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John Francis "Jack" Donaghy ( , ) is a fictional character in the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. His character is the Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming for General Electric.

He is played by Alec Baldwin, who has received two Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for his portrayal of the character.

Fictional character history

Jack Donaghy had an unhappy and impoverished 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, going so far as to blame him for John F. Kennedy's death and that, again when he was two, his father left the family. However, she would regularly trade sexual favors with Frederick August Otto Schwarz, Jr. for Christmas presents for Jack and his siblings. Young Jack took to calling his collie "Pop" until the dog was accidentally run over by the mailman and left to die in the street by his mother, which caused him to cry. The dog had earlier been neutered, causing Jack to charge his mother with "cutting off Pop's balls." 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. He was also the captain of the diving team. In "MILF Island," Jack says that he attended Princeton Universitymarker to earn his undergraduate degree, working his way through college by working "the day shift at a graveyard, and the graveyard shift at a Days Inn"; Michelle Obama had been one of his classmates there. He also mentions that after Princeton, he went to Harvardmarker (probably Harvard Business Schoolmarker) which he paid for by working as a swan boat operator. He is proud of his Ivy League degrees, and is seen in at least one episode 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!"

Post college, Jack worked as an intern for Senator Ted Kennedy, where Jack developed an extremely liberal political world-view. At some point, though as-yet unexplained, he underwent a complete reversal of his philosophy (Baldwin is well known in real life for his avowedly liberal political beliefs).

In the years after working for Senator Kennedy, Jack, in his own words from "Jack-tor," "thrived" on fear, bow hunting polar bears, climbing Mount Kilimanjaromarker, 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. In Subway Hero, Jack implied that he once practiced martial arts under Chuck Norris, but had a falling out after he switched to a different dojo. 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 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, Floridamarker. 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 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 "full stake in the Arby's franchises [he and Bianca] bought outside of Telluridemarker" 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 refused to believe this since Phoebe had told him that Liz was infatuated with him and he decided to continue with their wedding. The situation was resolved in the season finale "Hiatus," when Jack had a heart attack during an argument with his mother and Phoebe and came to the realization that he was not in love with Phoebe. Also in "Hiatus," Jack's middle name is revealed to be Francis.

At the start of season two, Jack has recovered from his heart attack and becomes a candidate to succeed Don Geiss as CEO of GE, competing against arch-rival, and Vice-President of West Coast Television Devon Banks, who, despite being openly gay, has gotten engaged to Geiss' bizarre daughter Kathy. Jack begins a relationship with liberal Congresswoman Celeste "CC" Cunnigham. In spite of their ideological differences, they are a well-matched pair and after a period of secrecy, eventually go public. Their bliss does not last long as their long-distance relationship begins to negatively affect both their jobs, and they break up. Later in the season, Jack wins the coveted job of Geiss's replacement, only to lose it when Geiss slips into a diabetic coma. Banks makes a power grab, convincing the board of directors that the CEO's seat should stay with the family and getting his fiancee Kathy appointed, with Banks as the power behind the throne. Jack is demoted and humiliated, and leaves GE for a position in George W. Bush's administration. This proves to be hopeless, and Jack attempts to get himself fired. He succeeds this by funding a "gay bomb," a weapon that would cause enemy soldiers to "go totally gay bones for each other." The chemical warfare is accidentally released in a secret war bunker, and it is implied that Jack has sex with Dick Cheney. This implication is furthered when Jack confesses his sins to an ill-prepared priest in "St. Valentine's Day."

Season Three saw Jack starting again at GE - in the mailroom, and working his way up to the top again. Jack contemplates sleeping with the bizarre Kathy Geiss to save the company from Devon's plan to shut GE down completely for two years, but is able to avoid this with Liz' help. In the end, Kathy signs a contract making Jack her main business advisor, and Devon runs away like a maniac. Don Geiss emerged from his coma shortly thereafter, but stunned Jack with the news that he'd decided to stay on as GE's chairman after all. Jack remains in his position as head of NBC, telling Liz Lemon how many times an episode she can use the phrase "Cat Anus."

After accidentally breaking both of his mother's hips, Jack is forced to allow her to move in with him. He hires an attractive Puerto Rican nurse, Elisa, to care for her, and falls in love with her. He proposed and she confessed to murdering her husband after he cheated. They did not marry.

