My summer vacation is almost over. The writers have chosen their stories and are off writing the first 7 scripts for Season 3 of The Office. We start shooting in 4 short weeks.
In case you were wondering how writers on a TV show work, I’ll try to break it down for you. (I really have no idea, but this is what Ive observed.) The group of writers, we have about 10, sit around a table and pitch story ideas. An assistant takes notes. They spend days just yelling out ideas like “Michael has to pick a new health care plan”, “Pam gets drunk”, “Jim cant talk for the day”.
Next, they go through the notes and write their favorite ideas on index cards. They tack these onto the walls. So, the walls are literally covered with index cards.
Then, they try to break a story. They pick a card and talk all about how it could be an episode. They try to give it a beginning, middle and an end. If they can’t break it, they put it back for later. If they do break it, they move it to a new place on the wall for Episodes.
Once they have enough Episodes, they break down each story even more and make a beat-by-beat outline. Finally, each writer gets an episode assignment. The writers go off on their own for 1-2 weeks and, using the outline, write their episode. That’s where they are now. Writing episodes! There are 10 people who know exactly what happens at the beginning of Season 3. Sadly, I’m not one of them.
Here are the answers to some questions you actually asked:
Martin Freeman (who played “Tim” in the BBC version of the office) once said that he found it hard to stop looking at the camera when working on other projects. Do you ever have this problem? – Didi in Philadelphia, PENNSYLVANIA
It’s funny you should ask. Over the summer I worked on the comedy “Blades of Glory” with Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett and Romany Malco. On my first day of shooting I had to do a scene with Will Arnett and Amy Poehler (they are awesome). I don’t want to give away any jokes but basically I play their little sister and they are really mean to me throughout the movie. At the end of our first scene together the camera holds on my reaction and for the first 2 takes I looked into the camera.
What actor or actress have you always wanted to work with? William from Eau Claire, WI
Actresses: Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. Actors: Jason Bateman and Mike White.
I would like to know what it was like doing That 70’s Show. What was it like working with them? And any other details you could give about the experience would be awesome. – Scott F. from Upland, PA
The cast of That 70s Show was great. After each show the entire cast goes out to the audience and signs autographs. I’d never seen that before and I thought it was very cool. I’d also never been around so many celebrities in such an intimate way…you know, just hanging out on a set all day. I wasn’t quite sure how to act. I worked the week that Wilmer Valderrama and Lindsay Lohan broke up. But, it wasn’t out in the open yet. I had all my scenes with Wilmer so we were around each other a lot. While we were waiting to rehearse, I heard him tell one of the other actors that he and his girlfriend broke up and of course I knew who he meant. I tried to give him space. If he started to talk about it, I would walk away. I figured it wasn’t any of my business and he deserved privacy. It was hard though. I was curious. I could’ve had the inside scoop!
In the makeup room, Ashton Kutcher told a funny story about he and Demi Moore. It was charming and made them sound like any other couple. I was impressed with how open and candid he was. At the time I remember thinking, “Man, it must be hard to be these guys”. Ashton shares a story about his fun weekend with his girlfriend or Wilmer wants to share about his breakup, just like any normal person might tell a story at work, except in their case someone in the room could turn around and sell the story to a tabloid. Crazy! So, out of respect, I never repeated the Ashton story and I didn’t tell anyone that Wilmer and Lindsay broke up. (Well, I told my husband but that’s all.)
I have seen two different places of birth in your bios, St. Louis, MO and Ft. Wayne, IN. Which one is correct? – Eddie from Galveston, IN
I was born in Fort Wayne but only lived there until I was about 2 years old. I grew up in St. Louis.
How often do you get back to St. Louis? Where are your favorite places to go when you’re back in town? – Patrick B. from Ballwin, MO
I go back to St. Louis about 3 times a year – once for Christmas, once in the summer for a trip to Lake of the Ozarks and usually one other time. I mostly just stay at my parents house or my in-laws house. I have so much family to see that we dont really go out on the town. Most of my destinations revolve around food. I’m always sure to eat some Imos Pizza and Toasted Ravioli. I usually end up having lunch with my mom at The Tea Room at Clayton and Kers Mill (by Party Pastry). We browse Florabunda afterwards. My sister and I go to St. Louis Bread Company and Chesterfield Mall.
Where did you go to high school? – Lucas from Kirkwood, MO
I went to Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves, Missouri.
I went to Truman State University in Kirksville, MO. I was 2 years behind you in school. Do you miss the Morrison’s food? – Amy from Missouri
I definitely do not miss Morrisons food. I was a caterer for them my freshman year. I do miss the Hy-Vee brand cheese puffs. They are the best cheese puffs on the planet.
If you could take any job for just one month, what job would you like to have? (Assume that you would have the knowledge to perform adequately.) – Jen from the USA
This is a hard question. I love doing different jobs. I think I’d try to be a teacher. Just for a month. I don’t know how my mom and sister do it. I think nurses and teachers have the hardest jobs on the planet mostly because they are so underappreciated.
Was that your real mom on the Sexual Harassment episode? – Sarah from Nashville, TN
No, my real mom is a history teacher from St. Louis Missouri. She also taught me my first acting class when I was 5 years old. It was at summer school. The other members of that class were Sean and Beth Gunn. I grew up and married their brother.
