Got ‘Threat Level: Midnight’ questions for B.J. Novak?

I’m thrilled that veteran Office writer/producer B.J. Novak has agreed to answer fan questions about this week’s episode of The Office, Threat Level: Midnight!

If you have a question for B.J. about TLM, please post it in a comment below.

This post will close at 11pm Pacific Time tomorrow night, so get your questions in stat!

73 comments

  1. Did you guys consider putting the Dwigt line or “I foget it brutha” into the script? Those were some of the best parts of the season 2 episode?

  2. Did the actors look back at footage at all to get back into that time period of their characters? I.e. Jim and Pam and their tension

  3. No question from me … Just congrats on what I think is the most hilarious episode ever. Tears in my eyes from watching Toby’s head blow up!!!!!

  4. What was the vibe like on set, did it feel like a reunion? Did the extra crazy scenarios cause the actors to break more often than usual?

  5. Great episode and movie season 7 has been the best season yet. Will the full threat level midnight movie be made available online?

  6. Do you have any favorite scenes that didn’t make the final cut that you’d like to tell us about?

    Also, what year was the Dave Barry Page-A-Day from? 2011’s version is sitting in my kitchen and is pretty freaking amazing.

  7. Just curious what John Krasinski had to say about having to wear the gimp suit in the speed skating scene … And I agree …. Best season ever!

  8. How did Michael convince Angela to not only be in the movie, but dance, as well? Also, was the little boy in the bar a character we’ve met before, like Jan and Karen, or just someone Michael hired to be in the movie? Great job with this fantastic episode!

  9. I think dusting off the old plot was executed really well, but did you have any doubts when it came to writing this episode? Anything you weren’t sure about? I feel like it could have easily gone bad really fast but it was great and kind of a wink at the fans who have been with the show for a while, was that your intention?

    (and tanster, if you can, please ask if he’s got any other projects this year. BJ/Ryan is my favorite part of The Office and I’m really curious!)

  10. Have you always wanted to do more with Threat Level Midnight since the story first appeared in season 2? Or was this just a spontaneous episode idea to pay tribute to Steve before he leaves the show?

  11. Was it challenging writing an episode that’s such a different format after seven years of writing more or less the same style?

  12. Could you please explain what specific special effects were used for the “shooting Toby’s head” shot?

    Also, I was wondering if Karen being dressed casually had any implied meaning. Is she still working for Dunder Mifflin, or was her branch closed as some point after the Sabre merger? I couldn’t see clearly in that brief scene, but was she still wearing her wedding ring and was she carrying a toy, presumably her child’s?

    Thank you very much in advance for answering my questions.

  13. Great Episode! Can’t wait to see his full length movie! The Michael Scarn Dance was amazing! How did you come up with that idea and who choreographed it?

  14. What made you decide to go in a slightly different direction from the script that’s read in The Client? Still, the whole episode felt a big inside joke, one that all long time fans would feel thrilled to be in on. I know i did.

  15. Did you plan out any specific reasoning for people like Angela, Oscar and Karen agreeing to act in Michael’s movie?

    I also particularly liked the line “don’t listen to your critics, listen to your fans,” who wrote that one?

  16. How much time did it take to prep this episode and shoot it? It seems there was so much with so many cameos and such. Also, was there anything you wanted to include, but couldn’t because of time or budget?

  17. The characters in the movie looked exactly like they did back in seasons 1-3, were there any kind of computer effects involved?

  18. If you were a movie critic, how would you rate “Threat Level Midnight”? ;)

    Congrats to all of you! This was awesome!

  19. There were so many tiny but very significant choices you got to make in this episode. Like, how would Michael view a typical bartender? (Ed Helms was hilarious!) It was fun to get into Michael’s weird psyche, and the movie was so much like his character, shifting from one exciting thing to another without a lot of cohesiveness or follow-through. It must have been such a blast to write this. It was wonderful.

    What cheesy movies did you (well, Michael) use for inspiration in the masterpiece, Threat Level Midnight?

  20. Hi BJ, great job on TLM! It was so so awesome. I’m interested about the scene where Michael, Oscar and Jim were skating. Did John Krasinski, Steve Carell and Oscar Nunez really film that scene on location? Steve and Oscar were convincing, but it seemed as though John had a stunt double to play his role in that scene. Maybe he just looked really funny with his golden face and his hair kept tightly under the skating suit! HAH!

