24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Office

Jenna Fischer looks for some film love

March 7, 2011 |  2:48 pm

As Steve Carell is poised to make a lot more appearances on the silver screen, he could have company from an "Office" co-star.

Jenna Fischer, the receptionist-turned-saleswoman on the NBC sitcom (who, of course, isn't leaving the show), is putting the finishing touches on "The Giant Mechanical Man," an offbeat love story she both produced and stars in.

The film tells of a female zoo worker who falls in love with a street performer (the silver-painted, motionless kind), with each of them resisting pressure from friends and family not to get together. "It's mostly a comedy, but it's a sweet comedy. There aren't any pratfalls," the actress told 24 Frames. Currently in postproduction, the movie -- which also stars Topher Grace -- is seeking a distributor and could well end up at film festivals later this year.

Fischer said the story, which reminds a little of Miranda July's indie hit "Me and You and Everyone We Know," aims for a sort of human plausibility. "It's not a question of will they fall in love, but how do they fall in love," said the actress. In an art-imitating-life turn, Fischer also met husband Lee Kirk on the film. (Kirk wrote and directed.)

After a string of smaller roles in studio comedies, Fischer, who turned 37 Monday, had a more prominent supporting part in the Farrelly brothers' recent "Hall Pass." She says she's hoping to take even more of a leap into film -- as a producer on "Man," she's gotten her hands dirty with nitty-gritty issues such as financing and casting -- while keeping her schedule in mind.

"Television work takes eight months out of the year, so you really only get to pick one film a year. But I'm trying to pick one that really gives me the most artistic expression," she said.

In the case of "Mechanical Man" that meant deviating from some romantic-comedy cliches. "As a producer, I see a lot of these scripts about a woman who falls in love, and she's always a fashion editor or an ad executive or someone at a fun, fast-paced New York creative job that looks like it doesn't exist, and then she falls for a scoundrel who challenges her point of view," Fischer said. "I didn't want to do that."

--Steven Zeitchik




What's Steve Carell's next move? Or should we say moves?

Can the Farrelly brothers make a comeback?

From the archives: Live chat with Jenna Fischer

Photo: Jenna Fischer at the "Hall Pass" premiere in Los Angeles last month. Credit: Paul Buck / European Pressphoto Agency

An 'Office' director blooms into film

June 3, 2010 | 12:41 pm


EXCLUSIVE: It's rare for a seasoned television director to make the leap into feature film. But there's nothing ordinary about the story of "Late Bloomer," the tale of a man who only begins hitting puberty as an adult.

Randall Einhorn, a veteran TV director who has done some heady work on shows such as "The Office," "Modern Family" and "Parks and Recreation," is making just such a leap. Einhorn has been hired by Alcon Entertainment to direct "Late Bloomer," a dramatization of the real-life story and memoir of Hollywood journalist Ken Baker.

Baker's tome, "Man Made," is about a rare condition that caused him not to go through the normal paces of puberty as a teenager; in fact, as his body produced a female hormone, he had many female characteristics, including lactaction. At age 27, he had surgery that finally corrected the problem and brought on the onset of puberty (not to mention numerous female conquests).

Although the book has the hallmarks of a drama (sometimes outlandishly so), the script, from Joe Nussbaum with a rewrite by Paul Kaplan and Mark Torgrove ("Just Shoot Me!," Spin City," a "Marvin the Martian" movie), will play up comedic elements too. Think "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," only here the stunted adolescence is developmental.

Alcon, which produced the 2009 hit "The Blind Side," is committed to making the film, with Warner Bros., per their agreement with the company, scheduled to release the movie next August.

As for Einhorn, he joins the ranks of a rare group. Originally a cinematographer who helped create the look of the American "Office," the 46-year-old segued into directing television shows (he also counts shows as diverse as "Survivor" -- for which he has been nominated for Emmys -- and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" among his credits).

Einhorn is swimming against the current -- television series now frequently hire feature directors, but it's unusual for a director go the other way ("He's Just Not That Into You" director Ken Kwapis is one of the few to do it). But then, it's never too late to bloom. Just ask the protagonist of Einhorn's new film.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Steve Carell and the rest of the cast of "The Office." Credit: NBC

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