Jenna Fischer TV Guide blog: Supersize Office Finale, Supersize Blog!

From Jenna Fischer’s TV Guide blog, dated May 11, 2006:

Tonight is the supersize season finale of NBC’s The Office! Be sure to start watching early. The show starts at 9:20 pm ET, and you don’t want to miss a single minute.

In tonight’s episode, “Casino Night,” the employees of Dunder-Mifflin transform the warehouse into a casino and everyone gambles for charity. The episode was written by our very own Steve Carell and directed by Office favorite Ken Kwapis.

Yes, there will be plenty of romance tonight. But it might not be what you expect. Michael ends up with two dates to the party. One of his dates is played by his real-life wife, Nancy Walls (The 40 Year Old Virgin). You might remember her as the real-estate agent who recently ran into Michael at his ice-skating party. Well, she’s back. And so is Jan.

In other news, Pam gets a new look — sort of. You see her in a party dress, and she does a little something extra with her hair. Like in the Valentine’s Day episode, when Pam wore a headband, I had to test several different hairdos for the finale. It was girlie fun to stay after work and have the hair designer, Kim, put my hair in pretty curls and various updos. In the end we decided that we had to choose a hairstyle that Pam could’ve done at home with a curling iron and some bobby pins.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Lots will happen tonight. Kevin has a secret revealed, Creed tries to hide one, Phyllis surprises everyone, Angela slaps Dwight, and Jim makes a decision about Stamford.

And yes, there is a special Jim-Pam moment. The two characters square off during the poker tournament — but that’s all I can say.

It has been an emotional few days for me with the finale approaching. This is a huge milestone for us. No one really thought we would make it this far. I have a Polaroid photo from our very first day of work, on the pilot episode. It was funny because Steve Carell said, “One day this photo will be worth money. Especially after they fire me and replace me with a new actor for Episode 2. You’ll all look at this photo and say, ‘Awww, remember Steve What’s-His-Name? He was sweet. I wonder what he’s up to now.'” We all laughed. But we secretly wondered if any of us would make it to Episode 2. Here we are tonight — Episode 28. And we’re all coming back for more!

On the one hand, I’m relieved to have the finale airing. I’ve been carrying around the secret cliff-hangers for two months now! But in another way, I am sad. I’ve had insider scoop for a long time. Now I’m like everyone else — I don’t know what’s going to happen next!

Like Rachel from Darien, Wisc., you might be wondering if I will continue this blog after the season is over. I’m sad to say that this is my last blog for a while. It has been a tough assignment keeping up with the blog every week. (Just ask my editors, who keep getting my blogs at 3 am on Thursday mornings instead of noon on Wednesdays like we planned.) I would like to reserve the right to come back and post again from time to time. But for now, this is it. I’m taking the summer off.

Before I go, I thought it would only be fair to answer some more viewer questions. Here we go:

Joe from Wichita, Kan.: “In the latest episode, ‘Drug Testing,’ did Steve Carell hurt his ring finger? I thought I saw a bandage on it.”
Good eye. Steve hurt his finger (I can’t remember how) and it swelled up so badly that he couldn’t remove his wedding ring. Of course, we didn’t expect him to cut off his wedding ring for the show so they put a bandage around it. His finger is fine now.

Jane from Cranford, N.J.: “I’m a die-hard Office fan and don’t think I’ve ever missed an episode, so I’m puzzled about something and hope you can clear it up for me. Why does Michael hate Toby?”
There is no particular reason. By that I mean, there wasn’t a certain incident that started the feud. Basically, Michael is jealous of Toby. Toby is respected and well liked by the people in the office. He is even funny sometimes. People confide in him. These are all the things Michael wants, so he hates Toby. It all started in the second episode of the first season, “Diversity Day.” Michael calls everyone into the conference room for a meeting. On the way in, Toby makes a joke and everyone laughs. Michael throws him out. He pretends like it is because he is offended that Toby is making a joke during a serious office meeting, but the real reason is because it got a laugh. Plus, Toby reports directly to the corporate office. Michael doesn’t really have any power over him. And in some ways Toby has power over Michael because he can report Michael’s crazy antics to corporate. This makes Michael feel insecure and powerless around Toby. And Michael hates that. Or, in other words, he hates Toby.

Jim from St. Louis, Mo.: “As your totally unbiased father, I have to say [the ‘Drug Testing’ blog] was your best yet. I can’t wait for the finale. My guess is that you dump Jim, hook up with Dwight and Angela kills you.”
OK, so that’s not really a question. But, my dad wrote in and I thought it was really sweet, so I added it.

I have to say, I find it very interesting that my husband (horror director James Gunn) said that in his version of the finale, Jim cuts off Pam’s head. On, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, John Krasinski said Pam bursts into flames. And now my dad says that Angela kills Pam. Why is everyone trying to kill Pam!?

Joshua from Huntington, W. Va.: “In your last blog entry you said that your Dundie was your favorite Office keepsake. What other props have you gotten to keep?”
I got to keep a pad of paper with the Dunder-Mifflin letterhead and a Michael Scott business card. The card is in my scrapbook.

Will from Decatur, Ga.: “I have two questions: First, was Ryan’s reaction to the negotiation of the Dwight-Angela cookie question (in ‘Michael’s Birthday’) your ‘fall-off-your-couch’ moment? It was mine. Hilarious! I also wondered if the skating kids in that same episode were Steve Carell and Nancy Wall’s kids in real life.”
OK, first question: not originally. The Ryan moment was not in the early version of the episode that I saw. The moment that originally made me fall off my couch (and subsequently get scratched by my cat) was when Kelly described her sister’s funeral as the second saddest funeral she’d ever seen, after the funeral of Lady Di. But the Ryan moment made me fall off my couch, too. Luckily, my cat was not on my lap that time. As for the skating kids, they were actors.

