No one would ever have to ask Jane Krakowski what her astrological sign is. She’s a die-hard Libra, always looking for balance in everything she does.
Take her gig as vain actress Jenna Maroney on the Emmy-winning sitcom “30 Rock”: The show’s New York location has allowed her to juggle Broadway (she won raves as the vamp Lola in “Damn Yankees” last summer) with TV. Even her stage name was a nice compromise: When everyone kept pronouncing the silent J in her family name Krajkowski, out came the J.
Season Two: Episode 10
Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Scott Adsit, Jack McBrayer, Rachel Dratch
Regular airtime: Thursdays, 8:30 pm ET
US: 10 Jan 2008
Co-starring with Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and the rest of the “30 Rock” crew has been “a dream job” for Krakowski, who’s certainly had her share of choice roles since skating her way to stardom in Broadway’s “Starlight Express” in 1987. Along the way, Krakowski picked up a Tony Award for playing Antonio Banderas’ sultry mistress in “Nine” and became a household name as nosy secretary Elaine Vassal on TV’s “Ally McBeal.”
Krakowski recently chatted by phone with Newsday’s Daniel Bubbeo about “30 Rock,” channeling her inner rock star and growing up as a community theater baby.
Q. When I interviewed your co-star Jack McBrayer last year, he said to get more people to watch “30 Rock” he wanted to create a scandal and it would involve costumes and phone calls to authority. Do you have any ideas?
A. I would like to start a sex scandal. It’s been a slow build, but this year we’ve had our largest audience, and they’ve consistently been getting larger. Maybe by season 5 we’ll have a solid audience. Viewing habits and polling for ratings has changed. When they take in who watches on the Internet, DVRs and all those other things, we’re very high.
Q. You weren’t actually the first choice to play Jenna, were you?
A. In the pilot, Rachel Dratch was playing Jenna. I was very lucky in the sense that when Tina called me to read, I had already seen the pilot, so I was able to get a taste of the humor they were going for. ... And what’s great is that the role has shifted a lot to cater more to me and what I do. Tina originally wanted someone to be an opposite foil for her. Someone who was more actressy, kooky, self-absorbed. Then Tina started working in more of my other talents. She worked in my singing and dancing. ... Tina’s husband, Jeff Richmond, writes all of the original songs for me. “Mystic Pizza: The Musical” was a perfect send-up of my world of Broadway. If I’m ever lucky enough to be part of an awards tribute, I hope they play “Muffin Top” in my little clip. That’s how I want to be remembered.
Q. And now they have you playing a version of Janis Joplin. Are you a fan of her music?
A. I am thrilled with that story line. ... I’m a huge fan and once that story line was written, I watched everything on YouTube, especially her Dick Cavett interviews. Of course, Jenna is putting her own wacky spin on it.
Q. You’ve had some incredible guest stars this season. Is there anyone you were especially impressed by?
A. I’m amazed just by who is showing up all the time. ... The people coming on are all fans of the show. If Tina knows there’s someone who might want to be on the show, she comes up with something for them. Oprah coming was probably the big highlight for us. ... Now I’d like to see if we can get Obama to come on.
Q. Your parents were very active in theater when you were growing up. Is that how you got the acting bug?
A. My parents were involved in community theater in New Jersey. Instead of hiring a baby-sitter, they would take me with them. So my love of acting seeped in from watching my parents and seeing them having fun. ... When I was very little, I was in “A Christmas Carol,” and my mom was Mrs. Cratchit. I also was in “Gypsy,” and my dad was Herbie. Every time there was a part for a kid, they would see if they could sneak me in.
Q. Is it true that growing up you not only would watch the Tony Awards every year, but then you would record them and watch them all year-round?
A. Oh, yes. We always VHSed them and saved them. Then on a rainy day, I would just say to my dad, “Let’s watch Patti LuPone’s number from ‘Evita.’” The Tony Awards was like the Super Bowl in my house.
Q. Last summer you did “Damn Yankees” during your hiatus from “30 Rock.” Any plans to do another Broadway show this year?
A. I was in talks to do a play during this break, but we won’t be able get it together in time. But I would grab the opportunity. I love doing theater. Doing “Damn Yankees” re-energized me for “30 Rock” this year. If I could do theater during the hiatus and then do “30 Rock” in the winter, that would be my ideal job.
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