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Jenna's Blog

by Jenna Fischer
Read Of Office Emmy Cheers and Acting Careers
Have you heard the good news? We got five Emmy nominations!!! The Office [Thursdays at 8:30 pm/ET on NBC] is nominated for outstanding comedy and for lead actor (Steve Carell); Mike Schur is nominated for writing "Christmas Party"; and our editors Dean Holland and Dave Rogers are nominated for their work on "Booze Cruise" and "Christmas Party," respectively. My head is still spinning. The day the nominations were announced, Brian [Baumgartner, Kevin], Kate [Flannery, Meredith] and I went to lunch with Dean and his wife to celebrate. What an exciting day.

I've received tons of letters from people asking advice about the entertainment industry and, in particular, pursuing a life as an actor. People have also asked me how I got to be on The Office. This blog, I hope, will address some of those questions.

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. I always wanted to be an actor but when you grow up in a place like St. Louis that is sort of like saying, "I want to be a superhero when I grow up." It hardly seems real. The world of "Hollywood" is mysterious. You hear stories of girls being discovered at ball games. Success is about having "it," or being pretty, or some other intangible magic. You have no model for how to succeed. Everyone's story is different. One person does stand-up for 15 years and then gets a TV show, while someone else finances their own movie and it takes off at a festival and suddenly they are the hottest thing. But for each of those people there are thousands of stand-up comics and filmmakers who never got their "break." How do you know what to do?

I thought being an actor meant being famous. But most actors aren't recognizable. It's funny — I watch TV in a whole new way now. Like, I watch a show and I see the person who has three lines on Law & Order and I think, "Their family is gathered around the TV flipping out right now. I bet that was a huge deal for that person!" There are so many actors who make a living by doing support work on shows. I was that person for many years. For me to stay in this business, it had to be OK if I was never recognized. I learned that I loved the craft of acting more than the idea of being famous.

My first piece of advice to someone who is serious about being a professional television or film actor is this: Move to Los Angeles. Moving to Los Angeles can be difficult, but it is the only city that doesn't put a ceiling on where you can go with your career. New York is the place to go if you want to do theater, but if you want to be in film and television, move to L.A.

I had a college professor who said, "If you can think of anything else you are passionate about besides acting, do that. Your life will be better for it." I actually think that might be good advice. I couldn't come up with anything so, after graduation, I moved to L.A.

I fully expected to be working in movies within a year of moving here. That was not my reality, and it is not the reality of most people who move to L.A. to pursue acting. It can take a very, very, very long time to succeed in this business, and my best piece of advice is to not give up. You have to motivate yourself and just keep going. Create projects for yourself. Don't whine. The first year is the hardest, followed by every anniversary up to about Year 5, when you're so beaten down you don't notice the years passing any more. I have a friend who is so incredibly talented it is a crime that after 10 years in L.A. he still has to wait tables to make a living. He gets acting work here and there, but he can't hold down an agent. This business is not fair. It is not like other businesses where if you show up and work above and beyond everyone's expectations, you are pretty much guaranteed to move up the ladder. I don't know why it works out for some and not for others. When you move here, you have no idea which camp you are going to fall into.

It isn't "who you know." It just doesn't work that way. I didn't know anyone when I moved to L.A. Most people don't. I shared an apartment with an old college buddy who had a commercial agent, and I was sure that by knowing him, this agent would take me on. She didn't.

Here is how I got "discovered." I had been living in L.A. for about two years when a friend wrote a TV script and wanted to do a live stage version as a way of attracting TV producers. He asked me to play a small role. It meant lots of rehearsal for very little stage time and no pay. Along the way I questioned why I had agreed to do it, but it was very funny and he was a friend, so I agreed. After our third performance, his manager approached me and asked if I had representation. I said no. She offered to represent me, saying she thought I had a real future in television comedy. Naomi is still my manager today.

