’30 Rock’: Alec Baldwin Offered to Take a Pay Cut to Keep the Show Alive

It can be easy to imagine celebrities with their staggering net worths as callously focused on their own bottom line. There are some stars who are famously stingy with their cash, but plenty of the rich and famous are incredibly generous.

We mostly hear tales of this generosity in reports of charitable gift giving, but celebrities have also been willing to sacrifice their own income in order to save the projects they work on — and, by extension, the salaries of their co-stars and the staff that depend on the set running to make their own paychecks. 

This was the case for Alec Baldwin when he offered to take a pay cut to keep 30 Rock operating. 

’30 Rock’ was a popular sitcom 

Nina Arianda as Zarina, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy
Nina Arianda as Zarina, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy | Ali Goldstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Premiering in 2006, 30 Rock was a bit of metafiction that explored the interactions of the staff working behind the scenes on a sketch comedy show. The show starred Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, the executive show runner. 

The Girlie Show, the fictional sketch comedy in question, had been flailing, but new Executive Vice President for the network Jack Donaghy (portrayed by Alec Baldwin) has a plan to turn it all around, and it involves taking Liz under his wing — with comedic antics to follow. 

Rounding out the ensemble cast was Tracy Morgan (who played a thinly veiled version of himself named Tracy Jordan), Jane Krakowski (who played Liz’s best friend Jenna Maroney), and Jack McBrayer (who played Kenneth Parcell, a breakout character whose role grew considerably as the series went on). The series aired for seven seasons before concluding in 2013. 

Alec Baldwin’s role was not always secure

RELATED: ’30 Rock’: Jon Hamm Almost Played an Iconic Character on the Show

In addition to starring in the series, Tina Fey was also the writer, and she had a vision of Alec Baldwin taking on the part of Jack Donaghy even before the pilot was written. “Well, it was written for Alec Baldwin but none of us had the balls to talk to him about it,” Fey explained. Baldwin was a big name with both a long filmography of impressive roles and a bad-boy reputation that has landed him hot water with the law on multiple occasions. 

Baldwin did agree to be on the show, much to Fey’s relief, and she credits his initial involvement with the show getting picked up in the first place. If we didn’t have Alec,” Fex admitted, the network was “not even picking up this pilot.”

After working so closely with Baldwin over the years, Fey had nothing but praise for his talents, writing in her memoir, “He can play the emotion at the core of a scene while reciting long speeches word for word and hitting all the jokes in the right rhythm. You would be surprised how many major, Oscar-winning movie stars cannot do this.” 

Even after Baldwin joined the cast, he was wishy-washy about whether he wanted to commit long-term. In an interview with EW, Fey reflects on how she had to accept that Baldwin could exit at any time: “I always had a very Zen thing about it — he’s going to do it or not, and if he doesn’t do it, we won’t continue…. You can’t control things by being nervous about it.”

Alec Baldwin offered to take a pay cut to save the show

Despite the speculation that Baldwin’s time on the show might be cut short, he was a passionate participant in the end. In fact, as the show was wrapping up, he did all he could to keep it going. As EW reports, Baldwin shared, “I offered NBC to cut my pay 20 percent in order to have a full 7th and 8th seasons of 30 Rock. I realize times have changed.” 

The show did not get an eighth season, but it did get a full seventh season and a supersized finale. Baldwin has gone on to many other projects including famously portraying President Donald Trump on SNL