At the end of Season Three Jack discovers that Jimmy Donaghy is not his real father. Similar to Mamma Mia, Jack finds that he has three possible fathers. Liz invites them to TGS saying they won a contest and Jacks quickly finds that his father is Milton Greene, a Bennington College professor. Getting in an argument with Milton about politics, he says to Liz that he does not want to tell Milton but Liz convinces him otherwise. Milton is happy to find out but tells Jack he needs a kidney or he will die. Jack, who does not want to give a kidney, finds that he is not a match and organizes a "We Are the World"-type charity called "Kidney Now" with celebrities singing a song that asks anyone who is a match to give Milton a kidney.

In Season Four, Devin Banks comes back at Jack with a revenge plan involving the United States government trying to shut down GE. Jack is able to get out of it and it is not known what happens to Devin.

Personality

Jack is portrayed as a slick, yet scrupulous network executive with an affinity for overtly backhanded compliments, which are usually directed towards TGS head writer Liz Lemon (whom he always refers to by her last name). 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 consulting Liz and then refused to tell Jenna that Liz had nothing to do with it because he thought Liz needed to learn how to handle her employees. After he discovered that a product he helped create for Tracy Jordan was dangerous in "The Rural Juror," he decided to sell it overseas 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 (initially supporting Mitt Romney). However, he is apparently tolerant of homosexuality (setting Liz Lemon up on a date with his lesbian friend) . He is a firm believer in capitalism, stating in "The Baby Show" that "business gets me off", in "Hard Ball" that negotiation is his favorite thing in the world since it's, in his words, "the essence of capitalism." In "St. Valentine's Day", he refers to capitalism as his religion. 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 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 Islandmarker. 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. 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 (though he appears to have relaxed this custom in later seasons, often appearing in a normal business suit well after 6:00pm.) In contrast, Liz and the other writers wear casual clothing most of the time and appear 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 Exchangemarker when he's horny, and Christie's when he's depressed."

In "Gavin Volure," it revealed that Jack writes historical fiction.

Family

Jack comes from a very eccentric, Irish-American family characterized by a great deal of drama and infighting. His family includes:

  • Jimmy Donaghy ( , ; Brian Murray) – Jack's father is closely allied with Eddie. Jack considers both of them a disgrace to the Donaghy name (which he pronounced differently than Jack). Jack also believes his father belongs in the "Smiling Irish Bastard Hall Of Fame". It is later revealed that Jimmy is not Jack's biological father, as he was absent when Jack was conceived. Jack's mother had a sexual relationship with a man named Milton Green during this time, making him Jack's biological father.
  • Colleen Donaghy (Elaine Stritch) – Jack's overbearing mother who lives in a Floridamarker retirement home; her maiden name was Murphy, a family Jack considers to be "a bunch of mud farmers and sheep rapists". Despite Colleen being overbearing she actually likes Liz Lemon(in the episode "Hiatus"), she mistook Liz for Jack's fiacee which was actually Phoebe, when Jack told her that it wasn't Liz that he was marrying, Colleen's response was "Why the hell not?"
  • Eddie Donaghy ( , ; Nathan Lane) – Jack's brother with whom he's been in constant rivalry with years, who apparently works as a swindler. 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"). He also thinks that Liz is "a very beautiful woman...if you [Liz] didn't scowl so much."
  • Patrick Donaghy (Boris McGiver) – another brother.
  • Patricia Donaghy (Siobhan Fallon) – a sister of Jack's.
  • Katherine Catherine Donaghy (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 illegitimate sister, but it is also mentioned that she "certainly has Mom's smile."
  • Tim – Jack's cousin, a former NBA referee who bet and/or fixed professional basketball games.
  • Milton Green (Alan Alda) - Jack's biological father, as revealed in "Mama Mia". Milton is a professor at Bennington College, and is in desperate need of a new kidney.


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:



References

  1. episode "Christmas Special"
  2. episode "Christmas Special"
  3. episode "Reunion"
  4. 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.
  5. This is based on 407 area code given in "The Baby Show."
  6. Corporate Crush
  7. Blind Date
  8. first name revealed in episode "Goodbye, My Friend"
  9. episode "Rosemary's Baby"
  10. episode "The Source Awards"


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