Matthew Perry, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Question: Is there a point to having Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Tina Fey's 30 Rock on the same network? Studio 60 looks more interesting, although the ad campaign seems to focus on the Network rip-off — I mean, homage — than on Sorkin. 30 Rock seems much more based on real life, with Tracy Morgan basically playing himself. However, it seems baffling that we have two shows about a fictional Saturday Night Live debuting at the same time. What are their long-term prospects?
Answer: These are excellent questions, and ones we've asked ourselves (and NBC during the press tour) repeatedly. The only way we're going to get a real answer is to see how the public responds. The dilemma facing both shows is that the track record isn't exactly great for TV shows set in the world of TV (not even Sorkin's brilliant Sports Night, whose pilot I enjoyed more than Studio 60). To their credit, the shows don't feel remotely like each other. 30 Rock is a straight-out comedy/satire, taking very funny barbs at corporate NBC in the form of Alec Baldwin. (And to be fair, Tracy Morgan isn't playing himself as much as a spoof of out-of-control TV-turned-movie-stars like Martin Lawrence.) Studio 60 takes itself and the medium a bit too seriously at times, even as it fesses up to cribbing from Network in Judd Hirsch's opening meltdown. But what a cast — and as usual, with Sorkin writing, the words are great and the plot twists terrific. I'm hopeful for both shows, but just as stymied as anyone by whatever currents in the zeitgeist gave us both of these projects at the same time.