A month later, I was doing a very strange play — a musical adaptation of the movie Nosferatu — at a small theater in Los Angeles. I was doing it because I loved the commedia dell'arte style of the show, and because I loved the people involved. I worked all day as a temp doing mind-numbing data entry for a medical company, and then went to rehearsals for five hours a night, often getting home past midnight. One night an agent came to see the play and left his card at the box office asking to meet me. He became my first agent.

Now that sounds easy, right? Well, that was after two years of working as a temp, doing every acting gig I could find for free, borrowing money to buy a new engine for my car, and wearing a pair of shoes with a hole in them because I couldn't afford anything else. Did I mention my living-room curtain was made from a torn bedsheet? It was another three years before I got my first speaking part on a TV show. That show was Spin City. (I played a waitress in a scene where the girl playing Charlie Sheen's crazy date threw bread at me.)

Every year I did a little more than the year before. For my first five years, I probably earned between $100 and $2,000 a year from acting. Year 6 brought me some of my biggest success — and I only made $8,000 from acting. But I put a lot more money into my career than that. Headshots are expensive — the photo session and getting prints can run anywhere from $500 to $800. Classes range from $150 to $500 a month. It costs $1,200 to join SAG once you are eligible. And apartments are crazy expensive — $700 to $1,000 for a crappy apartment that you share with at least one roommate. It's no wonder my living-room curtain was a bedsheet.

So, how did I get The Office? Spin City was cast by Allison Jones, who now casts The Office. She became a fan of mine through a series of auditions. I kept going into her office year after year, auditioning for different things. I got some and not others, but she kept bringing me back. I developed a relationship with her — not because I met her at a party and we "schmoozed," but because I had proven to her over the course of many years that I was a reliable and serious actor capable of providing a consistent body of work. That is what this business is all about, from a real working actor's perspective. When it was time to cast The Office, Allison remembered me, called me to audition, and I finally got the part.

Most actors think their first priority after moving to L.A. is to get an agent. I disagree. I think the first priority should be to build a body of work — become a pro so that you are valuable to an agent. No agent wants to sign a nonunion newbie. It's not their job to get you ready. Join NowCasting.com or LACasting.com and submit yourself for nonunion work. These websites require you to pay a monthly fee for their service. I would normally warn you about places that charge you a fee, but NowCasting and LACasting are legit. You post your photo and résumé, and they post casting notices for student films, short films, nonunion work and some commercials. You are able to submit yourself for work and hope you get a request to audition. I have friends who work all the time doing this. It is a great way to get commercial work. I think LACasting.com submits their nonunion members to commercial agents as part of their service. (You need to live in L.A. to participate.)

Another bit of advice: work as an extra. If you are new in town, this is a very good way to learn how a movie or television set operates. I did this my first year, and I'm glad I did. No one gets treated worse than an extra (or as they are called now, background artists), but since I went through it myself I know how to be gracious now that I'm more successful. It's a great boot camp. The top extras-casting agency is Central Casting. If you work enough, you can earn your SAG card. That's how I did it.

You need your SAG card to be taken seriously by an agent. You cannot work on a TV show or a studio movie without belonging to the Screen Actors Guild. You can do some extra work if you are not in the union, but you cannot have a speaking role in a major production. There are nonunion productions that hire nonunion actors (e.g., student films, low-budget features), and that is another great way to get practice in front of a camera.

When you are ready to get an agent you should know a few things. Legitimate agents only take 10 percent and they should never charge you a monthly fee or startup fee. Nor should they force you to use a certain photographer to take your headshots. If they do, they are probably just signing you up so that you'll hire the photographer and then the agent gets a kickback. Agents should only make money if you make money. Now, an agent may ask you to sign a contract — this is normal. A standard contract is for one to two years. I would not sign a contract for more than three years. And read the contract. A friend of mine met with an agent who tried to write a clause into the contract that made it so that, at the agent's discretion, the contract never ended. If you are unsure, contact SAG and ask them for a standard agent/client agreement. Also ask if the agent you are thinking of going with is SAG-certified.

If you are good at comedy, take classes from the Groundlings or I.O. (formerly known as Improv Olympic); Second City in Chicago is also great. These are the most-recognized improv-comedy places. It's a great place to meet people when you are new to town. Classes are expensive, so that can be hard when you are just starting out. I didn't do this, but I wish I had. Almost every actor on The Office has studied with one of these three places.

