Programming

Left Coast Bias: As Seen On TV

What does B&C Editor-in-Chief Ben Grossman have in common with 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon? Hint: Questionable taste in art. 2/07/2009 08:00:00 AM Eastern

If you watch and love 30 Rock, you are going to marvel at the creativity of my wife's Hanukkah gift to me, which showed up the other day. And given that I'm sick and tired of talking about the morbid news hammering our business, I'm using this space to remind us that sometimes it's just fun to be a TV fan.

Readers of this column know that I tend to be a little harsh on the missus here, and for that I do feel bad sometimes. The shots at her parents, though: no regrets whatsoever.

30 Rock PhotoOn Thursday nights, when we've put the two little monsters to sleep, we always plop down on the couch and flip on Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Say what you will about NBC's lineup right now, but this is the smartest comedy on television.

And in every scene in which Fey's Liz Lemon is in her office, hanging on the wall over her shoulder is a photograph that has mesmerized us for years.

There is no way to describe it but this, so pardon my candor: From a short distance it looks like two boobs. So much so that it was written into a storyline when an adoption agency lady came to interview Lemon, and Fey's character yanked it down off the wall.

For some reason, the wife and I have always wondered what the hell it actually was, just because it's so understatedly hilarious—at least for people at our 12-year-old maturity level.

So imagine how hard I laughed when the other day, a huge box showed up, and I opened it to find a framed print of that exact photo.

And if you were always wondering (and thus have no life like us), it is actually not breasts. It is two round thermostats.

I'm not sure what I was more impressed with: how my wife thought of the idea, or how she tracked it down. Turns out she knows someone at NBC, and convinced them to call someone, who called someone else, who called another person, who got hold of the set decorator.

With detective work like that, I am going to have to stop cheating on her with all those models tomorrow.

“That was pretty resourceful and tenacious of her,” said Jennifer Greenberg, 30 Rock's set decorator. I didn't tell Jennifer “tenacious” was a kind way to describe my lovely bride. Oh wait, I was being nice this week.

Anyway, I tracked down the photographer, Tarquin Cardona, to get to the bottom of where exactly the photo came from. Turns out he used to lunch at the same old restaurant in New York all the time, where he'd look at those two thermostats hanging next to each other and say to himself, “Wow, that's a graphic-looking image; I suppose you could say they look like something else.”

One day he walked in with his camera and shot the photo. And my wife was the first person to contact the show about it, so the one now hanging in my office is the only other one besides Liz Lemon's. How cool is that?

Again, we all know that it's raining hard on the television business and the forecast looks awful. But once in a while it's good to connect with the idea that drove many of us to work in this business: It's just fun to be a fan of television. And yes, even a fan of your spouse, too.

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