John Francis "Jack" Donaghy is a fictional character in the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. He is an NBC executive and a mentor to Liz Lemon. He is played by Alec Baldwin, who received two Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards for his portrayal of the character. Jack has a clear affinity for Liz, despite their ever-present conflicting moral values, which is a frequent source of friction in their relationship.
Jack Donaghy apparently did not have a very happy childhood. In "The Aftermath," he stated that, when he was two, his father lured him to the edge of a swimming pool with a puppy and pushed him in the pool. In "The Baby Show," he revealed that his mother, Colleen Murphy Donaghy, has nagged him his whole life and that, again when he was two, his father left the family. Young Jack took to calling his collie "Pop" until the dog was accidentally run over by the mailman and was left to die in the street by his mother, which caused him to cry. His mother even tried to send him to Vietnam when he was twelve to make a man out of him. He also played hockey and the flute as a child, prompting his mother to embarrass him by having him play "The Star-Spangled Banner" on said flute in front of his team. In "The Head and the Hair," he says he put himself through an unidentified Boston-area college (possibly Harvard Business School) by working as a swan boat operator. (His time as a swan boat operator is alluded to again in Season 1, Episode 4 when he mentions hitting someone with a motor boat.) Donaghy attended Princeton University at some point. In at least one episode, he is seen wearing a Princeton t-shirt. In "The Baby Show", one of Jack's phone calls with his mother ended up with him yelling and beating the head of the phone on the receiver until it shattered, prompting him to yell "Jonathan! These cheap phones keep on shattering!" Jack is known to own an entire building filled with appartments that he kept buying from below.
Post college, Jack worked as an intern for Senator Ted Kennedy, where Jack developed an extremely liberal political world-view. At some point, through as-yet unexplained means, he underwent a complete reversal of his philosophy.
In the years after working for Senator Kennedy, Jack, in his own words from "Jack-tor," "thrived" on fear, bow hunting Polar Bear, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, once driving a rental car into the Hudson River to practice escaping, showering with Greta Van Susteren and, in "The Break-Up," he claimed to have overcome a peanut allergy through sheer willpower. Jack married an Italian woman named Bianca, with whom he apparently made love on the floor of the Concorde shortly after their wedding, though he claims his mother deliberately had a heart attack to prevent him from going on his honeymoon. He and Bianca were eventually legally separated in 1989 because, in his words, he "couldn't keep up with her on any level." Though they weren't legally divorced, Jack went on to introduce Bianca as though they were.
After years of market research, he finally made his "greatest triumph" in the form of the Trivection oven, a product he claims to have created at General Electric. It was on the strengths of the trivection oven that, in mid 2006, he was promoted to his current position, replacing the recently deceased Gary, apparently making his official title the "Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming". Jack was the catalyst for bringing Tracy Jordan onboard the NBC sketch show The Girlie Show, despite head writer Liz Lemon's objections. Jack made sure that Tracy was the main star and got the show's name changed to TGS with Tracy Jordan by bribing a test audience with pizza.
The changes did not sit well with Jenna Maroney, who was furious at Liz for allowing it to happen after giving in to Jack's demands. In fact, Jack doesn't think of Jenna as a priority to the show, citing her ill-fated stint as a spokesperson for ShopRite, and has gone as far as replacing her appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien with Tracy just as she was going to promote her new film, The Rural Juror.
In the "The Baby Show," it is shown that his mother still constantly calls him and that she now wants to move in with him from her retirement home, which has rocks made of foam since she tends to fall down a lot, in Orlando, Florida. However, at the end of the episode, he blackmails Josh Girard into taking all his mother's calls for him for the rest of Josh's life (Jack says that his mother will outlive Josh - "she's like Castro."), since Josh has a flawless "Jack Donaghy" impersonation.
