Or, in less histrionic terms, B.J. Novak got a book deal.
As the New York Times reports, Novak has signed a two-book deal with Knopf worth seven figures, with the first book — a collection of stories — due in 2014. NBD, though, cause it's already been written. Says Novak's agent Richard Abate, "The closest analogy for me is Woody Allen. Underneath these stories is a real intellectual curiosity. I think their appeal is that they’re incredibly accessible and comic, but at the same time they’re exploring the modern condition." And if you've caught Novak live, you may have gotten yourself a sneak preview. THR says the stories will be adapted from "a series of live shows he performed at Upright Citizens Brigade." They also point out that Novak's deal gives a masculine spin to the recent trend of high-profile book projects from funny people, which includes Abate's clients Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey, plus upcoming joints from Amy Poehler and Lena "The $3.5 Million Woman" Dunham.
I remember hearing Tina Fey say something along the lines that the reason she didn't stand on camera side-by-side with Sarah Palin when the esteemed former governor appeared on Saturday Night Live was that she knew that one photo — Tina as Palin, with Palin as Palin — would be the one they'd use for her obituary. But in the nearly five years since she was trotting out the impersonation on the regs, the Tina/Sarah connection has died down to the point where, when James Lipton asked her on Inside the Actors Studio to revive the ol' gal, Fey was actually down. Lipton interviewed Fey in character for a few minutes, and almost got aggy a couple of times. (Let it be known that James Lipton does not abide Sarah Palin-via-Tina Fey's political opinions!) Meanwhile, Fey played ball superbly, improv-ing perfectly daffy answers. On gun control: "I believe that if everybody had guns, then there would be fewer guns in the stores." On same-sex marriage: "Well, the Bible says it's gross." Yeah, Tina Fey probably just opened herself up to six more months of people coming up to her at parties and asking for a "You betcha!" But it was worth it.
This is the full text of an article that was posted by E! Online today. It was accompanied by a picture of Taylor Swift making her way out of a vehicle. (Interpretive annotations are my own.)
Taylor Swift was spotted in Los Angeles on Wednesday as she made her way out of a vehicle. [Tell me more!]
Casually dressed [in a transparent effort to spite her tormentors], the country cutie stepped out on the same day [coincidence!?!?!?!?] that Tina Fey told a photographer to “go f--k yourself" [So not casual of her!] when asked about Swift's remark that she and Amy Poehler are destined for Hades. [Do you like how relevant these details are to Taylor getting out of that car?]
Here is a crowd-sourced Dunder Mifflin ad that will air during the Super Bowl in Scranton, and only in Scranton.
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The cult of TV brilliance, like a runner on third with less than two outs, demands sacrifice. What unites classic, obsessed-over shows like Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, and Arrested Development isn't just their sparkling dialogue; it's their martyrdom. All three were shows that had plenty of time to be great but not nearly enough to disappoint. The unrealized promise of all the jokes and seasons we, as fans, were denied helps prop up the legend and maintain the purity of the sect. It's not enough to love the episodes we did get; one must also burn with resentment for all the ones we were denied. Like James Dean, Kurt Cobain, or Four Loko, the most fiercely beloved TV shows tend to be the ones that died too soon.
But not 30 Rock. Despite ticking all the boxes for early cancellation — too smart, too funny, too New York (at least it wasn't burdened with Justin Bartha) — 30 Rock is the rare cult show that survived. No — it thrived. For seven seasons it churned out brilliant jokes with the efficacy and precision of a finely calibrated fart machine. It invented holidays and catchphrases. It tangled bravely with race and ludicrously with celebrity. Snakes were tamed and sharks were loosed. Ghostface Killah rapped about muffins. Muppets sang at a funeral. At its worst it was good. At its best it was transcendent. It's not enough to say that 30 Rock didn't die. Its whole life was thunder.
In this golden age of television, there sometimes enters a character who shifts all former expectations; a small-screen presence who shines through the flimsy edifice we call a human body to reveal the truth: that we are just wriggling brain stems driven by our insane lusts. Television has long been supplanting the novel as the medium we turn to for long-form narrative investigations into public personas and true selves, and among its gallery of modern antiheroes, one complex yet subtle figure stands alone: Jenna Maroney. Jenna (pronounced Jenn-ahh) was 30 Rock's secret weapon in a show stocked with them. Jane Krakowski, formerly known best for playing ditzy Elaine on Ally McBeal, summoned everything from her lifetime walking the boards for her portrayal of Jenna: the ultimate actress.
