Think NBC Universal’s Green is Universal initiative is all for show? Technically, yes it is, for many shows, but as MNN learned on a special studio tour last week, NBCU has gone green -- and strives to go greener -- off camera at the company’s famed 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters, too.
On the green tour of 30 Rock, MNN learned that for NBC Universal, promoting eco-awareness isn’t just a one-month-a-year deal. It’s a year-round cause with more than 200 hours of environmentally themed content airing across all 40 NBCU brands including Bravo, the USA Network and CNBC. NBCU’s commendable eco-efforts have been duly noted and we find it quite exciting. But you know what we really found exciting? Stepping foot in the longtime home of Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock’s Studio 8H.
On the tour, we were pleased to discover that SNL has some serious eco-cred aside from the occasional Al Gore appearance and the recycling of Alec Baldwin as guest host. The show frequently reuses sets (they’re built and stored offsite in Brooklyn) instead of building new ones. When new sets are built, they’re built from certified Forest Stewardship Council luan plywood. And where do those cue cards go after they’re used? Certainly not the trash -- they’re subbed in for plastic drop cloths when sets are being painted. What amazed us most, aside from all the behind-the-scenes green SNL tidbits, is how small the studio actually is. When you’re working with limited space eight floors up in the iconic GE building, it’s hard not to be resourceful and conservation-minded.
While the fabled home of “Weekend Update” has gone green, downstairs on third and fourth floors of the 30 Rock building, the real news has gotten a whole lot greener, too. Many of the studios and newsrooms are lighted with LEDs and decked out with bamboo flooring. Newsroom staffers use non-disposable coffee mugs and water bottles and even the scripts for the Nightly News have been trimmed down from 50 to 10 pages in order to conserve paper.
It’s Studio 6B, however, that’s the real sustainable showstopper. The studio, home to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, was redesigned with Mother Nature in mind before the show launched in early 2009. The carpeting is made from recycled PET bottles; the wood flooring is bamboo; the lights are LED or CFL whenever possible; the paints are low- or no-VOC; and the audience seats are actually reclaimed castoffs from Radio City Music Hall that have been refurbished. Even Fallon’s desk is reclaimed -- it was “salvaged” from the home of set designer Leo Yoshimori.
The tour of Studio 6B included a visit from Fallon himself. The affable comedian and friend of MNN stopped by to say hello, perform his “Eco-Jam” (see video below) and talk about some of his current green habits like using a Kindle and “recycling” by having popular-in-the-1980s musical guests like ska band the Specials appear on the show. (Chuck Leavell, MNN co-founder and keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, will be appearing on Fallon’s show in May.)
Joked Fallon, “we’ll be off the air next week, which is really green.”
For a company with a peacock as a logo, NBC Universal’s eco-initiatives are anything but peacock-y. While there’s naturally glam and glitz involved -- this is television, after all -- the company’s efforts to go green are more about pragmatism and practicality as the behind-the-scenes tour at 30 Rockefeller Plaza demonstrated. Our thoughts? To quote Kristen Wiig’s hilarious “Target Lady” character from Saturday Night Live: “Approved!”
Jack McBrayer uses a reusable water bottle and the water cooler on the set of NBC's 30 Rock.
Al Gore appearing on Saturday Night Live's 'Weekend Update'.