The Amazing 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Crossover That Never Was (But Could Still Happen)

Executive producer Robert Carlock sheds light on a missed opportunity

By Chris Harnick May 23, 2017 3:00 PMTags
Jack McBrayer, 30 RockAli Goldstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt may share a connection to Orange Is the New Black, but aside from a few sly references to 30 Rock jokes like the drink "Old Spanish" and a drug store worker named "LaDonica" and Mikey the cat-calling construction worker, the two Tina Fey shows have been kept in separate universes. However, that wasn't always the case.

Yes, there are shared actors, like Jane Krakowski, who played Jenna on 30 Rock, is Jacqueline on Kimmy Schmidt. Fey, Judah Friedlander and Scott Adist, series regulars on 30 Rock, also appear in season three of Kimmy Schmidt, but there was almost one scene in the new season that would've tied the two shows together in a big way that was scrapped at the last minute.

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Kenneth Parcell, the former page and current head of NBC in the world of 30 Rock played by Jack McBrayer, was thisclose to appearing in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season three. Robert Carlock, Kimmy Schmidt co-creator, said it started as a joke while making the series premiere when Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) was being interviewed on Today at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

"We joked in the pilot, because we knew we where shooting at 30 Rock, we said, ‘Oh, we should have [Jack McBrayer] walk by in a suit.' And we wanted him to be getting out of a 1970s limo in a suit to go in as the head of NBC. Just in the background, not even noticed," Carlock said of the original scrapped idea. Carlock and Fey decided not to go forward with the gag because that wasn't the reality they were in, he said.

Art Streiber/NBC

That changed in season three when they were filming with Krakowski outside in the plaza of 30 Rock. McBrayer was in town working on a play and Fey got in touch.

"We texted him or Tina called him and said, ‘Do you have any break today? Are you off? Would you want to just walk by in the background as Kenneth?' He said sure. He had about a half an hour, he came down, wardrobe found some 1970s wide lapel brown suit. He was all ready to go, he was just going to do a background walk-by, but he had to get back to rehearsal. We couldn't get the shot. We had him on set," Carlock said.

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"You can do with that what you will for the people in the future to look for him," Carlock said. "Hopefully one of these days we can make that happen and let those two worlds crossover, which is complicated…It might be unsustainable from a logic point."

But, there are shows like Law & Order: SVU where actors have taken on several different roles over the years, there are now perps playing detectives."Well then we'll call it the Law & Order rule then, that's good to know," Carlock said. "They've been very successful, I don't know if you knew that."

No Kenneth, but there was a the reference to a 30 Rock character that made the cut when Titus (Tituss Burgess) references a fake boyfriend named D'Fwan, the name of his 30 Rock character that is.

"We suggested he date somebody who looked exactly like himself, or there are just a lot of D'Fwans out there," Carlock told E! News about the reference. Burgess said he read that in the script and laughed. "They gave a little nod to themselves I suppose, but also to me, that was certainly a very fun time in my life, playing D'Fwan on 30 Rock," Burgess said. "I read that and I thought, ‘You guys are so silly. Of all the people that I could fake date,' but it was fun. I was like, ‘Will D'Fwan show up?'"

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season three is now streaming.

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