Jenna Fischer MySpace blog: “The Client” – Behind the Scenes

From Jenna Fischer’s MySpace blog, dated October 31, 2005:

In this episode, Michael leaves the office with Jan to try and close a big sale. While he’s gone, I find a screenplay that Michael wrote – starring himself. Jim and I organize a reading of it with the rest of the office staff.

There is some pretty romantic stuff this week. Jim and Pam end up on the roof of the building. That was an AMAZING night of shooting. John and I had to wear a harness and ride up to the roof in a lift. It was a little freaky. (The other people got to use this old fire escape ladder but in order to protect the “stars” of the show; we had to ride up in this incredibly complicated machine.) There were just a few of us up there. The camera guys, our executive producer, the writer of the episode, the A.D. and me and John. The weather was perfect and there was a little breeze and we just sat up there, this small group of us, looking at the city. It was really awesome. It is definitely one of my favorite off camera moments so far this season.

Tim Meadows guest stars as the client Michael and Jan are trying to impress. I didn’t have to work the day they shot Tim’s scenes but I went up to the set just to meet him and have lunch. He is VERY cool. And, hilarious. I don’t want to ruin anything but if you’ve seen the promos for this episode you know that something shocking happens at the meeting.

I posted a few new photos from my vacation week. Mindy hosted a Diwali party. That was pretty awesome. I ran into my old friend Jason Segel. He’s currently starring in How I Met Your Mother and he’s really adorable and funny on the show. It’s great. Check it out.

You can also see a photo from our “Ladies Lunch” at The Ivy on Robertson. That’s Kim our hairdresser and Lisa our makeup artist! The paparazzi swarmed the streets around the restaurant to not take our picture. (Tara Reid was shopping nearby.) After lunch we bought the recent issue of Stuff Magazine and ran into Melora Hardin (who plays Jan on the show.) Small world. The girls from The Office and Tara Reid.

We are currently hard at work shooting our Christmas episode and it’s past my bedtime so I should wrap up. Thanks again for watching!

B.J. Novak TV Guide blog: The Client

From B.J. Novak’s TV Guide blog, dated November 8, 2005:

The Office Presents: The Client
by B.J. Novak, aka “Ryan”

This week’s episode of The Office is called “The Client.” It starts when Michael (Steve Carell) heads off to the local Chili’s to try to close a very big deal with a major client (played superbly by Tim Meadows).

Once Michael takes off, so does the episode, in a number of directions, leading to a bunch of moments that involve both literal and metaphorical fireworks. I don’t want to spoil the suspense (although I guess “suspense” is overselling it, since we’re a comedy…. maybe “surprise” is the better word), but here are some of the funnier moments, and the stories behind them.

While Michael Scott is gone, the staff discovers a screenplay he’s been writing, “Threat Level Midnight. It’s an action thriller about an FBI agent named Michael Scarn. (His love interest is creatively named Catherine Zeta-Jones.) The staff divides up the roles and performs the script out loud. Oscar plays the role of Goldenface. I play the role of Michael’s African-Asian-American sidekick, Samuel L. Chang.

Even though it lasts just a couple of minutes, the writers and actors generated a screenplay long enough to film. I hope the rest of it is published with the DVD or something.

Tim Meadows and Steve Carell share an Awesome Blossom.
Tim Meadows and Steve Carell have similar backgrounds in improv comedy, and they improvised an enormous amount together while the cameras were on. Even the way they ate their food was creative and funny. The week we were filming this, Steve was about to fly off to New York to host Saturday Night Live, and Tim Meadows, who spent years as a performer on that show, shared his knowledge with Steve during lunch breaks.

There is a very surprising, very intense kiss in this episode.
Backstory: The kiss was rehearsed and filmed many, many, many times. Greg Daniels may have spent more time editing this kiss than any other moment in the show so far, bringing everyone he could into the editing room to weigh in on what was too short, too long, too much, not enough, etc.

Dwight (Rainn Wilson) wakes up in his underwear in this episode.
As we were about to shoot this scene, the wardrobe department showed Rainn what he was to wear. Rainn, the actor, describes the underwear as “sexy” grey boxer-briefs “that are similar to something I would actually wear.” Rainn insisted that Dwight would not wear this underwear. Perhaps he knows the character very well, right down to his underwear; or perhaps Rainn was simply humiliated to learn that his choice of underwear is exactly the same type that a militaristic toady/part-time beet farmer would wear, and this was a denial mechanism. In any case, this actor tantrum set off a frantic rush to to find a replacement pair. I won’t spoil the suspense (sorry, “surprise”) to tell you what pair was chosen.

