How hip is the room at "30 Rock" these days?
Hip enough to bring in Mary J. Blige, Clay Aiken, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Sheryl Crow, Wyclef Jean, Moby, Ad-Rock, Steve Earle and a backstage party's worth of other musicians for a "benefit concert" during the show's season finale.
Boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) recently located his biological dad only to get some inconvenient news: Seems Milton Green (Alan Alda) needs a kidney transplant. Jack wants to help him — but not if it costs him a kidney.
So he decides to call in favors. One of the most enjoyable parts of NBC's Emmy-winning comedy is the guest cameos, and this premise allows any musician who wants face time in a hip, irreverent comedy to stop by.
"Haven't you said that if a song reaches just one person you've done your job?" Donaghy says to Costello.
"No," he replied. "I never said that."
So Donaghy plays hardball: Isn't Costello really Declan MacManus, international art thief?
Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), while getting ready for an appearance on the "seventh hour" of the "Today" show, stops by to wave at Crow, an old school chum. Crow looks back blankly.
The idea of multi-artist benefit songs became a perfect parody target about 5 minutes after "We Are the World" was released back in the 1980s, and remains so today. The stars pull it off, feigning deep worry over Milton's kidney.
"30 Rock" may be slipping into its summer hibernation, but NBC will be quick to milk it by distributing copies of the benefit online and helping viewers follow the lyrics. T-shirts are already on sale with the "catch-phrase" of "That's a DealBreaker, Ladies!" It's a new paradigm — television shows need to generate more money.
From "30 Rock" this week, producers provided the perfect buzz-worthy curtain-closer for a buzz-worthy show.