Judah Friedlander, 30 Rock
In case you haven’t noticed, this week nearly every morsel of NBC's prime-time lineup has gone green, sprinkling eco-friendly messages wherever and whenever possible. How will the gloriously irreverent 30 Rock
(Thursdays at 8:30 pm/ET) tackle such a heady subject matter? Think "Ross Geller in a foam mascot suit." TVGuide.com caught up with Judah Friedlander
, who plays "TGS" scribe Frank, to get a sneak peek.
TVGuide.com: As we neared the end of last season on 30 Rock, how confident were you that the show would get renewed?
Friedlander: Well, after they renewed us I was pretty confident we would get renewed. I was still holding out a bit, but I was pretty confident. Literally, man, I had no idea, dude. I had no clue.
TVGuide.com: Is the vibe on the set any different now that you have gotten that vote of confidence?
Friedlander: I can only speak for myself, but I'm one of those people who hopes people watch us and hopes we stay on. Now with the writers' strike, who knows what's going to happen?
TVGuide.com: What can you preview about the Nov. 8 "Green Week" episode?
Friedlander: It's going to be pretty funny. [David] Schwimmer guest-stars in a pretty funny role. He's playing Greenzo [Jack Donaghy's idea for an eco-friendly NBC mascot], and it's very funny.
TVGuide.com: Is he a reluctant mascot or...?
Friedlander: Oh, he really gets into it. I'd call him an unintentional troublemaker. It's a funny role and Schwimmer's great in it. I worked with him before on an independent called Duane Hopwood at Sundance. We played roommates and best friends and coworkers. It was a different role for all of us. He was playing an alcoholic in the middle of losing custody of his two kids, and I was a South Jersey guy who fixes slot machines at Caesars casino in Atlantic City. I looked totally different in it, with short, straight hair and a mustache, no glasses. It was like American Splendor, a part that was totally different. So yeah, it was fun working with Schwimmer again.
TVGuide.com: But Al Gore plays Al Gore and Meredith Vieira plays Meredith Vieira?
Friedlander: I forgot MV was in it! But yes, Al Gore plays Al Gore. I'm like 95 percent sure of that.
TVGuide.com: And what does Frank get to do in the episode?
Friedlander: It's one of those [episodes] where people kind of make fun of me some for being a slob. Greenzo gets the best of me after I make fun of him....
TVGuide.com: I don't see Frank as being particularly eco-aware.
Friedlander: No, although for my blog — I write a blog [found at NBC.com] as Frank — I'm going all green. They put the call in and said Frank has to write a green blog, and Frank agrees to it. Even if I don't I have a lot going on in an episode, I put up a whole new blog as Frank.
TVGuide.com: What are we going to learn about Frank this season?
Friedlander: You know, in a couple of weeks my character [spoiler withheld].
TVGuide.com: Does it involve anybody we know?
Friedlander: Nobody we know. It's a guest star. It's a new person to the show.
TVGuide.com: A couple of us 30 Rock fans were just talking about this in the hallway: Are each of Frank's hats unique, or do you have "blanks" on which you simply slap on some Velcro letters?
Friedlander: All the hats are custom-made by me, and I come up with all of the sayings. The ones I wear for stand-up are much more elaborate — it's a mix of stitch and gluing and cutting — but for 30 Rock, because I have to make so many and often at the last minute, it's a different process.
Friedlander: Not even that. It's stick-on or glue-on. I've got to go real quick with them.
TVGuide.com: Would you ever take a fan's suggestion for a hat saying?
Friedlander: I've used one from a friend, and one was from my mom. But I have yet to use one from someone I didn’t know.
TVGuide.com: Might I have seen a hat once change midscene, when it should not have?
Friedlander: No, they're very strict with continuity. But per episode, I'll have sometimes five hats. And I'll tell you this, I'm getting more complex. Some of them will link to each other within an episode. There are in-jokes to be found. I may form a sentence between hats. There's a lot going on with the hats this year.
TVGuide.com: Homeland Security might start worrying that you're trying to get a message out to a sleeper cell.
Friedlander: No, Frank does all good messages. Frank is here to save America. If anything, Frank works for Homeland Security and Liz doesn’t know it. That would be an awesome subplot.
TVGuide.com: Let's finish with the two movies you have in the pipeline. Cabin Fever 2?
Friedlander: I have a cameo in that and it's out sometime in '08. It's comedy, also.
TVGuide.com: And Starship Dave, that has Eddie Murphy playing a spaceship shaped like a human, right?
Friedlander: Yeah, that’s a family comedy that’s also sci-fi. I play the engineer of the ship.
TVGuide.com: Oh, so you're like Star Trek's Scotty.
Friedlander: Kind of, yeah. Again, a different kind of role for me. He's an almost robotic lifeless alien that looks human but acts alien. It was a lot of fun.
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