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[03/06/12 - 11:53 PM]
Live at the Paley Festival: NBC's "Parks & Recreation"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

6:55 PM - Night five of PaleyFest kicks off a clip from the "Hal and Hillary" episode of "Underclared" in which Hillary (Amy Poehler) gives her much older boyfriend Hal (Loudon Wainwright III) an amusing speech about how to tell his son about them.

7:02 PM - Co-creator Michael Schur takes the stage to introduce tonight's screening of "Lucky," the show's next new episode (set to air this Thursday). He adds we'll also get an extra treat at the end of the panel: the season four gag reel.

7:29 PM - Our moderator for the night - TV Guide Magazine's Michael Schneider - emerges to bring out the panelists: Dean Holland! Dan Goor! Jim O'Heir! Retta! Michael Schur! Chris Pratt! Amy Poehler! The latter two carry with them life-sized cutouts of those missing in action tonight: Adam Scott, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe. We're later told Nick Offerman tried to make it - hence no life-sized cutout - but was filming a movie in Burbank.

7:35 PM - "I think that Ben is the love of Leslie's life," Amy says about her onscreen romance. "All the writers did such a good job of exquisitely torturing us... they kept pulling them apart and pushing them together."

7:38 PM - "The original idea was that Leslie would have a series of relationships with different kinds of dudes over many years," Schur explains about said romance. "When [we] were originally conceiving the show, one of the titles we thought of for the show was 'The Education of Leslie Knope' and the idea was you would follow both her [career] and also her personal life." Adding, "and then we brought [Adam] Scott in and it was just kind of like [after seeing their chemistry], we can't break them up."

7:40 PM - Poehler on one of her favorite things about the show: "I think there's something very romantic about people deciding to be in love with their own small town."

7:41 PM - Schur says the Tom/Ann pairing came about after realizing they have "a lot of soulmate-y relationships" on the show (i.e. Leslie and Ben, Andy and April) so the thought was to make a more comedically-based one. "It's very clear why Tom would be with Ann. It's somewhat less clear why Ann would be with Tom." Ultimately they figured in a small town like Pawnee where there's limited choices, a girl like Ann would at least give it a shot with a sweet guy like Tom.

7:46 PM - Schur reveals the election storyline was originally discussed for season five but after season three was pushed to midseason, they moved up the timeline rather than risk not being able to get to it. He adds that it's made breaking stories easier since there's natural milestones in campaigns. "We shot two endings," he says about this year's election night finale. "Partly to hedge our bets in case we changed our minds and partly to throw some of the snoopers off the scent."

7:51 PM - Schur teases Retta about her real-life "Twilight" addiction, saying she told them right away which sections to read for the "Time Capsule" episode. As for Donna's trademark looks into the camera: "That's not written, I bring that." Schur notes they rarely put in the script such moves, preferring to leave it up to the actors.

7:54 PM - Jim bemoans the fact that he's 64 on the show but just turned 50 in real life. Amy says to get in line: she played Rachel McAdams's mother in "Mean Girls" but is only seven years older than her. The writers' tease Jim they were trying to figure out a way to cut Jim out of his birthday episode. "[I told] Amy, you're going to see some things," Jim says about the episode's bathtub scene. "It's not going to be pretty." "Nothing I haven't seen in my dreams," Amy quips. Jim adds that despite being very hairy, he's been blessed with "a huge penis."

7:56 PM - Schur notes we won't see any of the Tamis again this season. "The rule of thumb has been one episode a year, because they tend to blow up [Ron's] world so much."

7:58 PM - Chris says he's more than thrilled to do his own stunts on the show. Schur adds they've "gotten super lazy" about those kinds of bits for Andy. "In the season finale, [Goor] literally wrote into the script, 'Chris does something physical.'" The end result: Chris decided to jump over the counter wearing rollerblades.

8:01 PM - While the Tamis won't be back this year, Jean-Ralphio just might make another appearance. Ben Schwartz, who's currently on Showtime's "House of Lies," found some time to do a day of filming.

8:04 PM - Schur reveals they specifically designed the first half of the season to reiterate that Leslie would be there for every single one of the characters and - come the Christmas episode - they in turn would all be there for her as volunteers for her campaign.

8:08 PM - Amy wrote and directed episode 20 this season, which will feature her debate against Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd). Schur adds it also features three other candidates: a porn star, an animal lover whose only issue is animal rights and a gun advocate (played by Brad Leland of "Friday Night Lights" fame). Other upcoming guest stars include Mike O'Malley, the owner of a van rental company who Bobby pays to keep Leslie from being able to shuttle in senior citizens to vote.

8:10 PM - Chris on his comedic philosophy: "If they laugh it was funny, if they don't keep doing it until they laugh."

8:13 PM - Amy details an inside joke she has with Adam, Rashida, Kathryn Hahn and Paul Rudd about "Philly Justice," a fake law show from 2003 they all starred in. "It's difficult to explain to you how intricate this bit has gotten," Schur mocks. Not only do they have elaborate backgrounds for their characters, there's plenty of behind the scenes drama. For instance, Paul has been recast with Dylan McDermott, leading Adam to create a fake e-mail account for McDermott in which he reaches out the cast. (You can see the "cast photo" here.)

8:17 PM - The cast is just as mystified by Rob Lowe's handsomeness as we the viewers are. Jim recalls being floored by a shirtless Rob during the Valentine's Day episode. "I said we are not of the same species." Everyone quickly quips that at least Jim has his huge penis.

8:20 PM - Schur says the show's book, "Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America," is canon and the art department relies on it heavily.

8:22 PM - Time for audience Q&A. A real life parks worker says that they've ruined his job for him since everyone pesters him about his job now.

8:25 PM - Schur notes a big challenge with the show is serving its 10 regulars. They're always looking for new combinations, such as an upcoming B-plot in the penultimate episode this season involving Tom, Donna and Ron having to work together.

8:28 PM - Schur confesses to being a die hard "West Wing" fan, hence Bradley Whitford's upcoming guest appearance will feature various nods to it. "The very first scene in the show is a 'West Wing' style walk and talk."

8:32 PM - A discussion about improvised moments leads Schur to affirm his favorite joke in the show was an ad lib by Chris in which he searched for Leslie's symptoms on the computer and goes, "It says you could have network connectivity problems."

8:35 PM - While Chris's wife, Anna Faris, won't turn up this year, he promises that should they get a fifth season she'll definitely guest star.

8:39 PM - That's a wrap on "Parks & Recreation" I'll be back once again tomorrow for the "Sons of Anarchy" panel so stay tuned!

And for more PaleyFest coverage - past and present - visit our Paley Center topic page.





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· PALEY CENTER (TFC)
· PARKS & RECREATION (NBC)











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