There is a book you can get at the L.A. bookstore Samuel French called The Working Actor's Guide to Los Angeles. It is a spiral-bound book that is updated every year and lists all the extras-casting agencies, casting directors, agents, photographers, etc. This is a great resource for the new actor. I also suggest reading Backstage West, which has casting notices and articles for actors.

Finally, there is an amazing book you can get called The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Guide to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron. I highly recommend it. It is a 12-week, self-led creativity seminar in the form of a book. It's brilliant, and you don't have to move to L.A. to do it. In fact, it would be a good thing to do if you are thinking of moving to L.A., as it might give you the answers you need. It was through doing The Artist's Way that I was inspired to make my movie LolliLove. I completely credit this book with giving me the tools and courage I needed to complete that project — a project that took over four years to finish. And I credit LolliLove with giving me the confidence and practice with the mockumentary style that lead me to land my job on The Office.

Yes, you will meet some scumbags if you move to L.A. — people who prey on newcomers. I can tell you with absolute certainty that those people have no power in the grand scheme of things.

For example, it was my first year in town and I was part of a theater group. At a party for a new play opening, the playwright came up to me and asked me if I was an actress. I said yes. He asked if I was interested in doing a part in his new movie. I was kind of floored. How did he know I was any good? I said, "What is it about?" And he said, "Well, you'd have to do a raunchy sex scene with nudity. Would that bother you?" I laughed and said, "I wouldn't do anything I wouldn't be proud to show my parents." He then said, "That was a test. You aren't a real actress. A real actress would never say that. A real actress would piss herself on stage if the part called for it. You aren't going to make it in this town. You should go home." And then he walked away. I went back to my apartment and cried. Why was that guy such a d---? I have no idea. Stuff like that will happen to you if you decide to become an actor. You have to develop a thick skin — without becoming jaded, guarded or cynical. That's a tall order.

I have a great acting coach who says that success in Hollywood is based on one thing: opportunity meets readiness. You cannot always control the opportunities, but you can control the readiness. So study your craft, take it seriously. Do every play, every showcase, every short film, every student film you can get. Swallow your pride. Be willing to work for nothing in things you think are stupid. Make work for yourself. Make your own luck. Don't complain. Hopefully, the work will find you if you are ready.

I know how hard it can be when you first get out here. Go out and meet as many people as you can. Create a family for yourself, one made up of creative, supportive people. And don't stop your personal life for your career. I know a lot of people who wait to do things — visit family or friends, have relationships, get married — because they are waiting until they "make it." Or, they don't go to a friend's wedding because they might "miss something." Life is too short, and it's not worth it in the end. I always took off and did that stuff, and it turned out fine. I was often anxious and worried in the process, but I did it. I believe that in order for my professional life to move forward, I have to keep my personal life moving forward as well.

I wouldn't be where I am today if not for my husband James [Gunn]. He is the one who convinced me to quit my job as a secretary (ironically) and focus full-time on acting. I didn't totally believe I could make it, but he did. He supported us financially and supported me emotionally. He ran lines with me and coached me before countless auditions. He put up with my highs and lows. He was, and still is, my biggest cheerleader. And you need that out here.

It will be hard to explain your first milestones to friends and family back home. They are waiting to see you on TV or on the big screen. It is hard to explain how a second callback for a job you didn't land was the highlight of your month and a very valid reason to celebrate. I remember one year my proudest moment was at an audition for the role of a really slutty barmaid on a new TV show. It was written for a Pam Anderson type. I thought, "I can never pull this off. I just don't have the sex appeal. I feel stupid. No one is going to take me seriously." But I committed to the role and gave the best audition I could. I didn't get the job — I didn't get a callback — but I conquered my rambling, fear-driven brain and went balls-out on the audition anyway. That was a huge milestone for me, but hard to explain at Christmas. A year later, I booked the role of a trashy prostitute in a little indie movie called Employee of the Month. In the past I would have turned down the audition thinking that I would embarrass myself. But after that earlier breakthrough, I felt confident. The success is not always in getting the part but in the seed that is planted.