In the episode "Black Tie" Bianca showed up and he passed Liz off as his girlfriend in order to make Bianca jealous. When Liz pretended Jack had proposed to her, Bianca attacked her and Jack was finally satisfied that Bianca still wanted him. In the episode "Up All Night," he and Bianca were finally officially divorced after eighteen years of legal separation. Jack acquired an Arby's franchise in Telluride, Colorado in the divorce settlement.
In the wake of the fireworks fiasco, Jack was demoted to "Vice President of East Coast Television" when CEO Don Geiss took his "Microwave Oven Programming" duties away from him,although a comment to Liz Lemon suggests that it may have been given back to him. At some point, he wrote a book entitled Jack Attack: The Art of Aggression in Business.
Acting on Don Geiss' advice, Jack has gotten himself engaged to Christie's auctioneer Phoebe. However, Liz later discovered that Phoebe was actually an unscrupulous gold digger. Jack, however, refused to believe this since Phoebe had told him that Liz was infatuated with him and he has decided to continue with their wedding. The situation was resolved in the season finale "Hiatus." Also in "Hiatus", Jack's middle name is revealed to be Francis.
In the episode Succession, Don Geiss tells Jack that he is going to be the next CEO of GE. However, later in the same episode, Geiss slips into a diabetic coma, and Devon Banks installs his fiance, Don Geiss' developmentally disabled daughter as CEO of GE. In the episode Reunion, Geiss wakes up. However, he claims he was visited by a beam of energy, and says that he is staying on as CEO.
Jack later married Avery Jessup and had a child with her named Liddy. Liddy was born while Avery and Jack were in Canada, so she will never be able to become the POTUS. Avery and Jack got divorced after both of them had affairs while Avery was trapped in North Korea. Jack's affair was with Avery's mother, adding more tension to the situation.
Jack is portrayed as a slick, yet scrupulous network executive with an affinity for overtly backhanded compliments, which are usually directed towards Liz Lemon. Although his first priority is to run a successful business, Jack has often shown a human side, as when he didn't fire Kenneth after beating him at poker when Kenneth bet his job and he has made it clear that he respects Liz' abilities, albeit by calling for her advice at odd times. In "Jack the Writer" especially, he tried to develop a friendly relationship with the writers, particularly Liz, and made it clear that his feelings were hurt when Liz told him to stay out of the writers' room (although he apparently couldn't let go of his pride to say this directly.)
However, he still has distinct personality flaws. For example, in "The Aftermath," he changed the name of The Girlie Show without even consulting Liz and then refused to tell Jenna that Liz had nothing to do with it on the grounds that he thought Liz needed to learn how to handle her employees. After he found out a product he helped create for Tracy Jordan was dangerous in "The Rural Juror," he decided to sell it overseas in order to get around U.S. safety regulations. At the very least, however, he said he admired Tracy's integrity for choosing to back out of the enterprise.
Jack is a Republican (he appears to be a supporter of Mitt Romney) and a firm believer in capitalism, stating in "The Baby Show" that "business gets me off" and in "Hard Ball" that negotiation is his favorite thing in the world since it's, in his words, "the essence of capitalism." Jack's business background clashed with the show's staff when he insisted on having the show use product placement (or "product integration" as he calls it) in the episode "Jack-tor." Citing Six Sigma, Jack has also tried to involve himself with the staff. Much to Liz' annoyance, he has even tried to "help" her with issues in her personal life, as seen in "Blind Date" and "Jack Meets Dennis," his reasoning being that the quality of her life will reflect the quality of her work. In "The Source Awards," he started his own winery "Donaghy Estates" after purchasing a vineyard on the north fork of Long Island. Despite the wine being reviewed in Robert Parker's Wine Newsletter as tasting like "the urine of Satan after a hefty portion of asparagus," he attempted to market it to the hip-hop community as a replacement for Cristal champagne. In "Corporate Crush" Liz states he goes to the New York Stock Exchange when he's horny. Ironically, in "Greenzo", Al Gore states that Jack was once an intern for Ted Kennedy and "he was so liberal" before getting cut off by Jack.
