Rachel Dratch no longer has a role on the upcoming NBC laffer “30 Rock.” Instead, she’ll have many, many roles.
Dratch was originally tapped to play Jenna DeCarlo, an actress on “The Girlie Show” — the show-within-a-show on “30 Rock.”
But with the focus of “30 Rock” moving away from “The Girlie Show” and more toward the interaction among stars Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan, the show’s exec producers decided to scrap Dratch’s character.
Instead, Dratch will appear in several episodes in a wide variety of roles. In the “30 Rock” opener, for example, she’ll now appear as a cat wrangler (whose felines are needed for a sketch).
“Both Tina and I obviously adore Rachel, and we wanted to find a way in which we could go to her strength,” said “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels, who is also an exec producer on “30 Rock.” “The way it’s been rewritten, it’s a much funnier part.”
Michaels said some of Dratch’s characters, such as the cat wrangler, will return, while others will appear just once.
“30 Rock” stars Fey as the head writer on the fictional “Girlie Show,” while Baldwin plays a pompous network exec who starts meddling with the show — and in the pilot forces Fey’s character to hire the loose-cannon actor played by Morgan.
Dratch, who starred in the recent Adam Sandler feature “Click,” spent seven seasons on “Saturday Night Live” but won’t return this fall. Michaels said he expects to announce the new streamlined “SNL” cast before Labor Day.
“We want to get the cast closer to 10, as opposed to the 15-16 that were there the year before,” he said. “It’s going to be a smaller cast for lots of reasons — last year was a big transition year for us.”
Last month at the TV Critics Assn. press tour, Michaels cited budget pressures from NBC as one reason. He said Monday that the show had crunched a budget “close to the number they wanted.”
“I don’t think we’ve been singled out,” he said. “It’s hit throughout latenight and other shows as well. For us, we’ll come out of it in better shape.”