There are fireworks.
Even to stage the most pathetically puny fireworks, it turns out that you need all kinds of licenses and permits and insurance. I can’t imagine more effort has ever gone into a less ambitious pyrotechnics display.


This has been a happy week on the set of The Office. We just found out this week that we are picked up for the whole season of 22 episodes. There’s a very festive feeling around the set (though we’re also filming the Christmas episode right now which may have something to do with it.) Anyway, if you’ve been watching it, thanks. It’s exciting to know that this show, which feels like a tiny home-video project when we make it, is actually seen by so many people — more and more each week.

I want to write something funny or interesting at the end of this, but I’m out of time and this is way past due and I have to be back on the set. They are literally surrounding my laptop with fake bowls of eggnog right now. I’d end with a line from tonight’s episode of The Office, but I don’t want to ruin the suspense. I mean surprise. Okay, instead I’ll ruin the end of House: The doctor guy is going to figure out how to save the patient at the last possible second in spite of getting no help from hospital management while getting very warm looks from the doctor who has a crush on him but it won’t quite break through the tough walls surrounding his heart. I haven’t seen it or anything, just a hunch…

B.J. Novak TV Guide blog: The Fight

From B.J. Novak’s TV Guide blog, dated November 1, 2005:

The Office Presents: Karate Kidding
by B.J. Novak, aka “Ryan”

Tonight’s all-new episode of The Office [9:30 pm/ET on NBC] is called “The Fight.” Around here, we know it as “Karate,” or “The Dojo,” since the most memorable scenes involve a karate fight. (I won’t dignify it enough to call it a karate “match.”)

The show takes place on a day when the boss, Michael Scott (Steve Carell), has one relatively simple task — initialing a large pile of forms — but instead embarks on a mind-boggling journey of procrastination. This — ultimately, amazingly — leads everyone to a karate dojo during the office lunch break, where Michael battles his underling Dwight (Rainn Wilson) before an audience of stunned coworkers.

In one sense, it’s an episode about procrastination carried to the nth degree. In the sense of what’s memorable… it’s the episode in which Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson jump-kick each other in public to try to prove a point.

Some background on the karate fighters you will see in this episode:

Steve Carell: Steve Carell has no background in karate, and, fortunately, it shows. (Steve does have an impressive background in ice hockey, which we have not yet figured out how to factor into an episode about office life. But who knows what the future holds?)

Rainn Wilson: Rainn actually used to study karate. Rainn is a certified yellow belt; his character Dwight is a purple belt. Fun fact: During the fight, Rainn wears a huge protective piece of wraparound headgear while fighting, and in the course of filming, the friction of this headgear cut Rainn slightly in the face. Actually, that fact is not so fun. It’s more like a sad fact.

The frustrated 11-year-old girl: One of the kids playing Dwight’s classmates is an 11-year-old girl who, in real life, is a black belt — but she had to wear a white belt in the scene. She was pissed. If you see a girl in the background giving a very overqualified kick, that’s her. Her attitude was, “OK, I’ll wear your white belt, but don’t think I’m going to hide my skills.” She practically knocked Rainn over when she kicked the pad he was holding. (In retrospect, she may have been fighting above her black-belt abilities, when you factor in the frustration element about appearing on television as a white belt when you know you’re a black belt.)

Lance Krall: Talented character actor Lance Krall plays Dwight’s sensei, Sensei Ira. In real life, Lance — who also has his own show on Spike and turned in a memorably deadpan performance on The Joe Schmo Show — is a black belt in tae kwon do and was at one point nationally ranked.

When we got to the editing room, we found, as always, that we had to make some cuts. In this case, we realized that to keep the entire jaw-dropping karate match, we had to cut a few extra moments that explained the background. Here are my two favorite moments that got cut:

One is the exquisite line spoken by Dwight, explaining why he doesn’t mind attending a karate class in which his peers are almost entirely 11-year-old girls: “I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to attack people.”

My other favorite extra moment is a prop. It’s the poster at Dwight’s dojo, explaining the “10 Rules of Karate”:

1. Obey Your Parents
2. No Junk Food
3. Do Your Homework
4. Keep Your Room Clean
5. Maintain an Indomitable Spirit
6. Don’t Fight with Your Siblings
7. Practice, Practice, Practice
8. Treat Others the Way That You Would Like to Be Treated
9. Be Loyal to Your Country
10. HAVE FUN!!!
The fact that Dwight is paying to attend a karate school whose agenda is, at least in part, to teach its students to “Do Your Homework” and “Keep Your Room Clean” says so many wonderful things about him as a character.

Enjoy the episode, keep an eye out for the girl with the crazy-strong kick, remember that Rainn is fighting injured, and maintain an indomitable spirit!