Bill from Bothell, Wash.: “How long does it take you to memorize your lines for any given episode?”
I know the character of Pam so well and she is so well written that the memorization comes very naturally. It isn’t so much a matter of memorizing the words, it’s more about discovering the truth and emotion of the moments.

Every night before bed, I read the entire script for that week. (It takes us one week to shoot an episode.) I read the script to remind myself of the overall story and of Pam’s journey in particular. Then I focus on the scenes we are shooting the next day. I read them several times over again — sometimes I read aloud. If there is an important scene, either emotionally or comedically, I will ask my husband to read it with me and give me pointers. I make notes in the script. At work, I keep the script at my desk and I glace at the scenes once or twice before we start rolling.

I spend more time rehearsing the interview segments because those are harder. Angela and I often run our interview segments for one another. We check to be sure we have the lines correct.

Ann from Thousand Oaks, Calif.: “I was wondering if it is hard to do the scenes where it’s just you talking to the camera. It seems like it would be harder to do that than to do a scene where you are talking to a real person.”
Yes, I find them harder for that exact reason. Usually the director will prompt us with a question so that it seems more like a real back-and-forth type of interview situation. That helps. And sometimes he or she will ask us a few fake questions and we will improvise to warm up. We just keep chatting until they prompt us into the scripted part. And sometimes they end up using our improvisations.

Katie from Springville, Utah: “So I was wondering… what’s your favorite Pam line of all time? I can’t pick!”
“Please don’t throw garbage at me” from “Basketball,” Season 1.

Jackson from Des Moines, Iowa: “What is the craziest thing that you’ve done in a background scene of The Office, and did it make on the air?”
This is an awesome question. Unfortunately I don’t have an awesome answer. During the Christmas episode I ordered online a lot of Christmas presents, right from my desk, but you can’t tell. One time I was cold and put on my sweatpants instead of my skirt and sat behind the desk. No one noticed. During a scene where they filmed me working on my wedding-invitation list, I wrote the names of my real family members. Oh, and sometimes I eat crackers. See, not very exciting.

Merideth from Sterling, Va.: “Why is Pam always sitting with Michael in his office? It doesn’t look like she is taking any notes. Is it because corporate has required Michael not to be alone with any of the employees?”
I think it is because he likes to feel important, like he has an assistant. But he doesn’t really have anything for her to do. If you notice, he does it to Ryan, too.

Greg from Long Beach, Calif.: “Can you tell us any info about The Office Season 2 DVD release? Have you recorded any commentary? Please put lots of extra scenes and bloopers in there…. I’ll need it to carry me through the summer until Season 3 starts!”
I don’t have any information on our Season 2 DVD release. We haven’t recorded any commentary but I know we are all willing to do it again this year. It was a lot of fun last time.

To help you over the summer hiatus, will be posting several Office webisodes. The mini-episodes are all new and revolve around the accounting department and their search for missing money. I’m not sure when they will become available, but I know it is sometime over the summer. I hope that helps!

Rochelle from Radcliffe, Iowa: “Hey Jenna, I saw you on Ellen last week. Do you really have a MySpace page? If so what’s your address?”
Yes, I really do. It is I also write blogs on MySpace, and I post behind-the-scenes photos from the show. I’m not the only office member with a MySpace page: other Office characters have pages, too. They are Angela, Meredith, Kevin, Toby, Ryan, Roy and Darryl.

Jim, Dwight and Michael do not have MySpace pages. There are fans who started pages for them, but they are not associated with the actors from the show. The only actors with real MySpace pages are the people in my “Top 8,” plus Roy and Darryl.

We created our MySpace pages as a way to keep occupied during our many long hours doing background work on the show. Our computers really work so we thought it would be fun to blog about the show from our desks. Also, we credit our fans for keeping us on the air. We have heard so many cool stories about people planning dinner parties with friends as a way to force them to watch The Office and increase our fan base. We love our show as much as the fans do, and we wanted to geek out together!

If you write to me on MySpace you should know a few things:

1. I keep the page myself. It is not run by NBC or a producer or anyone. It’s just little old me so it takes a long time to go through things. Sometimes I’ll ask my assistant to help with Friend Requests. But so far, I read all the mail myself.
2. I cannot write you or your friends a personal e-mail, so don’t send me your personal e-mail addresses. If I sent out e-mails, then my e-mail address would get around and I have to keep that private.
3. Sometimes (very rarely) I write people back through MySpace, but most of the time I can’t, so please don’t take it personally.
4. I cannot send you money.
5. I cannot accept interview requests for television and radio stations via MySpace. They have to be coordinated by the NBC publicity department. Please contact them directly.
6. We aren’t filming right now. We are on a summer break and we go back to work at the end of July. It is easy to keep up our pages when we spend 10 hours a day at our “desks” but hard to keep up with them over the summer. We may miss a lot of your messages until then.

Finally, if you have a question, check my blogs. I answer a lot of questions in my blogs, and chances are the information you are looking for is in there. For example, I wrote a blog about where to send autograph requests.

My most frequently asked MySpace questions: No, John Krasinski does not have a MySpace page. Yes, he is cute, sweet and funny in real life. No, I cannot set him up with you or your friend.

Finally, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your nice letters and for your support of our show. I really, really, mean it. I have enjoyed this as much as you have. So, thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity not only to be a working actor but to work on something that makes me so excited I don’t care that my day starts at 5 am. (And my family knows that me waking up before 10 am is a miracle.) I hope we can keep making this show for a long, long time. See you in the fall!

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