Last month, the news broke that 30 Rock creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock would be heading back to NBC with a brand new half-hour comedy series starring Ted Danson. What we didn’t know at the time was that this new series actually began its life as a legitimate 30 Rock spinoff, with Alec Baldwin reprising his role as Jack Donaghy. That show would have revolved around Jack running for mayor of New York City, but THR reports that after NBC was in talks with Baldwin for nearly a year, the actor pulled out of the project.
A reason isn’t quite given for why Baldwin backed out, but this isn’t the first time he’s done something like this. He was nearly cast as Thomas Wayne in Joker before pulling out a day after it was reported he was joining that Warner Bros. film.
But when Baldwin pulled out of this new yet-to-be-named series, Fey and Carlock still felt the premise was viable and went to Ted Danson to fill the role. The project was retooled to remove all references to 30 Rock, which was necessary anyway because the LA-based Danson declined to move to New York to make the show. But it’s not hard to see the Jack Donaghy parallels in the current premise: Danson plays a wealthy businessman who runs for mayor of Los Angeles for all the wrong reasons. Once Danson’s character wins, he has to figure out what he stands for, gain the respect of his staff, and connect with his teenage daughter, all while controlling the coyote population.
That daughter would likely have factored into the 30 Rock version of this show, as Jack had a very young daughter towards the end of that show’s run. And it’s also not hard to see the Trump parallels running heavily throughout this premise, although God knows Fey and Carlock will find a way to make this all hilarious and entertaining and slightly insane.
After 30 Rock, Fey and Carlock developed and shot the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for NBC, but the network had a change of heard after production had already begun. The episodes sold to Netflix, and we now know that series as a Netflix original, but it began as a standard network sitcom. So Fey and Carlock are no stranger to changes, and indeed once this new series ceased to be a 30 Rock spinoff, NBC decided it will air on the unnamed upcoming NBCUniversal streaming service—which will also be the exclusive home of The Office after that show’s Netflix deal expires.
Danson, meanwhile, is currently finishing up production on the final season of NBC’s critically acclaimed comedy series The Good Place, which returns this fall.