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'30 Rock' Live: On the scene at the dress rehearsal

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tina-fey SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen tonight’s live episode of 30 Rock, avert your eyes, click back and don’t read this until you have!

For those who did, we can share all the behind-the-scenes scoop we collected during the dress rehearsal for tonight’s taping. Let’s begin!

Like any live show, the night kicked off with a warm-up comic, Joey Kola, who got things rolling with topical humor (Chilean miners + Lindsay Lohan = should we laugh?) before introducing some very special musical guests.

In a welcome surprise, the show’s Cheyenne Jackson and Jane Krakowski each took their turn to belt out a tune—Jackson with Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” (boy has lungs!) and Krakowski with a saucy rendition of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” But Krakowski had a near wardrobe malfunction when the belt on her dress popped off for a quick second, right before she launched into the iconic Tina Turner jig.

Musical numbers aside, the actual rehearsal wasn’t so much practice as it was an exact run-through. No scripts held during scenes, barely any mistakes – only Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin seemed to make noticeable flubs – and of course production left time for commercials.

And even though we knew Matt Damon and Jon Hamm would be appearing in tonight’s episode, we didn’t see them, or perfectly cast guest star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, during the cast introduction or initial hub-bub before taping – only when their scenes was being prepped. Off screen, Damon rehearsed lines before the airport scene and had some laughs while watching the rest of the cast’s bits.

Liz-Dr. Drew lovers will agree that it was sad not to see Tina Fey and Hamm get screen time together, but the Mad Men actor and Bill Hader, who played co-pilot to Damon, had their own fun, goofing around right up until cameras rolled for the SNL-style goodbye.

Everything else, on the other hand, seemed to move at lightning speed, whether it was getting Krakowski out of her Fox News anchor wig or whisking Louis-Dreyfus to a different set piece. Speaking of the Seinfeld star, when she moved to the stage for the goodbye, she nearly slipped on the pulverized cake on the ground. Fortunately, a confectionary crisis was averted.

Of course we looked for famous faces in the audience, and the only one we could spot was Baldwin’s brother Stephen, who sat front and center. Lorne Michaels was also seen milling about behind the cameras. After the show, Maulik Pancholy (Jonathan), Judah Friedlander (Frank) and John Lutz (Lutz) stood in the lobby as the audience passed through to greet their loved ones. Sadly, no Fey, (Alec) Baldwin or Hamm sightings post-show. Blerg!

What did you guys think of the episode? Did 30 Rock pull off the high-risk-often-low-reward TV stunt known as the live episode?

Photo: Art Streiber/NBC

Originally posted October 14 2010 — 9:01 PM EDT

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