On Sunday night, the Screen Actors Guild gathered its members at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium for its annual celebration of their shared craft, a delightful ceremony free of the annoying focus-pulling that plagues awards shows that insist on handing out statuettes to the unwashed masses who scratch out a living on the wrong side of the camera. Unfortunately, not every SAG Awards nominee gets to take home the coveted Actor, the highest honor thespians can receive from their brothers- and sisters-in-arms; for every five stars receiving the validation of a nomination, four will find themselves confronted with the challenge of making gritted teeth seem like a smile, and white-hot jealousy like warm magnanimity as the cameras mercilessly probe their reactions for any sign of disappointment. And so here we are, the morning after the Saggies (they don't call them the Saggies, but they should), to relive last night's victories through the faces of the defeated. When you're this good at your job, you can make misery look a lot like triumph. Well, most of the time.
After seven years, several serious-ish boyfriends, and countless offscreen episodes of TGS, Liz Lemon is a married woman. Last week's 30 Rock saw Liz making it legal with handsome slacker boyfriend Criss Chros (James Marsden). Liz eschewed her original plan to elope in sweats at City Hall in favor of a more formal event, replete with Tony Bennett and a Princess Leia bridal gown. You'll have to forgive me for replicating the famous Lemon eye-roll when I learned that Liz had secret white-wedding fantasies concealed under all her anti-romance bluster. It was somewhat trying to watch Liz realize that her tireless hatred of the culturally enforced marriage-industrial complex was a defensive reaction to her true heart's deepest wish, which just happened to be a ceremony like the ones on Bravo's Wedding Bitches. I found myself rooting for witness Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters) to pound on some glass and break up the wedding, The Graduate–style.
Sometimes, an idea seems to make so much sense that you can't really say anything other than yes, that makes so much sense. For example: NBC announced yesterday that power duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the twin rocks of its Thursday-night comedy lineup, will host the network's broadcast of this January's Golden Globes. The two crushed it together for two years on "Weekend Update," then got back together in 2008 to crush it in Baby Mama. Now they're both crushing it independently, on 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, while getting back together on various award-show stages to crush it from time to time.
Taylor Swift's Teen-Boy Love Triangle: "Taylor's insinuating herself into the Kennedy clan has taken a twisted turn." After taking on Jackie O's "prim-'n'-proper New England-chic, pearls-with-pleated-skirts" style and settling in at the Hyannis Port Kennedy Compound, "she's adding another Kennedy notch to her belt. Taylor was caught making out with Patrick Schwarzenegger — Conor's cousin — at a family event!" Swift would NEVER. "Taylor was making out with Patrick all night. The previous day she was all over Conor — so she hooked up with two cousins on consecutive nights!" Les Cousins Dangereux! "That sounds like risky business for the singer, who's been known to write songs about the two-timing men who've hurt her in the past." Turnabout is fair play? "Conor and Patrick have always been competitive" and Taylor loves feeling desired. But the older members of the clan do not want theatrics. "As far as the Kennedys are concerned, Taylor is trash. Conor says he's in love with her, but all she's done is cause drama." I guess another notch on her belt is all they'll ever be.
Christina Aguilera: Xtina "is still a boozing mess!" At Spago she "drank so much wine and champagne that she couldn't even walk to her car." Boyfriend Matt Rutler supported her on the way out to the car. "Christina loves to drink and has a problem with knowing when enough is enough. Matt has told Christina that she should slow down on the alcohol when they are at dinners, but she gets mad and tells him she'll do what she wants." She hates dieting and "lives off champagne and pasta. But she still believes she is healthy and doesn't think that she needs to work out." All she wants to do is drink her rosÚ!
Two highly anticipated albums from two big indie acts are streaming this week, ahead of their July 10 due date. First we have Swing Lo Magellan, from the Dirty Projectors, their first release since 2009's adored Bitte Orca. Recorded in a secluded house in upstate New York, Magellan finds lead Projector David Longstreth pushing his military-precision band into bigger, brighter territory. And while I haven’t actually gotten a chance to listen to the whole thing yet, from the sound of the humming on explosive opening track "Offspring Are Blank," it would appear that a big influence on Longstreth during the recording process was Crash Test Dummies?
Every week in this space, Grantland pop culture correspondent Andy Greenwald will run down the happenings and mishappenings in NBC’s Thursday comedy night done mostly right. (Note: The order reflects newsworthiness, not quality. Although occasionally the two just might overlap.)
1. Parks and Recreation
“Lucky” was everything that’s good about Parks and Recreation — warm humor, subtle character beats, sly satire — which, unfortunately, are very often the same things that keep people from realizing the show’s greatness. Sure, it’s hard to maintain a finely tuned joke machine like 30 Rock or a creaky, but still seaworthy, ocean liner like The Office. But to my mind, what Parks is doing is even more difficult: consistently making us laugh while still drawing us in. The jokes on Parks are always inclusive, the pace gentle instead of manic. It’s a show deeply informed by a love of traditional sitcoms like Cheers, where the goal was to make viewers feel welcome, not necessarily dazzled.