B.J. Novak answers ‘Chair Model’ questions

Q. How long did it take to film Jim’s fake-out proposal/shoelace scene? The light was so beautiful and natural there, I can’t imagine it would have lasted long. | Michelle

A. The light was very pretty that night. I wondered if it might be too pretty at the time, but I think the contrast of their chain link fence and the rest of that stretch of the block brought the beauty down to earth.

Q. When Michael was giving his speech about dating, was it intentional that the camera crew zoomed in on Toby when Michael was talking about getting laid, Kelly when he was talking about having babies, and Pam when he was talking about being in love? | Catherine

A. Nice observation. I hadn’t noticed that. It’s possible Jeff Blitz or Dean Holland or Greg Daniels put that together consciously in the editing room. Certainly, the cut to Toby was because Michael had just veered into inappropriate territory, and it’s Toby’s job to take note of that (his talking head about it in the deleted scenes, available online, was originally intended to follow this scene). As for Kelly and Pam, I don’t know the intent behind those editing choices, in terms of who made them or whether they were intuitive or intentional, but I like them.

Q. Did y’all fake Jenna out with Jim getting down on his knee? Like filming it normally with the script without the knee and then the final take, having John do the knee thing. | sorano916

A. No, they’re just really good actors.

Q. Was there any moment cut out of the final version of the episode that you really wished had been included? | DrunkBiking

A. You know, we had a thirty-eight minute cut that was amazing that Dean Holland did; and then Jeff Blitz did a thirty-two cut that was amazing as well; and we had no idea how it would ever get down to show length. Somehow, Dean and Greg found a balance in the end. It’s really an exceptional final edit; even though I loved the longer cuts, nothing feels “missing” to me in this version. Those guys are great editors. Also, knowing that deleted scenes get to survive on the web and DVD always makes it less painful to cut stuff out.

Q. What is your favorite line(s) in the episode? | Grace

A. Michael’s line “I don’t want to be the one who got away” is a great Michael Scott line. I think Greg wrote that. It’s such an elegant joke that is so revealing about his character. Other favorite moments are Steve’s delivery of “She’s crazy” to Kevin.

I like Andy’s monologue about “I did this for Joe Sixpack,” of which several takes were improvised. I was laughing so hard that I had to leave the room as they shot it. In several of his scenarios, he mentioned “waking up in a four-hundred-dollar-a-month apartment” and then “milking the cows” before going to his job at the factory.

Q. What was it like working with Jeffrey Blitz? Was the the first time he’s directed an Office episode or have you worked with him previously? | what’s the dealio?

A. This is his third “Office” episode; he’s also done “The Convict” and “The Negotiation,” both of which I think were expertly directed. (He also directed “Spellbound,” an actual documentary with lots of wonderful comic moments.) He contributed a lot to this episode.

One contribution of his that stands out in my mind is the composition of the scene in Michael’s office as he contemplates “closure” with Dwight, with Michael’s feet on the desk and the camera shooting from the doorway. It looked great, felt natural, and yet somehow we had never thought to stage a scene that way before.

72 comments

  1. Awesome BJ! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day to answer our questions. Once again, I have to say how much I love The Office and and sheer brilliance of the writers. Muchos Gracias.

  2. that was so fun to read!! Thanks you guys! I definitely love the ending, one of my favourites!

  3. This is a really great feature Tanster, I hope it becomes a regular addition to OT! Thanks to BJ (and Gene and Lee for last time).

  4. Thank you, BJ! You are a wonderful writer and an absolute doll for taking the time out for us!

  5. B.J.- The Office is without a doubt the best show on TV, and that is due to the dedication of its writers and actors. It is such a joy to watch. For you to take time out of what must be an incredibly long day to answer fans questions is fantastic…many thanks!

  6. Awesome! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Undoubtedly, “The Office,” is the best 30 minutes of the week.

    I still maintain that it was Jan/Melora Hardin as the chair model. :)

  7. What a treat! thanks, tanster and BJ.. please do these for all episodes…more more more
    looking forward to tomorrow…………

  8. HA, I KNEW that Kev was using the footbath!

    Thanks B.J. and Tan monster for another look into the brains of our favourite writers!

  9. I’ve been waiting for this post! Again – a great set of questions, thanks BJ for taking the time for us! And Tanster…I really hope this becomes a regular feature on OT! Woohoo!!!

  10. Wow! Thank you, BJ, for answering so many questions! This is a big part of why I love this show so much!

  11. Thanks for the thoughtful answers, B.J.

    I think you’re having a great season, by the way. Both “Local Ad” and “Chair Model” were excellent.

  12. a-maaaaaa-zing!
    Thanks, BJ.

    And tanster, if this Q&A with the writers was your idea, you’re a genius. And I thank you.

  13. Thank you tanster and B.J. Such thoughtful answers. I really hope this becomes a regular thing!

    I was really hoping B.J. would answer the question about why Creed needs three chairs. But honestly what I was really hoping was that B.J. would answer that question with, “We don’t really know! Creed is a mystery.” So, I guess it doesn’t matter, does it? :-)

    Can’t wait for Night Out tomorrow!

  14. That was so interesting! This was a great episode that hit on everything I love about The Office. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s even more–BJ Novak generously shares the writers’ perspective! It’s a wonderful treat, incomparably gracious, so thanks very much!

