The Office Paley Festival
March 3, 2007 by Kath Skerry
Just got home from the Museum of Television & Radio Paley Festival featuring The Office. It was a wonderful evening filled with laughs and tears. Ok, there were no tears but I was hoping to make my review a little more quotable. There were laughs though – many of them.
Upon entering the DGA I immediately spotted my first cast members as they were giving interviews in the media line. I was standing off to the side and warmly greeted by Leslie David Baker (aw, Stanley). While in the lobby I met up with some friends whom I’ve met online and those responsible for hooking me up with a ticket. I don’t know if mentioning names is cool, but you know who you are and THANK YOU!! The MTR people were trying to escort people in, but they weren’t having much luck since the cast was just inches away and everyone wanted to watch them.
Not that I wasn’t super excited to see the cast, because I was, but I was also really excited to meet Kristin Veitch and Jennifer Godwin from E!. I’ve been a long time Watch With Kristin supporter, going back to her Wanda days. Kristin is the reason GMMR exists today – no lie. I thought that Kristin had the coolest job in the world, and I said for a long time that if I could pick any job I would want to have Kristin’s job. Knowing that wasn’t really in the stars for me, I did my own thing and started GMMR. Now, let’s not be crazy…I’m not a super cool TV reporter for E! online, but I’m living a little bit of the dream. And well, it was just really nice to meet Kristin. And get this – she knew about my site visit. How fun is that?
Once we were ushered inside the show began. The cast was briefly introduced and we all settled in to watch “Cocktails”. It was a really interesting experience to not only watch The Office on the big screen, but to watch it with 599 other people. My Office viewing experience is usually me on the couch and online chatting with my BuddyTV friends. This was a little different.
After “Cocktails” ended, we were treated to a hilarious Season 3 gag reel. I hope this was just a shorter version of what will end up on the DVDs, because it was pretty funny stuff.
Being the luckiest people in the world, the Paley audience was treated to a sneak peek at the next Office episode, which is tentatively titled “The Negotiation”. I’m not going to give a way a bunch of spoilers (but I’m sure you’ll be able to find them on other sites), but the episode had people rolling. It’s a very Darryl heavy episode and it’s good stuff. We didn’t get a “Dinkin’ Flicka”, but we did get a new Darrylism that will surely end up on a t-shirt or two. At the onset, Greg Daniels said we would get a look at the next episode, but we all thought that maybe we’d get one scene. It ended up being so much more than that. Every time the screen went black people started loudly applauding only to find out that there was more to watch. What a treat.
After the preview, the cast was introduced one by one on the stage. There were a lot of them, so it took a long time…too long. But here’s who was there: Ben Silverman (Reveille), Randall Einhorn (Director of Photography), Craig Robinson, Creed Bratton, Oscar Nunez, Phylllis Smith, Ed Helms, Brian Baumgartner, Angela Kinsey, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, Steve Carell (which was a treat because he wasn’t scheduled to be there), Melora Hardin, David Denman, Rashida Jones, Kate Flannery, BJ Novak, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, Michael Schur (writer/Cousin Mose), Jennifer Cellotta (writer) and Greg Daniels. So everyone from the cast was in attendance with the expection of JKras who is down in South Caroline filming Leatherheads with George Clooney (he’s excused I suppose.). Also in the audience were Office crew members and writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky. It was really a great showing from everyone involved with the show.
After what seemed like forever to introduce everyone, the panel began. I was pretty excited to hear that the Editor of The Hollywood Reporter would be moderating. But that excitement turned sour as early as the introductions. She was dry and not very well spoken for a woman in her position. She took more time to ask the questions than the panel did to answer them. Knowing that the audience were real Office fans, I was hoping she would be prepared with better questions. I was ready to jump up on stage and take the mic from her and ask questions that real fans wanted to hear. It was painful. You have some of the best comedic talents out there today on stage and she asked the most boring questions. The real fun and humor came from the cast answers.