Are there any plans for a guest appearance by Ricky Gervais? – Mike A. from Des Plaines, IL
None so far. But I believe he and Stephen Merchant are writing one of our episodes for Season Three.
How do I get a work shirt that says Dunder-Mifflin on it? – Robert from Fairfield, CA
They have tons of cool Dunder-Mifflin stuff created by different fans. I just bought my friend a onesie for her newborn that says, “You have won a tiny Dundie”. I think NBC.com has some shirts now too.
Do you happen to know if they are going to put the office photo, that Michael paid a fortune for, online at NBC.com? – Heather from Marietta, GA
I don’t know but our executive producer gave each member of the cast a copy of that photo as a gift. It is in my living room next to my Dundie. It’s very creepy.
Which Office star is the most unlike the character they play? I have a feeling you’re going to say Angela, but I’m curious. – Linds from California
Everyone is very different from their character. Kate is not a drunk in real life, Oscar is not gay, Angela smiles a lot, and Rainn is actually very hip and cool. The person most like his character is probably Creed he has tons of very random, crazy stories. He keeps us entertained. Oh, and Phyllis is gentle and sweet just like she is on the show. Everyone loves Phyllis.
You once told us that all the pauses and stares are scripted. Just wondering how much freedom you had in movements. For example, when in this episode you move the coke can to Jim, you don’t do it in a single movement, but a series of small pushes. Another one is when Jim goes off to try to buy Pam the coke, you sort of run after him. How much of those movements are scripted and how much is improvised or thought up on the set? – Pieter from Amsterdam, Netherlands
I should correct myself…not all of our pauses and stares are scripted but many are. We have a lot of freedom as performers on the show and we do improvise sometimes. It is just that our shows are fully scripted.
Our movements are not scripted. We work things out with the director in terms of where to move but little moments like tapping the can are not planned. For some reason, I decided to tap the soda can 3 times. I did it in one take and the director liked it so we kept it in. And I was skipping after Jim to buy a coke because I was in a really giddy mood that week. I think it showed in my performance. It was our last week of shooting before summer and we were like crazy kids in the last week of school.
After THE KISS, was there dialogue between Pam and Jim that was muted/cut? It looks like (upon the 574th viewing) you said something and John either responded or tried to form a word, but couldn’t. You don’t have to tell us the content, but please verify if there was or wasn’t dialogue. – Jennifer from Easton, PA
There was no dialogue.
Do you ever have encounters with people who insist that “the British version is better”, sometimes to the point of being anti-“the American version”? – Stephen from Provo, UT
I once had a person flag me down from across the room at a party. She got my attention and came over to tell me that she was a HUGE fan of the BBC version of The Office. She recently started watching our version and just had to come over and talk to me. She said that our version was “not so great” but that I was “really good”. Uh…thanks?
I just watched Lollilove, and it was hilarious. Question: is that your real wedding footage? – Lauren from Chicago, IL
Yes. My husband and I were married in the St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis, MO in 2000.
So now that you’re like a big superstar does that mean you have a huge mansion and a sweet car…or 5 cars? – Chris from Gaithersburg, MD
I do not have a huge mansion. But I do have a sweet car. I splurged on a black Mercedes C55. It goes really fast and I love it.
Do you ever feel like you are unable to do the everyday things in life that you did before, now that you’re in the public eye? – Tara from San Diego, CA
Yes and no. People watch me when I grocery shop or stare when I enter a restaurant. I feel like I have to edit my conversations when I am in public like when waiting in line with friends to buy a coffee or waiting to see a movie. I am very careful about who/what I talk about in public. It’s been an adjustment. Fans are always really nice if they say “hello” and I like meeting nice people. In some ways, the world seems like a friendlier place. It would sort of be like running into an old high school friend everywhere you go. Plus, I get to drive a sweet car. I like that part too.
In other news…this week is a rerun of the Christmas episode. One of my favorites!! Who doesn’t love to see Angela go mental on the Christmas ornaments. And, before you ask, I don’t know what Jim wrote on the card. John said he wrote something but he wont tell.
Thanks for all your emails about Celebrity Poker Showdown. I would like to apologize for waving my breasts at the camera, not once but three times. Yikes! And yes, I was wearing a Beesly hoodie. Isn’t it adorable! Angela had them made for our trip. We wore them the whole time. It’s super-comfy. She posted some pictures on her page of our hoodies and of us in the private jet. Check ’em out. I’ve also enjoyed all of your emails telling me of your trips to New Orleans. There are so many good people out there helping to rebuild. It’s very touching.
If you are a fan of LolliLove, we just posted an interview with me and Jennifer from the movie on our LolliLove MySpace page. Over the next few weeks I plan to interview some of the cast and crew from the movie. Enjoy! http://www.myspace.com/LolliLove
If you are in New York and would like to see LolliLove, it will be screening as a part of the NewFilmmakers Series on July 5th at 8:45pm at Anthology Film Archives on the Lower East Side at the corner of Second Avenue & 2nd Street. Check www.NewFilmmakers.com for details.
Finally, check out the contest at www.Officetally.com. OfficeTally and Northern Attack are giving away a brand new video iPod! Just answer eight questions, one a week, to be eligible for the prize. The iPod Giveaway started last week, and guess who got to ask the first question? Me!
Now Playing: Vagabond by Willie Wisely. The song that made me fall in love with his music. Have a great week!