On Same Day ''Coupling'' is Cancelled, NBC Begins Work on ''The Office''
November 2nd, 2003
On Friday morning, it was announced that NBC had shut down further production of it’s critically-lambasted and low-rated “Coupling.” By that afternoon, sources tell FilmJerk.com, production was in full swing for the next intended BBC adaptation for U.S. audiences, “The Office.” According to our sources, a targeted February 2 lensing start for the half-hour pilot is in the cards and casting documents are now out to agents for the series’ lead characters.
NBC’s "The Office - An American Workplace" is based on the hit BBC show "The Office," which has won four BAFTA's (the UK equivalent of the Emmys) and a Silver Rose at the recent Montreux TV Festival, Europe's top television awards. The DVD (season one) became BBC Worldwide's fastest-selling non-film DVD.
Michael Scott: The manager of the office and the boastful unreliable narrator of the documentary, producers say they are looking for “an actor who can play a juicy comic character, someone with an expressive face to get a laugh on a smug look.” Scott is a legend in his own mind, who thinks he is a comic genius, fountain of business wisdom and his employees' cool friend. He believes in his version of reality with the sincere enthusiasm of a nine-year-old child thinking he can do karate. However, the documentary reveals the truth: Scott is a buffoon, a pathetic mid-level bureaucrat overdue for a mid-life crisis, whom decent people pity as a "sad, little man" when his inappropriate behavior hasn't appalled them into silence. Horribly over-confident, he is a trainwreck of bad leadership characteristics, only redeemed a bit by his childish enthusiasm. Despite continual proof that he's an ass, he clings shamelessly to his deluded self-image like a shipwreck survivor clinging to a scrap of wood. Producers further specify that they are looking for an actor “whose face and physique do not command natural respect (i.e., not buff and handsome) and who is boyish, not rugged. Scott is capable of high-spirited, sunny energy as well as small, specific acting.” The character’s age is listed as being between 34-44 years old.
According to one of our sources, “The American show is aiming to capture the humor and poignancy of the original. Like the original, it is a single-camera, mockumentary that portrays in a realistic style some ordinary office workers trapped in a confined space with their immature, inappropriate, bizarre or deluded co-workers and one horribly overconfident supervisor. But there are some changes in the Americanized version, besides it taking place in the States—there is no character named David Brent, for instance, with his Americanized equivalent named the very vanilla-sounding Michael Scott.”
Fans of the British series can sign a breath of relief, though, in that the writer for the pilot is Greg Daniels, whose previous efforts have included “The Simpsons” and “Seinfeld,” as well as is the creator/writer of “King of the Hill.” He is also listed as an executive producer on the project.
According to our sources (which we have verified via casting documents we have since been able to obtain), among the series regulars currently in the process of being cast are:
Dwight Schrute: The late 20’s to 30-ish team leader and Scott's sidekick, Schrute actually admires Scott, although it is unclear if this is due to Scott's personality or Dwight's officious inclination to look up to whoever is above him in the hierarchy. Producers are looking for someone “who can be believable as a geek,” as the character is obsessed with survival, personal security tactics, and other grandiose nerd action fantasies, probably because he picked on a lot as a kid. A volunteer policeman on the weekends, he takes any excuse to go on a power trip in the office. Yet his survival training appears to be more “Gilligan's Island” than Green Berets. Although aggressively horny, he has no idea how to behave with women. His unpleasant social habits and annoying personality suggest an unsocial loner, a sort of Caliban or Gollum. According to the casting notes, “If stuck in an elevator, he would probably start drinking his own urine after ten minutes.” His lack of social skills render him the butt of office jokes and thus bearable. If Scott is redeemed by having the heart of a nine-year-old, then Dwight can perhaps be pitied for his interior teenage geek. Producers are looking for “someone who has no desire to be likeable or please an audience, except through total identification with his character and who can seem reasonable to himself while saying insane things.
Jim Nelson: A 30-ish sales representative who is given the burden of having to share a workspace with Schrute. An ordinary, decent person leading a life of quiet desperation, he likes people, is a good listener and wanted to be a psychologist. His clever sarcasm and takes to the camera are little defense against the vulgarity that surrounds him, although they make Pam the receptionist laugh. As the casting notes describe, “you almost wish he would be more assertive in love and at work.” After playing with Pam, his chief enjoyment in the office is using his superior social and emotional skills to prank Schrute, although you get the sense that when he indulges in his immature impulses he is letting the environment defeat him. Producers are looking for someone likeable here, “who can get laughs by raising an eyebrow or doing a take to the camera. He needs to be pleasant-looking enough for you to root for him to get the girl, without being a hunk in any way. Although hidden by his ordinariness and bad haircut, Jim is the romantic lead.”
Pam Beesley: The receptionist and Nelson's friend, Beesley is decent, reasonable and friendly. With the manner of a nice kindergarten teacher or a future mom, Pam is an ordinary woman with a sense of humor. She allows her loutish boss and fiancé Roy to push her around some, but can exhibit flashes of working class toughness while protecting her friends. Pam is not cynical or a smartass, although her way of disagreeing is a gentle sarcasm. She's not arrogant or glamorous or overtly sexy, but she is cute compared to the other office workers, and she loves to play with Jim, who understands her better than her fiancé. The producers note that Jim and Pam probably would never have met without being thrown together in the office, but they have become true friends, and their flirting is more serious than they acknowledge. The producers say that the actress playing the role needs to come across as “soft and kind and vulnerable. Pretty, too, but definitely not a head-turner--more of a likeable, accessible pretty. A working-world girl-next-door type, who can deliver sarcasm with a light touch, yet a touch of the tragic waif.” The role is listed as bring between the ages of 26 to 29 years old.
According to series star/creator Ricky Gervais, the British show’s current season, its second, will be its last.
Besides Daniels, four other executive producers are listed for the project, among them series creators Gervais and Stephen Merchant. A director for the pilot has yet to be named for the series, which has previously been announced as beginning its U.S. run in fall 2004.
Executive Producers: Ben Silverman, Greg Daniels, Howard Klein, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
Writer: Greg Daniels
Casting Director: Allison Jones (Los Angeles) and Steven O’Neill (New York)
Start Date: February 2, 2004 (Tentative)
Production Company: Reveille LLC and Universal Network Television