  15. Thanks for answering these questions, BJ. I really love getting the inside scoop on my favorite show!

  16. I don’t know if this has been mentioned in the comments already, but the actress who played Pam’s Landlady was also the Home Ec teacher in Superbad.

  17. I love this! Thanks B.J. This was such a great idea Tanster, to have them answer questions, I hope we get to see this for the rest of the season, it just tops everything off perfectly.

  18. Oh, dear. Cool Guy Paul. Interesting that in the interview he did about the episode, he just says that he got a tour of the set through some acting “connections” — like being the cousin of one of the writers :).

    Thanks for the answers, BJ. I still want to know what the story behind Pam being a slob :).

  19. Great work BJ!!!

    Kevin Malone was priceless this episode and Jam was Jammy good.

    Thanks Tanster

  20. BJ and Tanster, thank you SO much. It makes the show infinitely more brilliant and fascinating to have the inside scoop. BJ, you’re very generous!

  21. Thanks, BJ! It’s so great to get insight into the show, particularly about the characters themselves.

    Terrific episode by the way :)

  22. nice observation about pam’s landlady and superbad! she is also in a ‘Reddi Wip’ commercial on tv right now.

  23. Did anyone else just go to CoolGuyPaul.com and started getting worried and then spent $150 on emergency disaster supplies?…

  24. Thank you very, very, much for setting this up! It’s amazing that the already very-busy writers are willing to share what goes on “inside the story” on these episodes. I totally love it! I can’t believe how accessible the writers are (thanks, guys!)–and tanster, thank you for working this out for us to enjoy!

  25. Just wanted to add my thanks to BJ and tanster for this great Q & A. The writers are such a huge part of The Office and it’s so great that the fans (though tanster and OT) have such incredible access to them and that they are so willing to share some insight into these episodes. I hope these Q & A’s can keep going – I’d really love to hear from Mindy about this week’s episode too!

  26. Thanks, BJ, for taking the time to answer the great questions. This was such an awesome episode and seemed to be an ultimate collaborative effort. You are all so talented!!

  27. Loved the answers BJ gives. What a fun episode to write. I feel like everyone that works there is, in some way, related either by marriage or by blood to Angela Kinsey (Greg Daniels, Paul/Toby, Cool Guy Paul)… I’m adopted. I wonder if I have any Kinsey heritage?

  28. Thanks for taking the time to answer all those questions, B.J. It was a fantastic read!

  29. A feature I would like to see on upcoming DVD’s: The director’s cut versions of episodes, or options to include deleted scenes while watching the episodes. You know, so the deleted scenes appear in order while you’re watching. That would be cool.

  30. Ah! I wish I would have submitted a question on time…but maybe i’ll just ask you tallyheads what you think? do you think that they shot the cemetery scene on a fake cemetery? I mean it would be sooo disrespectful to be dancing around and being so silly like that in a real cemetery, no?

  31. Thank you so much for giving us this extra insight into the show we all love so much! What other show has writers/actors/producers/directors who are so giving of their time and talent to their fans??? And what other fan website has such an awesome administrator who thinks up great ideas like this Q&A segment and then has the connections to pull it off? Thanks Tanster! And thanks to B.J. and Gene and Lee for taking the time to answer. I really hope to hear from Mindy too!!!

  32. Thanks for using my question, Tanster (and thanks for answering BJ)!

    I hope this continues…it’s really cool to get the background behind these episodes so soon after watching them!

  33. I would have died to see Michael and Dwight singing ‘Legs’ about the chair model. But, it ended pretty well anyway.

  34. lol, I seriously saw that Reddi Whip commercial with Pam’s landlady like 10 minutes after I watched this episode and I was completely thrown off!

    Thanks BJ and tanster :-)

  35. I concur with everyone above…great to have a Q&A feature with guest responders! Really appreciate the time BJ took to answer questions and of course Jennie for setting it up.

    I love any behind-the-scenes insight like this. It proves that the fans are sharp (like picking up that Kevin was using his footbath) and the writers for making these characters so real and remembering their histories (even though we didn’t see the footbath in the broadcast version, the writers put it there and we noticed).

    LOVED the Paul Faust story – how he got cast, using his real name, and how he connected his real website to his character. Just brilliant!

  36. Thanks Tanster and BJ! It is really great to have these Q&As! Just another reason (the graciousness of everyone involved) why The Office is my favorite show!

  37. Just as brilliant as last time. Thank you so much BJ and Tanster. Our writers are the best. Hope to hear from Mindy as well. This is sort of, kind of a regular column now, yes? :) Once again thanks.

  38. I didn’t think about the cemetery angle until it was brought up here, but yea, it would seem kinda strange to take a small film crew into a real cemetery to film a comedy where a guy dances on a grave.
    In tanster’s set blog there was a pic of fake Schrute headstones in the prop dept. It’s plausible it’s either a fake cemetery or real with fake headstones(esp those Dwight jumped on.)

  39. Thank you B.J. for providing such great answers and thank you Tan Monster for setting this up!

  40. This is so cool because it shows you just how down to earth the Office people are. They sound like they’d be so fun to hang out with.

  41. 66 – I doubt it was in a real cemetery. They had to have made that gravestone, and most cemeteries have visitors and ceremonies each day. They can’t just shut one down because a show has to film.

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