How did they record the delivery scene? Who played baby Cecelia? What was Pam’s birth song?
These questions and many more about The Office baby episode The Delivery are answered here by the writing tag team of Danny Chun and Charlie Grandy!
Thank you, Danny and Charlie! (And thanks also to Jenna Fischer for popping in to answer a few questions!)
Q. Michael | Why was Dwight visibly upset or shaken at the end of the episode?
Charlie: In spite of having just signed a contract to have a baby with Angela, he knew he had feelings for Isabel.
Q. Ross | Was the baby-switching idea from an Office writer’s personal experience? Or was it just a random idea?
Charlie: Gene originally pitched that Michael causes Pam to breastfeed the wrong baby. But we couldn’t figure out how to realistically make that work and set it aside. Then as Jim and Pam’s story of shaken confidence became clear, we altered it to be their low point.
Q. im | How did anyone keep a straight face in the scene when Michael is down on the floor behind Jim trying to comfort Pam? Did that scene need a lot of takes?
Danny: It didn’t really need more takes than a normal scene. By now, all the actors are used to Steve doing hilarious things. They still broke a couple times, but not more than usual.
Q. Tiffany | It was so funny to see Lee Kirk (Jenna’s real-life fiance) as the breastfeeding coach. How did that casting process go, and was it tough for the actors to keep it together during that scene?
Charlie: We knew the scene would only work if it looked like the doctor was really examining Pam. We also knew it would only work if Jenna was comfortable with the actor.
Jenna suggested Lee and he was AWESOME. I cannot imagine that scene working with anyone else.
Jenna: I will only allow one actor to manhandle my breasts and that’s Will Ferrell. He wasn’t available.
And, it was actually Paul who suggested Lee. I had reservations about a guest actor being so “hands on” in a scene. He was sensitive to my feelings and said, “What if Lee is the lactation specialist.” I thought it was a fun idea.
Lee went in to read and got the part. It was really cool to have him on set. And especailly for such a milestone episode.
Q. AB | How and where did you seek the inspiration to create the vision for such a significant episode, and how (and to what extent) did you collaborate with the other writers and actors to portray this?
Charlie: This was very much a group effort. Baby stories have been done to death on sitcoms. It took months to get the stories right and we took any idea we could get our hands on.
Q. Tiffany | What was the biggest challenge about writing this episode? Any surprising obstacles?
Charlie: Keeping it funny. Birth is very intimate and personal and we didn’t want to rob Jim and Pam of that time.
We spent a good month working on stories where everyone was at the hospital because that seemed like such a natural comedy engine. But at the end of the day, you just hated everyone for stealing the moment from Jim and Pam.
Danny: The two biggest challenges were: 1. Making a baby episode that isn’t a retread of all the other sitcoms’ baby episodes, and 2. Making a baby episode for a workplace documentary.
Ultimately, 2 helped us deal with 1 — the limitations we had because of our show’s premise and format enabled us to think of the episode differently from how Friends or Murphy Brown might’ve done it.
Another challenge for me, but not Charlie, was that I have never had a baby, so I had to do some very basic research. But I’d been meaning to learn what sex is, so it was a two birds one stone situation.
Q. Mel | I read an interview that said that at one point the baby was actually the opposite sex and then it changed. Was there a reason for this and is there a reason that we wound up with adorable Cecelia instead of James Jr?
Charlie: I think boy was our first thought, but over time girl just felt right. I couldn’t tell you why.
Danny: We went back and forth on the boy-girl question. In most iterations of the story, the gender of the kid was kind of irrelevant, so we didn’t really debate it much.
But then towards the end, we came up with the idea of Pam spilling the beans on the gender, and for some reason we felt like that scene would work better if it was a baby girl. I remember Brent Forrester in particular really pushing for that. He has a daughter.
For what it’s worth, I was campaigning hard for a hermaphrodite.