“Office” fans: Bow down to your queen

This article originally appeared at http://getfreshcut.com/2008/04/10/office-fans-bow-down-to-your-queen/ on April 10, 2008.

“Office” fans: Bow down to your queen

by Hassan

Forget “Lost.” Tonight, it’s all about “The Office.”

Yes, most of you probably know that the NBC comedy is back from the Writers Strike doldrums, returning tonight (8pm Central) with new episodes, and more importantly, new questions about the Dunder-Mifflin romances, break-ups, and shake-ups in store for fans.

Indeed, the devoted fan base has kept “The Office” all-too relevant despite being off the air for five months. Other strike-grounded shows, now struggling to regain their footing, would kill for that kind of loyalty.

At the center of the “Office” faniverse sits Jennie Tan, a Silicon Valley technical writer who single-handedly runs OfficeTally, arguably one of the best fansites on the web.

And with a new episode on tap, along with recent (but touchy) news of a spinoff in the works, we couldn’t help but drop her a line. Caution: “The Office” may lead to decreased productivity.

Fresh Cut: How and when was “Office Tally” born?

Jennie Tan: OfficeTally went live in February 2006, about halfway through “The Office” Season 2. It was originally created as a place for people to rate the episodes (hence the “tally” in “officetally”), and nothing more. Of course, since then, OfficeTally has become more of a news site, but the name stuck!

FC: How did OfficeTally manage to set itself apart from so many other fan sites?

JT: I think part of it is luck — luck in that the site started pretty early in the show’s run. And having so much support from the show’s producers, writers, cast, and crew has been fantastic, too. Last but not least, the OfficeTally readers, or Tallyheads as they are called, do a fantastic job of providing news tips for the site. OfficeTally would not be as content-rich without the Tallyheads!

FC: How did OfficeTally weather the WGA Strike?

JT: It was a really sad time, but OfficeTally continued on without a change in process — sifting through news feeds and reader tips for items that would be of interest to Office fans. It was also great to be able to visit with the writers in L.A. and to picket with them. The writers penned a few notes to the fans; it was really important to them to stay in contact with the fans during this time. I tried to keep people updated on strike news as best as I could, plus I ran a few contests so that people would have something to keep them distracted. Hope it worked!

FC: What are some predictions you’ve heard about the show’s future plot?

JT: Well, Jenna Fischer visited the OfficeTally Chat Room on Sunday night, and she revealed some intriguing spoilerish tidbits: 1) something big happens for Jim and Pam in the second episode coming (’The Chair Model’), 2) we’ll learn something about Pam we’ve never known before, and 3) someone leaves Dunder Mifflin at the end of the season. The mind races …

FC: The Spinoff — Your Thoughts?

JT: The current show has such a dream ensemble cast, and I mean, a once-in-a-lifetime type of cast, that I can’t imagine any of them leaving for a spin-off. But I’ve been reading comments from the Tallyheads on this subject, and I’m agreeing with one sentiment: Don’t take away current Office cast, but bring well-loved actors from past hit shows! (Arrested Development, anyone?)

FC: Speaking of past hits shows… If the U.S. “Office” got in a fistfight with the British “Office,” who would win?

JT: The U.S. “Office,” of course! All it would take is one of Angela Martin’s death stares, or a few quick karate moves from Dwight, and it would be all over. Backup plan: Michael can just lock them all in a conference room until they concede.

FC: How much contact do you have with the staff and showrunners? How do you keep yourself from relentlessly name-dropping the cast around your friends?

JT: I keep in regular contact with the producers, writers, cast, and crew of the show. I’m always floored by their interest in the website. In some ways, I feel like I work with them, like I’m in the cheerleading division of Dunder Mifflin. :) I really don’t talk too much about “The Office” outside of OfficeTally. People would think I’m insane. ;)

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