B.J. Novak TV Guide blog: Office Olympics

From B.J. Novak’s TV Guide blog, dated October 4, 2005:

Michael and Co. Hit the Road
by B.J. Novak aka “Ryan”

It’s Tuesday again. Tuesday, of course, is a tough day for a lot of people, because it’s halfway between the weekend and Hump Day. This is why many people call it “Tuesday the Bluesday.” Or at least they will, now that I just invented it here.

The good news about Tuesdays this fall is that there are all-new episodes of The Office [airing at 9:30 pm/ET on NBC], and, in turn, all-new stories on TVGuide.com — stories about what it was like to make the show.

Tonight’s episode is about the “Office Olympics,” an impromptu event that organizes all the weird little office games that people play into one giant, “point”-ful event. This takes place while Michael (Steve Carell) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson), the two people who would normally prevent these games from taking on epic proportions, are out of the office on a mission to purchase a condo for Michael.

There were a lot of fun elements to making this episode. On the Office set, we got to play a lot of games and do the small, observational things that we always have liked doing. But we also got to make a field trip outside of the office to the condo location.

And we got to shoot a scene between the office and the condo — in Michael’s car. Choosing cars for the characters is always a lot of fun. Our producer, Kent [Zbornak], usually comes into the writing offices with a bunch of pictures of cars that are available for the week’s shooting. We get to tell a lot about the characters through their cars.

Michael Scott, we always knew, would drive a gleaming new Sebring convertible — we figured it’s the showiest car that he could afford, and it’s worth it to him to drive a convertible even in a cold-weather climate. Originally I thought that the toxically alpha-male salesman Todd Packer should drive a Mustang, but when those weren’t available, Kent chose a red Corvette, which I thought was even better. (Todd Packer’s license plate, displayed in last week’s episode, told us about him in far more explicit terms — WLHUNG.) In next week’s episode, “The Fire,” we get to see Dwight’s car as well as Ryan’s car. Big car episode coming up.

“Office Olympics” brought multiple incidents of minor bad luck involving cars. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a curse, but… you can decide for yourself. During the scene in Michael’s car, our cameraman, Randall, broke the back window of Michael’s Sebring, which cost the production $859 to replace. The same week, the writer of the episode, Michael Schur, was involved in tiny accident that set him back $836, but not before he raised over $30,000 for hurricane relief while trying to shame the other guy into not replacing his bumper. (It’s a long, good story, and you can read more at saabbumper.blogspot.com or in the Oct. 3 issue of the New Yorker.)

Too much about cars; back to Office territory. Some overall updates on the show: Our ratings are up a lot over last year, thanks in large part to airing alongside My Name Is Earl, which has a similar audience to our show since it’s a similarly off-beat, smart comedy. NBC ordered seven more episodes of Office last week. And Nate, our P.A., got a haircut over the weekend. It looks pretty OK.

Sometimes we get into potentially offensive areas on The Office, sometimes we don’t. It’s important to us to make the show feel funny and real by reflecting the way that people actually talk and act in offices. And, of course, it’s different from week to week. Last week’s much-talked-about “Sexual Harassment” episode aired with a “Viewer Discretion Advised” warning, and in Kentucky the episode didn’t air at all.

We hope that this week we will be allowed to air Steve Carell’s real-estate freakout in all 50 states.

Until next week…

Jenna Fischer MySpace blog: “The Fight” – November 1st – Behind the Scenes!

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

I’d like to start by saying that I’ve seen clips of this week’s show and it is awesome! We usually have to wait until the show airs to see it but I sneaked a peak one day when I was visiting the writing room last week. John Krasinski is particularly hilarious in this episode. He has some subtle stuff that is just delicious. The show was written by a writing team that is new to our show this season and they are incredible. Way to go Gene and Lee! There are a few scenes in tonight’s show that are so packed with jokes that my head was spinning. My favorite is the one where Michael confronts Dwight in the kitchen. Dwight says one of his favorite sayings, “Tit for tit.” Brilliant!

I also love this episode because it features a very real office dynamic between Pam and Michael. I think a lot of secretaries will relate.