This spring marked my 10-year anniversary in Los Angeles. I'm hardly an overnight success. Likewise, Rainn Wilson toured the country doing theater and was one of those working but unrecognized actors for over 10 years. Steve Carell has been kicking around for close to 20 years. Most of us on The Office have a story like that. The restaurant where we ate lunch after the Emmy nominations was a place where Kate waited tables for six and a half years as a struggling actress. I think that is one of the reasons why we are all so very, very grateful to have landed such a wonderful job. Slow and steady wins the race.

So I hope I answered your questions about the biz. Good luck! And I hope you continue to have a great summer. We start shooting Season 3 of The Office on July 18. The show will premiere in September, and that is also when you can expect the release of the Season 2 DVD. I'm sorry I don't know the exact dates.

In the meantime, check out NBC.com for The Office webisodes, mini-episodes starting today, July 13. You won't see any Pam and Jim; we are a little preoccupied dealing with you-know-what. The webisodes star the accounting department, and Brian Baumgartner, who plays Kevin, has started his own TVGuide.com blog to give you the inside scoop. Enjoy!
Read Supersize Office Finale, Supersize Blog!
Tonight is the supersize season finale of NBC's The Office! Be sure to start watching early. The show starts at 9:20 pm ET, and you don't want to miss a single minute.

In tonight's episode, "Casino Night," the employees of Dunder-Mifflin transform the warehouse into a casino and everyone gambles for charity. The episode was written by our very own Steve Carell and directed by Office favorite Ken Kwapis.

Yes, there will be plenty of romance tonight. But it might not be what you expect. Michael ends up with two dates to the party. One of his dates is played by his real-life wife, Nancy Walls (The 40 Year Old Virgin). You might remember her as the real-estate agent who recently ran into Michael at his ice-skating party. Well, she's back. And so is Jan.

In other news, Pam gets a new look — sort of. You see her in a party dress, and she does a little something extra with her hair. Like in the Valentine's Day episode, when Pam wore a headband, I had to test several different hairdos for the finale. It was girlie fun to stay after work and have the hair designer, Kim, put my hair in pretty curls and various updos. In the end we decided that we had to choose a hairstyle that Pam could've done at home with a curling iron and some bobby pins.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg! Lots will happen tonight. Kevin has a secret revealed, Creed tries to hide one, Phyllis surprises everyone, Angela slaps Dwight, and Jim makes a decision about Stamford.

And yes, there is a special Jim-Pam moment. The two characters square off during the poker tournament — but that's all I can say.

It has been an emotional few days for me with the finale approaching. This is a huge milestone for us. No one really thought we would make it this far. I have a Polaroid photo from our very first day of work, on the pilot episode. It was funny because Steve Carell said, "One day this photo will be worth money. Especially after they fire me and replace me with a new actor for Episode 2. You'll all look at this photo and say, 'Awww, remember Steve What's-His-Name? He was sweet. I wonder what he's up to now.'" We all laughed. But we secretly wondered if any of us would make it to Episode 2. Here we are tonight — Episode 28. And we're all coming back for more!

On the one hand, I'm relieved to have the finale airing. I've been carrying around the secret cliff-hangers for two months now! But in another way, I am sad. I've had insider scoop for a long time. Now I'm like everyone else — I don't know what's going to happen next!

Like Rachel from Darien, Wisc., you might be wondering if I will continue this blog after the season is over. I'm sad to say that this is my last blog for a while. It has been a tough assignment keeping up with the blog every week. (Just ask my editors, who keep getting my blogs at 3 am on Thursday mornings instead of noon on Wednesdays like we planned.) I would like to reserve the right to come back and post again from time to time. But for now, this is it. I'm taking the summer off.

