Alec Baldwin: You know, when you do these things, very often it's -- what's important is who's doing the asking. So it was Lorne who's an old, old friend of mine. And I've done SNL many times. And his company and Marci Klein, his associate there, they asked me to do the show. And Tina was the writer. And I knew Tina was funny. I knew she was very funny. And so I did the pilot.

And what I didn't count on was how challenging this would be, because I think in the beginning we all wanted it to be funny, and myself included. And we kind of tried to make it pop and tell the jokes and hit the jokes and everything. And then as the season went on, I think the show got better because we tried to make it more real. And we still make it a little nutty. Today was pretty nutty, I must say. We had Seinfeld here. But we try -- I think everybody really tries to make it funny and yet to make it more honest.

I think that's one of the huge attractions of it. There's that kind of zaniness.

Alec Baldwin: Yeah. Everybody is a little nuts, but we try to keep them nuts in a certain window. We try to keep it in a certain range. And sometimes we go beyond that range. Only speaking for myself, sometimes I do go too far. But we think when it works best, we try to keep it as real as we can. But what's really been great for me is just how great the writers are and how funny the material is. It's almost actor-proof in that way, that if you just get out there and do it, it's very funny.

One of things that struck me about it too is the dynamics of this setup...

Alec Baldwin: Speaking for myself and for the show, Yes, we want everybody to have some interaction with everybody else, with me, with Tracy, with Kenneth, with Jack, with Tina, with, you know, Lonny, with Jane and so forth, with Pete. So I think it's better the more you have -- even though it's a half hour, the more you have people coming in and playing their little notes the better, yeah.

I mean, even some of our other stars. Me and Kim Jung-Il (referring to a photo in Jack Donaghy's office). This is one of my favorite things in the show is my artwork and my office pictures of me with other famous people. But we make a nice couple me and Kim.

You have photos all over the place. I mean, some of these were obviously dummied.

Alec Baldwin: No, they were all dummied. We have me with Jay (Leno), me with the Saudi sheik. We have me with some Saudi sheiks there. It's all me with that whole Carlyle group crowd that I hang out with, my character does.

There is a wonderful kinetic energy. I remember when I first spoke to you and Tina. I remember SNL. There's a wonderful energy with you two when you were on the screen.

Alec Baldwin: Well, I mean, in TV you don't have many people like her. You know, you have women who have an edge to them and are funny and are smart in the moment and they're clever on screen, and they're not the pretty girl, you know. And Tina is a beautiful woman who's funny and smart and has that edge in the same instant, you know. And that's very rare. There's not a lot of people who have that kind of timing and that kind of -- the spin that she puts on the line reading. She's occupying a place right now for herself in television that there just is nobody else doing what she's doing,you know. I mean, I don't think so.

You've gotten great kudos for a lot of your work. Do get a sense of passing that on, your experiences and so forth.

Alec Baldwin: Well, I think two things. One, the longer you do this for a living and the older you get, the more tired you get. So you save your energy for your work only. I used to dissipate my energy, you know, playing Scrabble in my room and talking on the phone with my lawyer and all this other stuff. And now when I'm working, I tend to try to husband my energy just for the work that I do. And I think that that pays off, because when you're young, your attention is elsewhere maybe.

And I remember actors that I worked with when I was in my 20's who I would see them, and they had a very particular kind of focus to their work. And they would sit in a chair and they would read the paper and they really just kept their mind on what we're doing today. And it can be tough because it's a long day. And it's only -- it's not like I don't do other things. But I really try to give this everything I've got because we're not going to come back and do it again.

So often in films, like if you do a play -- which I've done a lot of plays. You go to work, and if something eludes you that day, you have the opportunity to go and do it tomorrow. And you really do it with a very conscientious aim of improving what eluded you the day before. You literally go the next day and go, "Oh, it's the drink, the revolver, the chair." You try to recreate what went wrong or what you think you came up short on and do it better.

In film and television, I can't come in tomorrow and say, "I figured it out today. Let's go back and shoot it again." I'm sure I could if it was really an emergency. But with this work, you've got to really get it right quickly, and you have to put the pieces together quickly. And that just requires something that you just -- it's hard work, you know. The work isn't hard, but you've got to focus.

Well, you've been very, very gracious with your time. Last question then. If you could tell us why people should watch this show.

Alec Baldwin: I think we have the funniest writing on TV. I mean, are there other attractive women who are the leads on shows? Yeah, I can think of one. I can think of a couple. Are there other good-looking women who are funny and clever and talented? I'm not going to name their names because I don't want to slight their writing staffs. But there are a lot of shows that have components of what we have, but they don't have verything we have. And the most important thing that we have, I think we have the best writers in the business right now. We have the best writers today. They're funny. They're sick. They're deeply troubled people. But we overlook that and we take from them what we can. And they're good writers. I wouldn't want to hang out with them, but -- never, ever.

The Second Season of 30 Rock begins October 4 at 8:30 PM on NBC.

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Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs