Our fickle friend, the summer wind will soon be blowing its way back across the sea, taking with it our memories of warm days spent softly musing on who would replace Steve Carell on The Office, and leaving us facing only a cold winter with no such reverie regarding the star of an NBC Thursday night sitcom. Or so we thought, until we were reminded that Alec Baldwin has announced, repeatedly, that he’s leaving after this season of 30 Rock, a statement that we keep chuckling at patronizingly and chalking up to Baldwin’s typical irascibility.
But we know that’s just denial, and both NBC chief Bob Greenblatt and 30 Rock producer Lorne Michaels have already moved well past that stage into bargaining and even acceptance, making recent statements to the New York Times like Greenblatt’s “I’d love nothing more than to have Alec for the duration of the show. That’s my goal. Let’s see what we get,” and Michaels’ “I would hope he would want to go on, but we’re going to keep doing the show.” Hopefully these appeals to Baldwin’s pride are enough to spur him to stick around, and avoid all those terrible proposed plotlines he once pitched from becoming spiteful reality.
Anyway, Baldwin still has until midseason to think about it, as Tina Fey’s pregnancy has delayed 30 Rock’s premiere until then. (Thanks a ton, unborn baby.) In the meantime, Michaels is keeping Baldwin close by: He’s tapped him to be the host of Saturday Night Live’s fall premiere, giving him a record-setting 16 appearances. That’s one more than friendly rival Steve Martin—who will probably make a “surprise cameo” during Baldwin’s monologue to challenge that, because that’s how SNL works.