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'30 Rock' Ex-Writer On NBC Sale To Comcast

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'30 Rock' Ex-Writer On NBC Sale To Comcast

Television

'30 Rock' Ex-Writer On NBC Sale To Comcast

'30 Rock' Ex-Writer On NBC Sale To Comcast

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The news this week of Comcast buying NBC Universal from General Electric presents many questions about antitrust issues and synergy. But for the NBC show 30 Rock, the deal presents new challenges. The oddly self-referential sitcom often pokes fun at NBC and parent company GE. Donald Glover, a former writer for the show who now acts in the NBC sitcom Community, offers his insight.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

There has been much ponderous discussion, including on this program, about what the Comcast buyout of NBC will mean to consumers, to regulators, to investors. But as General Electric prepares to step away as the majority owner of NBC, there's another important interest group to consider: the cast of the NBC show "30 Rock," the comedy show about an NBC comedy show, which has made GE a focal point of its humor.

(Soundbite of television program, "30 Rock")

Mr. ALEC BALDWIN (Actor): (As Jack Donaghy) The GE Trifection Oven cooks perfect food five times faster than a conventional oven because it uses three kinds of heat: thermal technology for consistent temperature, GE PreciseAir convection technology for optimal air circulation and microwave technology for incredible speed.

Mr. SCOTT ADSIT (Actor): (As Pete Homberger) Wow. That is impressive.

Mr. BALDWIN: (As Donaghy) The people upstairs think so. That's why they promoted me. That's why they sent me here to retool your show. I'm the new vice president of East Coast television and microwave oven programming.

BLOCK: That's Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, "30 Rock's" slick corporate honcho, part programming executive, part GE product promoter. So we wonder, are the writers on "30 Rock" already percolating with Comcast comedy? Well, Donald Glover is a former writer for "30 Rock," and he has some thoughts on this.

Hey, Donald.

Mr. DONALD GLOVER (Former Writer, "30 Rock"): Hey, how's it going?

BLOCK: It's going just fine. Now, I want to get to Comcast in a second, but first we should give GE its due. This has been a wonderfully rich vein of humor for "30 Rock."

Mr. GLOVER: Yeah. I was always amazed when I was there about how much they get - let us get away with.

BLOCK: Like what kind of stuff?

Mr. GLOVER: Well, just like the joking about how, you know - I mean, like, just the major joke of just, like, how they're owned by the Sheinhardt Wig Corporation.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Yeah.

Mr. GLOVER: That's like, that's a huge joke to say that, like, you know, to say that's paying for all these things is, you know, Sheinhardt Wigs. So�

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Let's play another scene from "30 Rock." This is Jack Donaghy again, giving a video presentation to the writing staff, talking about how to fold GE into comedy.

(Soundbite of television program, "30 Rock")

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. BALDWIN: (As Donaghy) All you have to do as the writing staff of an NBC show is incorporate positive mentions - or pos-mens - of GE products into your program. For example, you could write an episode where one of your characters purchases and is satisfied with one of GE's direct current drilling motors for an offshore or land-based project.

BLOCK: Pos-mens.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Still makes me laugh.

Mr. GLOVER: Yeah.

BLOCK: Part of the storyline here has been that Jack Donaghy's grand ambition is to become the CEO of GE. Think about Jack's future now, with Comcast taking over presumably. Is he going to be grabbing for that ring? What do you think?

Mr. GLOVER: I think he would want to be the top dog wherever he is, but I think there's always going to be a soft spot for GE. I mean, that's, like, kind of - that would totally turn his world upside-down, I think. I mean, if I was still a writer there, I'd definitely want to do something where, you know, his new boss is, you know, somebody half his age, kind of like this hipster kind of guy who's like - let's think outside the box, and you know, I invented the box, you know, attitude.

BLOCK: You know, Donald, I do think, though, there's something just kind of intrinsically funny about an appliance company, among other things, GE, owning a network. I mean, you can take that into all sorts of funny directions. I'm not sure, though, I'm hearing it with Comcast. It just seems more boring.

Mr. GLOVER: Yeah. I mean, like, the comedy was really there when you have something like an oven or something like that, and like - and it was kind of understood by the audience and everybody, like, that's how things make their money. You sell things that pay for the show.

And when a cable company is there, like, the line becomes a little more blurred. You know, what are they selling? What are they trying to get through? And I think that's, you know, I have to say I'm a little happy I'm not writing there anymore�

(Soundbite of laughter0

Mr. glover: �because that's going to be hard. But I think if any writing staff could do it, it's the "30 Rock" writing staff.

BLOCK: Donald Glover, thanks so much.

Mr. GLOVER: Thank you.

BLOCK: Donald Glover is a former writer for the TV show "30 Rock" on NBC.

(Soundbite of music)

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

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