Hangin’ at The Office

It’s safe to say Stroudsburg High School grad Danny Chun is living the life I would have loved to lead.

He’s been in Hollywood for six years, and in that time, he’s written and produced The Simpsons, and for the last year, he’s on the writing staff of The Office. He also had the honor of writing part 1 of last week’s Office, The Delivery, where Jim and Pam had their baby. Yes, it’s an honor to write something like that, and Chun knows it as a fan of the show before he started working there.

So if Danny will excuse me, I’d like to switch lives with him now.

No?

Can’t blame a guy for trying.

In addition to talking to me about the basics for a story that probably will be in tomorrow’s Pocono Record, he took some extra time to answer some insider-type questions, the things you want hear about but don’t have anyone to ask who really knows the answer. But Chun has the answers. Well, he’s got some of them. He’s pretty honest in his answers, so enjoy a quick minute or two with a local-boy-done-good:

It's hard to see, but that's the sign board for the building of Dunder Mifflin. You'll just have to trust me.

It's hard to see, but that's the sign board for the building of Dunder Mifflin. You'll just have to trust me.

Me: With the movie careers of many of the show’s stars taking off — Steve Carrel (Michael), John Krasinski (Jim), Ed Helms (Andy), Rainn Wilson (Dwight) — how long do you think the show can last with its cast intact?
Chun: That question is above my pay grade, but so far we’ve been pretty successful at accommodating the actors’ movie careers. There are production hiatuses where the cast is free to act in whatever movies they want.

Me: Do you think The Office would be able to continue with a new cast?
Chun: That’s always scary, but we’ve had great success with introducing new cast members. Ed Helms and Ellie Kemper (who plays new secretary Kelly) come to mind. So we feel that we’re a show that can phase-in new actors and keep the viewers interested.

Me: As a long-time fan of the show (he saw every episode before he started working there) you must have realized the importance of The Delivery to fans. How much of a rush was it to write that episode knowing how important it was?
Chun: It was certainly an honor, but I didn’t have much time to really relish it. The challenges were too pressing and the schedule was too tight. Baby episodes are notoriously difficult, so we really worked hard to do it well, in a way that was original and also consistent with our show.

Me: Was there extra pressure because it was so important?
Chun: Maybe, but for someone like me who imagines pressure even when it’s not there, it felt the same as ever.

Me: Do you try to take the fans into account when you’re writing?
Chun: It’s hard because the fans don’t have a consensus opinion. I wish they’d all just get organized and present me with one opinion; that’d be a lot easier. In reality I just listen to my own opinion, because I was and still am a big fan of the show

Me: Why is “The Office” the only show on TV where the stars are also the writers and producers? B.J. Novak (Ryan), Mindy Kaling (Kelly) and Paul Liberstein (Toby) and write and produce episodes.
Chun: Well, Tina Fey does it on 30 Rock. But for all its upsides (you get to have really talented people contribute to the show in multiple ways), the practicalities of the production schedule make it a really brutal thing to ask of a person. Paul, BJ, and Mindy work the longest hours of anybody. It’s amazing they aren’t huge jerks.

Me: Have you ever been asked to act on the show?
Chun: It’s been floated casually. I’m holding out for a really juicy role.

Me: Seth Gordon, who directed King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, one of my favorite movies of the last decade, directed The Delivery for you. Why does “The Office” attract such big-time directors? Jason Reitman, Joss Whedon and Harold Ramis also have directed multiple episodes. That’s extremely rare for a TV show. Why does “The Office” attract such big-time directors?
Chun: A lot of directors we’ve attracted have been fans of the show. And when they’re between marathon movie projects, the commitment we ask of them (a couple weeks) is probably a nice change of pace. Seth was awesome, by the way. Really great at interpreting the script and helping the actors deliver great performances. 

So there it is. Next time Chun writes an episode that makes the air, we’ll see if he’ll answer some questions about that episodes.

As long as we’re talking about The Office, we might as well throw in some Parks and Recreation talk and the casting of Adam Scottto show up at the end of this season and then become a regular. Faithful PopRox readers will know I’ve been a fan of Scott since he was on Boy Meets World in the 90s, and his career resurgence on Party Down, Tell Me You Love Me and in smaller parts of Step Brothers, Eastbound and Down and The Great Buck Howard has been more than welcome. He’s just a funny guy in a snarky way — that’s the humor I love. So getting him on to a show I religiously watch and am almost getting ready to call  the best comedy on Thursday nights is just plain fun.

maybe it's best to let jack go.

maybe it's best to let jack go.

Maybe this is something we all know should be done, we just don’t want to see it happen. And none of want to be coffin maker for Jack Bauer’s funeral. There isn’t a fan within Jack kill zone that won’t admit 24 is a shell of itself these days. The TV show that once kept us so glued to our seats you could see our butt prints in the couch is pretty close to a big 24 joke right now. You know where and how this show is going. Jack will reluctantly help, when he gets close to finding information his key witness(es) will die, then comes the twist, then comes Jack wrecking shop. It hasn’t been the same since he walked off into the sunset to close out Day 4. So instead of just trudging along and putting out an inferior product, maybe it would be best for everyone involved to just go their separate ways and let the next version of 24, whatever that may be, to enter the fray. We’ll always watch — but that doesn’t mean we should. It’s the Michael Jordan issue. Would you rather have seen his final image as the guy pushing off on Bryon Russell and winning a sixth championship, or would you rather see him chucking up 20 footers for the Wizards, getting beat like a drum on defense every other play. So start preparing yourself for life without Jack. It could be coming pretty soon. Then all we’ll have to look forward to is a movie — but not before Michael Madsen guest stars. Vic Vega and Jack? Together? The two greatest fictional torture experts of this generation? Sign me up.

If it weren’t for the great decision to delay Shutter Island from an October to a February release, I’d be all over Wall Street 2 getting bumped from April to September. But Wall Street 2 has the same kinds of credentials as Shutter Island — bankable opening, famous director, great cast. It also has something Shutter Island didn’t have — a built-in audience waiting 20 years for a sequel. This movie is probably going to open well whenever it gets released, so if you have a good reason — and I guess being accepted at Cannes is a decent excuse — then it’s probably best to wait. Opening it in the summer would be a disaster, this isn’t a summer movie. So September sounds just about right. Don’t be surprised if come June it gets pushed back another couple weeks to get it closer to Oscar consideration. Although the fact that it hasn’t been moved to October or November right from the jump probably means it doesn’t have Oscar potential.

I’ve never bought a Barbie in my life (as far as you know). But let’s just say I’m saving up some money for these new Barbies coming out. Let’s hope Joan is anatomically correct.

This entry was posted in Movies, Pop Culture, TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.