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 Kmart.com 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…

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