The Impact of Actor Blogs - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

The Impact of Actor Blogs

February 9, 2006 by  

The following was lifted from a great article called “We’re In This Together” from Stylus Magazine. I thought you all would enjoy it.

Today, NBC’s The Office looks like the luckiest show on television: it grew from an underdog, underwatched late-season replacement last spring into a mainstay of NBC’s slowly recovering “Must See” Thursday nights, all in less than a year. But think back to the start of the fall, when the show started its second season and struggled in the ratings. As part of the show’s promotional efforts, writer B. J. Novak—who also plays Ryan the Temp—started a blog, which ran for a few weeks on TV Guide’s website before he handed it off to Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam the Receptionist. You might think this was a publicity stunt set up by their marketing department, like dozens of other show blogs (see: the “nurses’ blog” for Grey’s Anatomy) but I can say with 99.9% confidence that both Novak and Fischer are the real authors. Why? Because the blog is really dull.

Now, Novak had a few good lines, and the behind-the-scenes trivia has been fun. But by and large, it’s mundane stuff. Fischer likes to talk about the PlayStation football tournaments that take place off-set, and about how the cast likes to get together at someone’s house every Thursday to watch the show air. Novak gave more dish: in his first blog post he mentioned that the men behind the original, canonized British Office, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, had stopped by to meet the cast and give some feedback. He never followed up to tell us if they liked it, but don’t worry: if you listen to Gervais’ and Merchant’s own podcast, they give the show high marks.

Here’s the thing: dull as this stuff is, it’s also compelling—not just as a fanboy exercise, but because the stars start to become real people. Novak, Fischer, and now, all of the other staff writers and cast members who write blogs and MySpace pages, seem as honest as anybody can be online: they hide some insecurities while others slip out by accident, they laugh at stuff that makes no sense, they tell us what they think. And along the way, you understand how much the cast and crew are pushing for this show to succeed. They know their show is an underdog, and that quirky single-camera mockumentary shows that make the audience pay attention start off way behind the eightball. You can’t help but root for them: week after week, you feel like you’re getting to know and like them, and you pray for them to succeed.

When Moore, Novak, and the rest of these people ramble through their blogs and podcasts, they’re following the season with you: they’re engaging you in the “metastory,” where you not only care if Pam and Jim will get together, but you wonder if they’ll get a third season renewal. And listening to an executive producer admit that he blew it is like getting a seat at the ship captain’s table. He’s still in charge, but you both have a destination, you’re getting closer and closer, and sink or sail, you’re in this together. How could you possibly tune out now?

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