NBC: More variations on ''SNL'' and ''L&O'' -- ''Studio 60'' and ''30 Rock'' are BFFs; ''L&O'' gets new female characters

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated July 24, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT
Peet & Perry: David Livingston/Getty Images

30 Rock

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Even though there was much insistence that there’s no competitive vibe between NBC’s two behind-the-scenes-of-Saturday Night Live-alike shows — ensemble drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Tina Fey comedy 30 Rock — we’re gonna go ahead and make like there’s one anyway, because that’s how we roll here at the Television Critics’ Association summer press tour. So which won the best-panel smackdown during the Peacock’s presentations? You really can’t beat Studio 60 creator Aaron Sorkin referencing his own meltdown when asked a totally unrelated question about the current state of television programming, quipping, ”I think it’s bad crack in the schoolyard.” Extra points for star Matthew Perry’s apropos-of-nothing follow-up, ”I think it’s mostly like bad Vicodin in the schoolyard.”

Ratings Recovery Come to think of it, NBC was basically a two-day therapy session, with Entertainment President Kevin Reilly spending a lot of time issuing mea culpas for the network’s own form of a meltdown — the ratings kind. But he was all about the optimism, ending his elaborate sailing metaphor (don’t ask) with, ”I think our ill-fated three-hour tour has come to an end.” To wit: Summer hit America’s Got Talent will return in January on Sunday nights, and Last Comic Standing got another pickup for next summer. Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence’s failed-pilot-turned-You Tube-hit Nobody’s Watching is slated for webisodes and a midseason on-air spot. A broadcast of Madonna’s current tour hits the schedule for November sweeps. And everyone who hasn’t quite had enough of Deal or No Deal should mark the old calendar for the week of Sept. 18: Yes, folks, there will be no fewer than four airings of the Howie Mandel game show during that blessed seven-day period, including a two-hour Monday edition. But after that, you’ll have to get your suitcase-opening fix just twice a week, Monday and Thursday.

‘Law’ & Estrogen The Law & Order franchise is getting a big dose of girl power this fall: Milena Govich (Conviction) joins the original L&O as Jesse L. Martin’s new partner (and the show’s first female street cop); Gladiator‘s Connie Nielsen steps in for new mom Mariska Hargitay for a six-episode guest stint on Special Victims Unit; Alana De La Garza jumps from one crime juggernaut (CSI: Miami) to another as L&O‘s newest assistant district attorney; and Julianne Nicholson (another Conviction survivor) partners up with Chris Noth on Criminal Intent. Meanwhile, this fall will mark the first time two L&Os team up on one night — Tuesdays, with CI and SVU running back-to-back. And creator Dick Wolf, as usual, isn’t worried a bit about what that’ll do to his ratings: ”USA and TNT are the No. 1 and No. 2 cable networks,” he said of the his show’s off-network homes. ”And it doesn’t seem to bother them.”

‘SNL’ Lives On The real Saturday Night Live, on the other hand, will lose one of its greatest female influences this season, with head writer/Weekend Update anchor Tina Fey leaving to write and star in 30 Rock for boss Lorne Michaels. ”Am I happy about it? No,” Michaels said, adding later that his three-decade-old sketch show ”is always a work in progress.” Expect a round of Weekend Update trial anchors in September… and, if this press tour is any indication, a lot of references to SNL‘s one shining funny moment from last season: that ”Lazy Sunday” video.

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30 Rock

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan star in the Emmy-winning comedy. You want to go to there.
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