Jack is shown to be very formal. So far, he has almost always appeared on the show in suits and in "Tracy Does Conan" it's revealed that he insists on wearing tuxedos after 6:00 PM regardless of whether there's any kind of occasion. In contrast, Liz and the other writers wear casual clothing most of the time and appear to be generally laid-back. A line by Liz in the episode "Jack-tor" suggests that he finds Asian women in their twenties especially attractive though he seems to be open to dating women of other races. As evidenced by "The C Word," he is apparently quite good at painting and, as revealed in "The Fighting Irish," he is Irish Catholic, naming his fists after St. Patrick and St. Michael. He apparently dyes his hair and is, in his own words, "a gifted flautist". Jack collected cookie jars and displayed them at conventions using the alias "Victor Nightingale." He gave his collection to Kenneth when a PI told him that it could hurt his chances at getting Geiss' job.
In "Corporate Crush", Liz mentions that he "goes to Sbarro when he's angry, the New York Stock Exchange when he's horny, and Christie's when he's depressed."
Jack comes from a very eccentric, Irish-American family characterized by a great deal of drama and infighting. His family includes:
- Jimmy (Brian Murray) - Jack's father (his name is never stated) is closely allied with Eddie. Jack considers both of them a disgrace to the Donaghy name, which his father pronounces "Dona-Hee." Jack also believes his father belongs in the "Smiling Irish Bastard Hall Of Fame"
- Colleen (Elaine Stritch) - Jack's overbearing mother who lives a Florida retirement home; her maiden name was Murphy, a family Jack considers to be "a bunch of mud farmers and sheep rapists"
- Eddie (Nathan Lane) - Jack's brother with whom he's been in constant rivalry with years; Eddie, who apparently works as a swindler, pronounces their surname "Donahe". It is revealed that they both played very harsh tricks on each other during their childhood, such as Eddie blinding Jack with a bottle rocket, and Jack microwaving Eddie's parakeet (To Eddie's response of "I hated that bird").
- Patrick (Boris McGiver) - another brother
- Patricia (Siobhan Fallon) - a sister of Jack's
- Katherine Catherine (Molly Shannon) - another sister of Jack's; married to a man named Bobby
- Margaret (Alice Kremelberg) - a teenage relative seen sitting silently and scowling through the family reunion; She is implied to be his sister.
- Tim Donaghy - Jack's cousin, a former NBA referee who bet and/or fixed professional basketball games.
- Avery Jessup-Donaghy - Wife
- Liddy Donaghy-baby daughter, by him and Avery
Celebrity love interests
A recurring joke made on the show regards Jack dating women who are celebrities or powerful figures in the media. Jack always hints that he is having or has had a relationship with these women, but it is never spelled out completely. These women include:
- Greta Van Susteren (implied in "Jack-Tor", "showered with.")
- Condoleezza Rice (implied in "The Break-Up", confirmed in "The Source Awards")
- Maureen Dowd (implied in "The Rural Juror")
- Elizabeth Hurley (insinuated in "Black Tie")
- Beyoncé Knowles (insinuated in "Black Tie")
- Martha Stewart (insinuated in "Black Tie")
- Alexis Stewart (insinuated in "Black Tie")
- Shakira (insinuated in "Black Tie")
- Katie Couric (mentioned in "The C Word")
- A member of "The Black Crusaders", a group of powerful black celebrities (mentioned in "Hiatus"; probably refers to Rice)
- Kathy Hilton (mentioned in "The Natural Order")
- episode "MILF Island"
- A longstanding part of GE's corporate culture is a philosophy of moving executives to new divisions every few years. Thus, NBC routinely receives new executives with little or no previous experience with the television industry. For example, Bob Wright- the network's longtime CEO- came to NBC in 1986 with GE's acquisition of RCA after a lengthy career with various GE divisions.
- This is based on 407 area code given in "The Baby Show."
- Corporate Crush
- episode "Rosemary's Baby"
- episode "The Source Awards"
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