In this episode: Dwight earns a purple belt in karate and wears it to work. This sparks an argument between Dwight and Michael about who is tougher. It escalates until they agree to meet at Dwight’s karate studio at lunch to duke it out. Our director of photography, Randall, used to work on Survivor so he’s seen everything. He is super good about not laughing during a scene. The show is all hand held camera so if he laughs, it’s over. During the scene at the karate studio, Randall was laughing so hard he had tears streaming down his face. He had to take the camera off his shoulder and hold it away from his body so it wouldn’t shake during the scene. It was as much fun to watch Randall trying to hold it together as it was to watch Rainn and Steve fighting. It was a fun day of shooting.

Now that I’ve built it up… enjoy the show! I posted a few new pictures too.

Some of you have asked if I was ever a real secretary/receptionist and the answer is yes. I worked for over 5 years in various secretarial positions. It is how I earned a living as a struggling actor. I can type 85 WPM with almost 90% accuracy. I’m still very proud of that. When I type on the show as Pam I try to slow it down. I don’t think Pam can type that fast.

Finally, I think John Krasinski is going to be on Conan this Wednesday night so check it out!

Jenna Fischer MySpace blog: Tonight – The Fire

From Jenna Fischer’s MySpace blog, dated October 11, 2005:

Tonight’s episode is called The Fire. This is because someone starts a fire in the office and we all have to evacuate. I won’t say who started the fire – that’s a nice twist.

Some trivia about this episode:

  1. It was 100 degrees outside but we had to pretend it was 70. We pretended for 12 hours a day. It got most difficult around 3-4pm. You can’t really control sweat. Oh, and all the girls had to wear tights and panty hose. Yikes!
  2. This is actually the first episode we shot of the second season. We were all really excited to be back at work. We were very chatty and hung out as a group telling stories between scenes.
  3. A giant bug lived in the tree by where we are standing. It was NOT HAPPY that we were filming by his tree. It kept landing on Angela. It was seriously huge – like the size of a hummingbird. John entertained us all day by doing imitations of the bug carrying Angela away.
  4. Mateo the fireman was hot. The girls got all giggly whenever he would walk by. He was a real fireman.
  5. B.J. Novak wrote this episode. He also wrote: Diversity Day and Sexual Harassment.


Jenna on TV Guide’s podcast

Jenna Fischer (“Pam”) is special guest on TV Guide’s weekly podcast. She has so much fun chatting with the TV Guide crew, she stays for the rest of the podcast to talk about the other TV shows!

And you must listen to Jenna exclaim, “What a delicious boner!” Priceless.

Click here to download the audio clip. (Clip no longer available)

B.J. Novak TV Guide blog: Sexual Harassment

From B.J. Novak’s TV Guide blog, dated September 27, 2005:

The Boss Man and “Packman”
by B.J. Novak aka “Ryan”

Previously, on B.J. Novak’s blog…

— “Have you ever seen that show The Office on NBC? The place where I work is just like that.”
— “I work on the NBC show The Office. I play Ryan the temp, and I’m also one of nine writers who come up with ideas for the show and then take turns turning them into scripts.”
— “Like many people who work in offices, I am going to start keeping a blog — in my case, for TVGuide.com.”
— “Don’t open the hatch!”

This week’s episode of The Office is entitled “Sexual Harassment.” First, let me say that I like it when things have very straightforward titles, so that the audience knows exactly what they’re going to get. The 40 Year Old Virgin was about a 40-year-old virgin; Wedding Crashers was about wedding crashers; The Constant Gardener was excruciatingly boring.

This our first episode in which viewer discretion is advised. So if you view this show, please be discreet about it. I imagine TV-MA ratings are pretty rare for network comedies. But it’s good for NBC — the more comedies reflect the way people actually talk, the more refreshing they are, in my opinion. I’m glad they’re airing it.

Another “first” of this episode is that we meet a new character who is very entertaining in his own right: Todd Packer. “Packman” is the larger-than-life friend/idol/bully of the boss, Michael Scott. Todd Packer is a bad influence on Michael who sweeps into the office and unleashes a torrent of inappropriate behavior and language.

To cast the part, we needed to find a comic actor who could really go head-to-head with Steve Carell. Our first choice was David Koechner, a great comic actor who was also one of the stars of Anchorman. We had to delay production of the episode so that he could carve out time in his schedule, but there are few people who are talented enough to make Steve Carell break up on set, and we figured it was worth it.

I feel like this blog isn’t that funny. I hope the episode tonight makes up for that. In the future, I will try to divide my mental energy so that the balance is more 50-50.

Until next week…