'The Office': Get to know your co-workers
I never did get to ask Angela Kinsey (Angela) what hair product she was using to keep her flaxen locks so immune to the humidity, unfortunately, but it was on my mind.
The citizens of Scranton, Pa., and convention attendees have been deliriously anticipating any sightings of the actors, and were largely rewarded all day today.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Oscar Nunez (Oscar), Andy Buckley (David Wallace) and Craig Robinson (Darryl) took part in an improvised Dunder Mifflin stockholders meeting along with local actors.
The event was held at the Mall at Steamtown; the good news for the cast members was that it was better attended than a Debbie Gibson concert. This wasn't so great for attendees, however, as it was nearly impossible to see and hear.
Oh, well: I got to check out Bon-Ton, which is a department store I'd never heard of that carried a great array of the cute hats that are so "in" this season.
Nearby was a wardrobe exhibit at the Electric City Trolley Museum, but time constraints prevented me from attending. I was pretty disappointed because the museum itself seemed pretty cool: Scranton gets its nickname, "The Electric City," because it was the first in the country to introduce a continuously operating electrified streetcar system. (I consoled myself, though, by rationalizing that the costumes would consist of a lot of cardigans, cut-price suits and white shirts with the sleeves rolled up.)
I soon got to put my press pass to good use, though, and sat in on the cast news conference, but not without first hearing Robinson belting Radiohead's "Creep" to one of the bands performing on the University of Scranton campus. Do I need to mention that he was awesome?
Ed Helms (Andy) said that the fan reaction was "absolutely, totally stunning" and that he and the other actors felt like "the Beatles in Scranton." He mentioned a creepy Photoshopped picture of his head edited on a hunky body that one male fan had presented him.
"I've never had so many people ask if they could sign my cast," said Kate Flannery (Meredith). "And to buy me a drink -- I think they were mad I wasn't wasted!"
Later on, Brian Baumgartner (Kevin) told me that when he and Kinsey were in town earlier this year, they had even received marriage proposals. This is where I must mention that Baumgartner's speaking voice sounds nothing like Kevin's conspiratorial growl, and for that matter, Flannery's figure is much tinier than the somewhat dowdy figure they have her assume on the show.
I do have to mention one young reporter who decided to ask Mindy Kaling (Kelly) a relationship question in light of the fact that on the show, she and the other ladies of the office represent Michael Scott's (Steve Carell's) cabal of relationship advisors. This particular gentleman member of the press somehow almost burned his lady love with a flaming Peep: Did he still have a chance? Kaling seemed to think it sounded like a romantic "how we met" story, especially if the fellow had a lot of money.
I'm really happy to say that Creed Bratton (Creed) was just as Creed-ish at the news conference as he is on the show. When asked what he does when he's not filming the series, he answered that he runs a soup kitchen in L.A. that "only serves pea soup," and that he is starring in a short film called "Just One of the Gynos," billed as a "hilarious short film about life, love and gynecology."
The cast gave major props to Scranton: "It's like we've been reading the Oz books and then visited the Emerald City," said producer-writer-director Greg Daniels. "And it's so much more beautiful here than in Van Nuys, where we shoot."
The actors mentioned some of their favorite locales. And now we know, thanks to his affinity for a toy store that sells Lionel trains, that Ed Helms is into model trains, so put that on your Christmas lists for him, you fans.
After their session with us, the actors met their real public. A gymnasium absolutely packed with excited "Office" fans was allowed a Q-and-A with the cast next. Beforehand they viewed a screening of a video for a local song with the lyrics "Please come to Scranton," beseeching the performers with individual verses about their characters.
The cast answered previously submitted questions after being greeted by a standing ovation and more flashbulbs than maybe a World Series batter. Or maybe it was the University of Scranton's mascot (the Royal Wolf) egging on the crowd that got everyone so excited.
The cast really turned on the charm for its fans, with Helms being liberal with the scatting, plenty of "That's what she said" jokes and Robinson kissing Kaling with relish when asked about the future of the couple on the show.
The cast's willingness to give the attendees what they wanted gives the convention credence: Not only can you see your favorite actors, but you can communicate with them as well, and they're into it, to boot. You can't do better than that ... or can you? The convention was still ready to go all night. That's what she said! Oh, come on, give me a break, you know I had to say it once.
-- Claire Zulkey