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The 30 Rock Episode You Forgot Starred Robert De Niro

Acclaimed actor Robert de Niro has dipped his toes into every genre during his illustrious acting career covering more than half a century. Although he's branched out and appeared in funny films like "Dirty Grandpa," "Midnight Run," "Grudge Match," and the "Meet the Fockers" franchise, de Niro's mainly known for deep, dark, serious dramas, like the "Godfather" series, "Taxi Driver," and "The Deer Hunter" (via IMDb). 

So when one thinks of de Niro, one does not automatically think of humor, even critically acclaimed humor. Because of this, fans of both the actor and the successful NBC sitcom "30 Rock" would have a difficult time imagining that de Niro appeared on the program, but he definitely did. 

"30 Rock" is a meta comedy starring Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, the head writer of the sketch comedy series "TGS with Tracy Jordan." For seven seasons, Liz finds herself working and clashing with Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and NBC head Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) as they try to keep "TGS" on the air. So what's de Niro's brief role on the show?

De Niro appears in Season 5 as himself

During the Season 5 episode "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning," de Niro has a cameo appearance as himself (via IMDb). The episode's main plotline features Jack believing that he must take advantage of the most successful reality shows ever broadcast — celebrity-led benefit specials. When Liz tells Jack that it doesn't matter since every single network is forced to air these events simultaneously, Jack declares that NBC could get ahead of the game by broadcasting a benefit on the same day a disaster occurs. 

Jack then lets Liz in on his scheme — he wants to pre-tape charity telethons which will benefit victims of disasters which have not yet happened. While such charitable actions will naturally fatten the pockets of victims of "every possible disaster" thanks to clever editing, they will also eventually provide NBC with high ratings that will reflect favorably upon Jack's stewardship as head of the network. One major feature of the disaster relief telethon on "30 Rock" happens to be a pre-taped statement from none other than de Niro himself. 

De Niro nails a British accent in the name of charity

While de Niro plays himself, the show adds a twist to his real story, pretending that he is secretly British. Though this fictionalized version of the actor is initially reluctant to go along with Jack's plot, the NBC head threatens to "have MSNBC tell the world" that de Niro is British if he doesn't. "But I'm so identified with New York, you bloody tosser!", de Niro says in a cockney accent.

Thus cowed into doing the inserts, de Niro sympathetically describes a series of outlandish and nonexistent natural disasters scribbled out on cue cards by Jack's crew. For example, one line says, "Two days ago when people thought of a mudslide they just thought of getting drunk at an Applebee's, but now we know it as the thing that destroyed Denver." It's the kind of goofy verbal humor that made "30 Rock" so popular, and de Niro delivers it with aplomb.

Everything blows up in Jack's face by the end of the episode when the next natural disaster to strike the globe is a typhoon that hits the small private island of Mago, the fictional home of actor Mel Gibson. As a result, Jack's pre-taped telethon ends up benefitting both the controversial actor and reality show star Jon Gosselin, who happens to have been staying at Gibson's home at the time. In spite of Jack's best efforts, the show goes on.