Before I go, I thought it would only be fair to answer some more viewer questions. Here we go:

Joe from Wichita, Kan.: "In the latest episode, 'Drug Testing,' did Steve Carell hurt his ring finger? I thought I saw a bandage on it."
Good eye. Steve hurt his finger (I can't remember how) and it swelled up so badly that he couldn't remove his wedding ring. Of course, we didn't expect him to cut off his wedding ring for the show so they put a bandage around it. His finger is fine now.

Jane from Cranford, N.J.: "I'm a die-hard Office fan and don't think I've ever missed an episode, so I'm puzzled about something and hope you can clear it up for me. Why does Michael hate Toby?"
There is no particular reason. By that I mean, there wasn't a certain incident that started the feud. Basically, Michael is jealous of Toby. Toby is respected and well liked by the people in the office. He is even funny sometimes. People confide in him. These are all the things Michael wants, so he hates Toby. It all started in the second episode of the first season, "Diversity Day." Michael calls everyone into the conference room for a meeting. On the way in, Toby makes a joke and everyone laughs. Michael throws him out. He pretends like it is because he is offended that Toby is making a joke during a serious office meeting, but the real reason is because it got a laugh. Plus, Toby reports directly to the corporate office. Michael doesn't really have any power over him. And in some ways Toby has power over Michael because he can report Michael's crazy antics to corporate. This makes Michael feel insecure and powerless around Toby. And Michael hates that. Or, in other words, he hates Toby.

Jim from St. Louis, Mo.: "As your totally unbiased father, I have to say [the 'Drug Testing' blog] was your best yet. I can't wait for the finale. My guess is that you dump Jim, hook up with Dwight and Angela kills you."
OK, so that's not really a question. But, my dad wrote in and I thought it was really sweet, so I added it.

I have to say, I find it very interesting that my husband (horror director James Gunn) said that in his version of the finale, Jim cuts off Pam's head. On, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, John Krasinski said Pam bursts into flames. And now my dad says that Angela kills Pam. Why is everyone trying to kill Pam!?

Joshua from Huntington, W. Va.: "In your last blog entry you said that your Dundie was your favorite Office keepsake. What other props have you gotten to keep?"
I got to keep a pad of paper with the Dunder-Mifflin letterhead and a Michael Scott business card. The card is in my scrapbook.

Will from Decatur, Ga.: "I have two questions: First, was Ryan's reaction to the negotiation of the Dwight-Angela cookie question (in 'Michael's Birthday') your 'fall-off-your-couch' moment? It was mine. Hilarious! I also wondered if the skating kids in that same episode were Steve Carell and Nancy Wall's kids in real life."
OK, first question: not originally. The Ryan moment was not in the early version of the episode that I saw. The moment that originally made me fall off my couch (and subsequently get scratched by my cat) was when Kelly described her sister's funeral as the second saddest funeral she'd ever seen, after the funeral of Lady Di. But the Ryan moment made me fall off my couch, too. Luckily, my cat was not on my lap that time. As for the skating kids, they were actors.

Bill from Bothell, Wash.: "How long does it take you to memorize your lines for any given episode?"
I know the character of Pam so well and she is so well written that the memorization comes very naturally. It isn't so much a matter of memorizing the words, it's more about discovering the truth and emotion of the moments.

Every night before bed, I read the entire script for that week. (It takes us one week to shoot an episode.) I read the script to remind myself of the overall story and of Pam's journey in particular. Then I focus on the scenes we are shooting the next day. I read them several times over again — sometimes I read aloud. If there is an important scene, either emotionally or comedically, I will ask my husband to read it with me and give me pointers. I make notes in the script. At work, I keep the script at my desk and I glace at the scenes once or twice before we start rolling.

I spend more time rehearsing the interview segments because those are harder. Angela and I often run our interview segments for one another. We check to be sure we have the lines correct.

Ann from Thousand Oaks, Calif.: "I was wondering if it is hard to do the scenes where it's just you talking to the camera. It seems like it would be harder to do that than to do a scene where you are talking to a real person."
Yes, I find them harder for that exact reason. Usually the director will prompt us with a question so that it seems more like a real back-and-forth type of interview situation. That helps. And sometimes he or she will ask us a few fake questions and we will improvise to warm up. We just keep chatting until they prompt us into the scripted part. And sometimes they end up using our improvisations.

