This morning, when I arrived for our regular production meeting, Soundcheck producers Joel Meyer and Katie Bishop were talking about some photo. They turned to me and asked, "Were you on 30 Rock last night?"
I looked at them like they had two heads (which, being two people, they did in fact have.) "We got a tweet saying that you were on 30 Rock last night." Soon, producer Gretta Cohn brought up on her computer a full-size screen shot of an old photo of me and my brothers Jerry (that's "Jerry From Queens" for you longtime Soundcheck listeners) and Jimmy, ages three, two and almost one.
I am the oldest of nine, yes nine siblings and this is one of the oldest photos in my family. I stood there with my mouth agape, wondering who was pranking me and how the hell they’d gotten this photo. Then the penny dropped.
Last night, when I came home, my wife Ellen was watching 30 Rock -- a show she doesn't generally watch. "Why do you have this on?” I asked. "Did you forget?" she asked. "Regina's house is in it."
Regina is one of my sisters, and yes, I had forgotten. The producers had chosen her house, which is literally across the street from my parents' house in Queens where we all grew up, to stand in for Liz Lemon's childhood home. The episode was almost over but Ellen said she had seen my sister's backyard (easily recognized by its chicken coop and rabbit hutch, both usually occupied by chickens and rabbits but empty for this show), and possibly her hallway. "It was like three seconds of house," my wife told me.
Well, apparently Ellen wasn't watching very carefully, because she knows that photo well. We have a copy of it at home, and when Jerry, Jimmy and I each had our first daughters within three years of each other, we had them pose for a re-staged, second generation version of the shot. But my cousin Greg apparently was watching carefully, and tweeted the Soundcheck crew to alert them that their host had just had his baby picture beamed into millions of American homes.
Oh, and by the way, I had called my mom last night to check in on my dad, who was in the hospital having a knee replaced, and she had been across the street with Regina and her family watching the show. Mom, who doesn't miss a trick, told me they had "changed the curtains and moved some of Regina's stuff around."
My own mother noticed the curtains but completely missed the photo -- the same photo she has kept on the wall for, well, a very long time. It’s so sad and lonely, this life as a child TV star.