A few moments stood out, but none more so than when Paul was talking about the “kiss” in “Gay Witch Hunt”. As you probably know by now, the lip lock between Michael and Oscar was improvised by Steve. Paul explained that the scene called for the Dunder Mifflin employees to feel awkward, but things went to a whole new level when Steve went in for the kiss. The cringing you saw in the episode was very real. But the kiss worked. And it worked again tonight when Steve Carell stood up and marched over to Oscar Nunez and planted one right on him. Hysterical!!!
After some questions from the boring moderator, it was open Q&A for the audience. Most had good questions – again, much better than the moderators. Once that was over, Greg Daniels surprised the audience with a little Office trivia. Hands flew up all over the room to answer questions such as “What was Andy’s ‘Call of Duty’ screenname?” (HereComesTreble)…”What was Karen’s?” (KarentheJimSlayer) and what did Dwight give Michael for his birthday and what was written on it?” (A hockey jersey that said ‘From Dwight’ on the back). A few prizes were given away to some lucky fans.
After some time, the panel ended. The crowds rushed the stage to get autographs and pictures with the actors. The cast stayed for well over a half hour and graciously signed everything that was handed to them. I hung back and watched from afar which gave me a great opportunity to chat with Greg Daniels for a bit. We talked a little bit about JAM, and whether he had to reconcile what the fans want vs what the networks want. He said that at the end of the day, he takes all of it into consideration but always tries to do what is right for the characters. We also talked a bit about the ambiguity of Jim’s feelings for Karen. I’m paraphrasing but Greg mentioned that when it comes to the relationships on the show, he writes things from his personal experience and experiences of those he knows. But at the end of the day, the actors didn’t share the experience so the way it plays out is a little different than what’s written. Whatever he’s doing…it’s working so I’m going to go with it.
A special shout out to Office Videosters Seat18B and DementedRiku – Greg Daniels has seen your work and he really likes the videos you make. I wouldn’t be shocked is maybe something you did ended up on the S3 DVDs. He made no promises, but he really liked the vids.
While talking to Greg I did get a little scoop for ya in terms of upcoming shows. Not even Greg Daniels knows when the next new episode will air. Sorry. But he did say that on March 15th they are running “Traveling Salesman” and “Oscar’s Return” as back-to-back episodes with 4 minutes of previously unseen footage and making the two episodes into one for an hour long episode. The episode we got a peek at tonight, “The Negotiation” will be supersized, and the season finale will be, as previously reported, an hour long. Oh, and during the March reruns NBC will have a mini Office marathon with some additional talking heads by Toby lamenting on the difficulties that come with being the HR rep for Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Hey, if there have to be reruns, at least they are making them interesting for us.
The crowds were dying down, and I took my chance to head towards the stage to get the one shot I didn’t get the other night…me and David Denman. Security was rushing people out and it looked like I was going to miss my chance. Lucky for me I got the attention of Kate Flannery who walked over to the other side of the stage and told David to make sure he saw me before he left. Sure enough he did. The guards were trying to escort him out but he said “one second, I have to take a picture with Kath“. YAY!! Office experience complete!!! Thanks David (and Kate).
My last Office encounter came just as I was leaving. Leslie was signing autographs and saw me there and pulled me in for a hug. He said I should definitely come back and visit the set next year. So Jennie, let’s do it!! And seconds before I left Jenna Fischer came out to sign a few more autographs. She spotted me and apologized for not having more time to spend with Jennie and I on set Tuesday. “Beesly? Are you kidding me?” [/Andy]. The fact that we got any time with Jenna was cool enough. She gave Give Me My Remote a big shout out to the crowd that was there. Too sweet.
So now I’m back in my hotel room and writing my second Office-themed novel of the day. I try to be reticent, but it’s just not me. Paley Fest ’07 was a success. Thanks to everyone that took the time to come up to me and introduce yourself. Thanks for your support of GMMR. And thanks again to “D” who hooked me up with my ticket.
Prison Break is next week. And now that I’ve met Kristin Veitch, I’m using her for all it’s worth to get a pic with me and Wentworth Miller
Filed under Angela Kinsey, BJ Novak, Brian Baumgartner, David Denman, Dwight Schrute, Jenna Fischer, Jim Halpert, Kate Flannery, Michael Scott, Pam Beesly, Rainn Wilson, Steve Carell, The Office, The Office Recaps