  21. I have to know: Is Cherokee Jack a Mystery Science Theater Red Zone Cuba reference? If so, genius! If not, inadvertent genius!

  22. How did Michael go about getting Tony Gardner to play the pianist in the movie when he quit on his first day? And where was David Wallace?
    Thanks!

  23. Also, were there any other characters that you wanted to bring back but were unable to do it because of the actor’s schedules?
    Thanks B.J.!

  24. I absolutely loved the song at the end! Who worked on the song? And was it inspired by Will Smith’s tie in songs for Men in Black and Wild Wild West?

    Loved the episode!!

  25. Were there any problems logistically getting all these cameos to come in for one episode? Especially since Rashida and David have their own shows to tend to.

    It does seem out of place that some characters would agree to take part in the film but at this point, any longtime fan as myself doesn’t care. Love references to old episodes and old characters.

  26. Are there any extra deleted scenes that explain why Angela and Stanley were taking part in the movie (when normally it would kind of seem out of character for both of them)?

  27. Who would win in a real life speedskating race, Oscar or John? And how sick are Steve’s ice skating skills?

  28. Great Job – been looking forward to this for weeks and you all did an awesome job! Loved how many of the characters in TLM were true to Michael’s view of them, especially Dwight and Toby. Was a bit surprised that Michael would cast Jim as the bad guy, seeing how much he admired him. How did you decide who got to play which part?

  29. Hi B.J, awesome episode!

    Was the scene with John and Steve shooting at each other on ice difficult to shoot with getting their positions correct and everything? Also did John take any lessons, or has he skated before?

  30. As a long time fan I loved Threat Level Midnight. In the spirit of bringing up old story lines is there any possiblility of a Dundies episode in the future?

  31. Since this was a throwback episode, was there any special preparation you did in order to write it?

  32. Was there a lot of breaking during the filming of all these scenes? Like when Michael chokes Oscar? I had read that Roy and David Wallace were coming back, but I never got to see them in the episode? Were they like super-cameos?

  33. When Michael reminisces about his wife right before Goldenface shoots him, there were clips of him with Catherine Zeta Scarn’s body on a hockey puck. The second clip with the animal crackers reminded me of the scene in Armageddon. Were the other clips a reference to other movies? If so, which ones?

  34. Was that really Tony Gardner on Jasmine’s piano? Why would he be in Michael’s movie if he worked at Scranton for under a day and got fired/quit?

  35. Great Episode! I loved the song at the end “Threat Level what? Midnight” Was that Ed Helms signing it?

  36. Why didn’t Kelly have a bigger role in the movie? I hardly remember seeing her, and she’s been so great this season.

  37. Who did that song that went “Running on Ice” when Michael was sweeping the rink with the broom and later the hockey stick?

  38. Great episode, BJ! It was so fun to revisit an old story and see old cast members.

    Curious as to how you managed the episode-to-movie ratio. I liked having both because it was great to see everyone’s reaction to watching themselves but was there ever a point where you just wanted to air the entire movie and not include any actual episode stuff?

    Also, Brian and Rainn tweeted about the viewing party for the cast so I was wondering how many people got up and did “The Michael Scarn”?

  39. Hey, B.J.! Great episode! Very terrific and glad to see everyone involved!

    While watching, I noticed during Pam and Jim’s talking head, there was a clip of Ryan, Pam, Jim, Michael, Dwight and a few others in the conference room as they appeared in Season 2. Did you guys shoot that back in 2005, or did you guys shoot that this year? And why was Jim so involved with the movie? He’d seem like the kind of person who would stay away from Michael’s antics, especially a gun fight while ice skating.

  40. It was nice to see an episode where Ryan had more than a couple of lines. Where have he and Kelly disappeared to lately? The webisodes are fun, but their presence is sorely missed on the show.

  41. How long has the idea for this episode been brewing? Did you guys do “The Client” with the intention of some day doing a Threat Level Midnight episode?

  42. Was there a lot of rewrites to the initial script, or did it pretty much go as you planned? Were there some parts that you really had to fight for to keep in? I remember in some of your commentary’s for the episodes you wrote you had to do a lot of convincing to keep a scene in the final cut.
    Also are you going to be at UCB anytime soon?! I swear I miss you all the time by ONE ticket.

