NBC's "30 Rock" has had its share of big guest stars -- Jerry Seinfeld, Isabella Rossellini, Edie Falco -- over the course of its two seasons, something for which creator-star Tina Fey is more than a little grateful.
"We've been so lucky," says Fey, who won a Screen Actors Guild award earlier this year for playing the perpetually put-upon Liz Lemon. "We've been super-lucky to have people like -- oh, here's another guest star that we've got coming up ... that was an amazing honor to work with is Tim Conway. He's going to be in ... our second episode back."
Having had all those folks, plus the likes of Paul Reubens, Elaine Stritch, Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter on the show, Fey really only has one name on her list: "I still want Oprah to play my best friend. I feel like I haven't -- I want to spend time with Oprah, and I don't know what I need to do to make that happen."
Along with "The Office" and "Scrubs," "30 Rock" returns to finish out its season on Thursday night. Though the show was idled by the writers' strike, Fey and her staff decided that in the show's world, which after all deals with the making of a TV show, the strike didn't happen. "We sort of felt like for people viewing at home, the real strike was a big enough pain," she says.
Instead, things at the bizarro-world NBC will pick up where they left off. Jack Donaghy's ( Alec Baldwin) reality show brainchild "MILF Island" ("20 MILFs, 50 eighth-grade boys, no rules") is now a huge hit, but someone on Liz's staff has called him a "Class A moron" in the pages of the New York Post, possibly imperiling Jack's ascendancy to chairman of the company.
Fey says she and her fellow writers "actually sat down and tried to figure out the rules of 'MILF Island' and were not entirely successful. It involves something where the boys vote the moms off if they don't like them anymore. And then it involves physical challenges and that's about all that we know. ... But when I sell it to [real-life NBC boss] Ben Silverman, we'll know more."
With only five episodes to do this season, Fey says coming back post-strike hasn't been quite the grind that the end of a season might otherwise be: "There was always a light at the end of the tunnel, where sometimes when the end -- you know, the back half of last year when we had 12 to do, that becomes daunting."
The writers also picked up a couple of stories that were in various stages of completion before the strike. "We had two scripts that were in the outline phase, and so we went back to those and kind of tried to adjust them with the mindset that now rather than being in the middle of a season, these were now sort of a mini re-premiere and relaunch to this mini-season that we're having," Fey says. "So we did have some story areas, and then it was a matter of taking -- once again, taking what would have been the middle of the season and finding a way to build it to hopefully an interesting and climactic end to the season."
In addition to Conway, the final five episodes will also feature returns by Dean Winters as Dennis the Beeper King, Liz's on-and-off, last-resort boyfriend; Will Arnett (Arrested Development) as Jack's nemesis Devon Michaels; and Saturday Night Live regular Jason Sudeikis as Floyd, the guy Liz let get away at the end of last season.
And then there's this: "Liz does have a little bit of a pregnancy scare," Fey says. "Liz, who probably hooks up once every seven years, seems surprisingly to -- when it rains, it pours there for a week or two for her."
Despite those developments, Liz's love life will remain mostly nonexistent in the foreseeable future. That stems in part from who she is as a character, but Fey also says she doesn't particularly enjoy writing those kinds of scenes for herself.
"There's a certain contingency in our writers' room. They're always pitching them and I'm always saying no -- no more love times," she says. "So I don't know what will be on the horizon for Liz. Maybe -- you know who would be good? Peter Dinklage -- that would be good. That guy is awesome. Let me go in there and say we need to start working on that."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times