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30 Rock Takes Another Little Piece of Port Arthur

One of the only things Rocks Off loves as much as Tom Petty and chicken-fried steak is NBC's brilliant, multiple Emmy-winning 30 Rock, which he thinks is the best TV comedy since The Larry Sanders Show. Now he loves it even more after last night's deliciously twisted episode, "Senor Macho Solo."

Besides baby-crazy lead Liz Lemon's (Tina Fey) ill-fated romance with a dwarf (Peter Dinklage, The Station Agent) after mistaking him for a child, and her boss Jack Donaghy's (Alec Baldwin) testicular-cancer scare that landed him in the arms of Salma Hayek, the episode's other subplot centers around ditzy actress Jenna Maroney's (Jane Krakowski) efforts to land the title role in a Janis Joplin biopic.   

Of course, this is a wry take-off on the dueling Joplin movies that have been circulating around Hollywood for years; according to, The Gospel According to Janis is scheduled to come out in 2010 starring Yes Man's Zooey Deschanel, who reportedly beat out Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan for the role (thank God). After Jenna convinces Donaghy to give her the role of Joplin (NBC's fictional parent company, the Scheinhardt Wig Corporation, is producing the film), her hopes are dashed when she finds out Martin Scorsese and Julia Roberts are collaborating on another Janis picture.

Nevertheless, Jenna  - and kudos to Krakowski for a hilariously boozy Joplin impression, bottle of Jack in hand and everything - convinces Jack and Liz to let her open variety-show-within-a-sitcom The Girlie Show in character with a Joplin number. The only problem is, Jack is unable to secure the music rights to "Take Another Little Piece of My Heart," so he hastily rewrites the lyrics to "take another little piece of my lung," which Jenna sings as "Janis Jopler."

All this is enough to convince Rocks Off that 30 Rock must have a southeast Texan on its writing staff somewhere. In the first-season episode "Cleveland," Jack cautions Liz against moving to Cleveland with her boyfriend (SNL's Jason Sudeikis) thusly: "Every getaway has that moment where you want to pack it in and stay. That's how I ended up with a time-share in... Port Arthur, Texas." - Chris Gray

[Note: Watch "Senor Macho Solo" here.] 

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray