The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'30 Rock' closer: 'Milton Green, Milton Green, he needs a kidney!'

May 15, 2009 |  1:24 pm

If you haven't seen the sly "We Are the World" spoof that provides a clever closer for "30 Rock's" season finale, you haven't seen TV's most imaginative use of a host of pop stars in ages. For anyone that hasn't been following "30 Rock" lately, Tina Fey's boss Jack Donaghy (that's Alec Baldwin) has been reunited with his long-lost biological father, only to discover that dad--Milton Green, played by Alan Alda--needs a kidney transplant. Jack isn't a match--and knowing Jack, would he really give up a kidney anyway? So he does what network bosses do best, ruthlessly pulling in favors left and right to assemble a superstar cast of musicians for a "Kidney Now!" fundraiser.

When Elvis Costello initially refuses to commit, Donaghy breezily plays the blackmail card, saying, "Elvis--or should I say Declan MacManus, international art thief?" That's enough to get Costello to join in, along with a vast assortment of big-name talent, ranging from Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow and Norah Jones to Moby, Maroon 5's Adam Levine, Steve Earle, Wyclef Jean and Michael McDonald (and his beard). The song itself is a hoot, highlighted by a wonderful spoken-word kidney donation pitch that begins with Costello saying: "Listen, when someone starts talking in the middle of a song, you know it's serious."

If there were ever any doubt that "30 Rock" is still on top of its game, this is a clincher: