What Emmy judges see: Alec Baldwin in 'Rosemary's Baby' episode of '30 Rock'
Considering that Alec Baldwin has already won a Golden Globe and two SAG Awards for his role on "30 Rock," it's surprising that he still hasn't nabbed an Emmy for the show voted best comedy series last year.
Ricky Gervais ended up pulling off a jaw-dropping upset in that race for best comedy actor in 2007, but Gervais is currently shuttled off to the lineup for TV movie actors because that's where the "Extras" finale qualifies. Now Baldwin competes against Charlie Sheen ("Two and a Half Men") and three chaps who have, literally, a big advantage over Baldwin and Sheen. They compete with one-hour episode entries over half-hour rivals. In the last eight years, stars with one-hour episodes won five times. To read in-depth analysis of the sample episodes they chose to submit to Emmy judges, click on their names: Steve Carell ("The Office"), Lee Pace ("Pushing Daisies") and Tony Shalhoub ("Monk").
But don't write off Baldwin hastily. In "Rosemary's Baby," he gives the flashiest performance of all nominees in this category, and it's a dangerous performance that risks being slammed as racist if it wasn't so over-the-top ridiculous. It's a shocking comic riff that really shows off Baldwin's gifts as a comic actor.
The gist: Baldwin's smug TV exec Jack Donaghy must stop his star Tracy (Tracy Morgan) from doing everything he's told not to — like organizing dog fighting. Tracy says he can't help himself because he's still rebelling against the ne'er-do-well dad who deserted him when he was young. Jack sets up a powwow with the network therapist, who suggests that Jack help Tracy to act out role playing so Tracy can confront these ghosts from his past.
Jack agrees but enacts outrageous African American TV roles. When portraying Tracy's dad, he channels Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford in "Sanford and Son" and, when being Tracy, he's Jimmie Walker as J.J. in "Good Times." Jack cranks up the racial stereotypes so high that the therapist is flabbergasted and offended, but not Tracy. He gets seriously absorbed in the exchange.
JACK (AS FRED SANFORD): "Hey, dummy! I'm mad at you too! Why you gotta act out that way?"
TRACY: "Cause you left me, Dad!"
JACK (AS FRED SANFORD): "I was young and confused and your mom didn't want me around no more. Now pass me dem damn collard greens."
TRACY: "Is this true, Mom?"
JACK (AS TRACY'S MOM): "He gambled away my welfare check!"
JACK (AS FRED SANFORD): "I got a mind to smack you upside the head!"
THERAPIST: "This is not helpful."
TRACY: "Be me now!"
JACK (AS J.J.): "I only act out because I want your love! Dyn-o-mite!"
THERAPIST: "I think we're just doing 'Good Times' now."
TRACY: "Now do the white dude my mom left my dad for."
JACK: "Now see here, Tracy, it's impolite to slurp one's soup."
TRACY: "Whoa! No need to resort to ugly stereotypes!"
JACK (AS FRED SANFORD): "You're always gonna be my son."
JACK (AS TRACY'S MOM): "Just because I stopped loving your dad doesn't mean we stopped loving you."
JACK (AS FRED SANFORD): "Stop putting words in my mouth, woman!"
JACK (AS UPSET HISPANIC NEIGHBOR): "Yo, papi, callate! People are sleeping!"
JACK (AS FRED SANFORD): "Mind your own damn business, Mrs. Rodriguez!"
THERAPIST: "All right, this is ridiculous!"
JACK (AS FRED SANFORD): "Lady, just because I'm an ignorant black man and you pay me a nickel to buff up your chifforobe doesn't give you the right to call me ridiculous just because I'm proud of my son." (Pretends that he's been shot by a gun. Falls back into a chair.) "They got me! Dawg just shot me!"
TRACY: (Leaps on Jack, hugging his chest) "Don't die! I don't wanna dog-fight no more!"
The episode includes lots of other funny moments, but not similar fireworks.
"Rosemary's Baby" opens with Jack bestowing a "followship award" to Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) because she "best exemplifies a follower." He adds, "When I think of the free-spirited Liz Lemon I met just one year ago — so resistant to product integration, cross-promotion and adverlingus [sic] — it pleases me to see how well she's learned to follow!"
However, when Liz hires a veteran female script writer, Rosemary (Carrie Fisher), who's an obvious wacko, Jack fumes, "Fire her and don't ever make me talk to a woman that old again."
But Liz protests, insisting that Rosemary is an icon who once inspired her to get into the TV biz.
"No! No!" Jack counters. "You got into this business because you're funny and you're weird and you're socially retarded and you also want to do because it pays well, which means you're not like Rosemary. You are like me!"
Liz: "No! You are a suit. You feed off the creativity and hard work of other people and turn it into commercials and pie charts and triangle graphs."
Jack: "This is my show. And once a week I rent it out to the erectile dysfunction companies."
Liz insists that, if Jack fires Rosemary, he must fire her too. He bags them both. At the end of the episode, however, after Liz discovers what a weirdo Rosemary is, he rehires Liz and they toast the continuation of their unholy partnership with red wine.