  43. the Catherine Zeta Jones bit was one of my favorite parts, you also wrote the episode where they debated on whether Hilary Swank is hot or not. So my question is, have either of the actresses ever reached out to the show or commented on being featured in episodes?

  44. First of all, this is definitely in my top three episodes of all time… I still can’t let it pass up The (classic) Injury, but it’s certainly up there. Touche!

    As far as questions go: Did you guys have any specific inspiration/guidelines for how the cinematography looked in Threat Level Midnight? I loved that it looked quite a bit different, and the lighting was perfect! Was there a different camera for TLM, or were most of the adjustments just made with coloring in post?

    Thanks for answering our questions and for creating this episode!

  45. In the conference room, when Pam scolds Jim for laughing, his laughter looks completely genuine (red face and all). I’m really curious if you guys did anything specific to get that laughter out of John. :)

  46. Hey BJ! You’re definitely one of the best writers on “The Office” and Threat Level Midnight did not disappoint! I have two questions: 1) Does writing Michael Scott’s movie make you want to write your own movie sometime soon? I know many people who would like to see Wikipedia Brown in theaters.

    And 2) There seemed to be a lot of Billy Joel music in the movie (i.e. “Running on Ice” during the hockey training session and “Pressure” during the gunfight speed-skating scene). Were these in the original script? Is there a particular reason you chose these songs?

  47. Hey BJ, how did you go about mapping out the scenes in the movie to make sure they fit chronologically within the timeframe of the show’s events?

    (i.e. hostage scene filmed sometime in season 1-2 when Jim liked Pam, bar scene during season 3 when Andy and Karen came along, funky cat during season 4 when Jan was with Michael)

  48. 1. I appreciate the continuity nod to the friendship Ryan had with Jim and Pam back in season 2.

    2. Was the cast sitting in the conference room watching nothing or was there some rough cut of the “movie” being played?

  49. How did Toby get involved with the movie? I find it difficult to believe Michael asking him to be in it. Toby’s look when he was about to be shot was priceless though!
    What made you decide to pick the NHL all star game? Is it because Steve played hockey? I’m glad you chose hockey when you could have done any other sport!
    Whose idea was it to do the Armageddon scene? I absolutely loved that!
    How did the idea for doing an episode on Michael’s movie come about?
    Why wasn’t Erin in the movie?
    Who came up with the Scarn dance moves?
    Why was Jim chosen to be the villian of the movie?
    Were there any other past characters you wanted to see in this episode? Was it difficult trying to get past characters to come back and make appearances for this episode?
    How did Michael get Tony Gardner in his film? I thought he didn’t like him.
    Why didn’t David Wallace make an appearance?

    This is definitely one of my new favorite episodes. I loved everything about it and it was extremely funny! I am excited to see the whole film. Thanks B.J. and Tanster!

  50. Awesome episode BJ! Long time fans always love callbacks to past episodes. So other than Michael’s movie, if you could chose any past situation to recreate or reinterpret, what would it be?

    And did everyone do their own stunts? Such as John ice skating?

  51. What was the reasoning behind changing the Samuel L. Chung character from Michael Scarns’s bumbling idiot former partner in season 2 “the client” to a “robotic” butler?
    AND
    During the episode Michael repeatedly said it took him 11 years to make TLM but adding up the 3 years writing, 1 year of shooting, 4 years re-shooting, and 2 years editing, that is 10 years. Is this a joke at Michael’s math skills.

  52. I heard the whole cast got together for a viewing party of TLM at Steve’s house. Which scene got the biggest laughs from everybody? Did everyone have their own favorite moment or line?

  53. Did you plan on including any other previous guest stars that couldn’t make it?

    Why did you choose to recast Jim as Goldenface instead of Oscar?

    Was the kid in Andy’s bar supposed to be someone specific in the Office-universe, like for instance one of Carol’s kids?

  54. Loved this episode SO much, BJ! Would you say this film was as difficult to film as a real short film would be (In terms of sets, costumes, blocking, etc.)? I really appreciated the fact that it was believable! (i.e most of the set was obvious parts of the warehouse and office which made the film a believable ‘home video’)

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