Katie from Springville, Utah: "So I was wondering... what's your favorite Pam line of all time? I can't pick!"
"Please don't throw garbage at me" from "Basketball," Season 1.

Jackson from Des Moines, Iowa: "What is the craziest thing that you've done in a background scene of The Office, and did it make on the air?"
This is an awesome question. Unfortunately I don't have an awesome answer. During the Christmas episode I ordered online a lot of Christmas presents, right from my desk, but you can't tell. One time I was cold and put on my sweatpants instead of my skirt and sat behind the desk. No one noticed. During a scene where they filmed me working on my wedding-invitation list, I wrote the names of my real family members. Oh, and sometimes I eat crackers. See, not very exciting.

Merideth from Sterling, Va.: "Why is Pam always sitting with Michael in his office? It doesn't look like she is taking any notes. Is it because corporate has required Michael not to be alone with any of the employees?"
I think it is because he likes to feel important, like he has an assistant. But he doesn't really have anything for her to do. If you notice, he does it to Ryan, too.

Greg from Long Beach, Calif.: "Can you tell us any info about The Office Season 2 DVD release? Have you recorded any commentary? Please put lots of extra scenes and bloopers in there.... I'll need it to carry me through the summer until Season 3 starts!"
I don't have any information on our Season 2 DVD release. We haven't recorded any commentary but I know we are all willing to do it again this year. It was a lot of fun last time.

To help you over the summer hiatus, NBC.com will be posting several Office webisodes. The mini-episodes are all new and revolve around the accounting department and their search for missing money. I'm not sure when they will become available, but I know it is sometime over the summer. I hope that helps!

Rochelle from Radcliffe, Iowa: "Hey Jenna, I saw you on Ellen last week. Do you really have a MySpace page? If so what's your address?"
Yes, I really do. It is www.myspace.com/pambeesley. I also write blogs on MySpace, and I post behind-the-scenes photos from the show. I'm not the only office member with a MySpace page: other Office characters have pages, too. They are Angela, Meredith, Kevin, Toby, Ryan, Roy and Darryl.

Jim, Dwight and Michael do not have MySpace pages. There are fans who started pages for them, but they are not associated with the actors from the show. The only actors with real MySpace pages are the people in my "Top 8," plus Roy and Darryl.

We created our MySpace pages as a way to keep occupied during our many long hours doing background work on the show. Our computers really work so we thought it would be fun to blog about the show from our desks. Also, we credit our fans for keeping us on the air. We have heard so many cool stories about people planning dinner parties with friends as a way to force them to watch The Office and increase our fan base. We love our show as much as the fans do, and we wanted to geek out together!

If you write to me on MySpace you should know a few things:

1. I keep the page myself. It is not run by NBC or a producer or anyone. It's just little old me so it takes a long time to go through things. Sometimes I'll ask my assistant to help with Friend Requests. But so far, I read all the mail myself.
2. I cannot write you or your friends a personal e-mail, so don't send me your personal e-mail addresses. If I sent out e-mails, then my e-mail address would get around and I have to keep that private.
3. Sometimes (very rarely) I write people back through MySpace, but most of the time I can't, so please don't take it personally.
4. I cannot send you money.
5. I cannot accept interview requests for television and radio stations via MySpace. They have to be coordinated by the NBC publicity department. Please contact them directly.
6. We aren't filming right now. We are on a summer break and we go back to work at the end of July. It is easy to keep up our pages when we spend 10 hours a day at our "desks" but hard to keep up with them over the summer. We may miss a lot of your messages until then.

Finally, if you have a question, check my blogs. I answer a lot of questions in my blogs, and chances are the information you are looking for is in there. For example, I wrote a blog about where to send autograph requests.

My most frequently asked MySpace questions: No, John Krasinski does not have a MySpace page. Yes, he is cute, sweet and funny in real life. No, I cannot set him up with you or your friend.

Finally, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your nice letters and for your support of our show. I really, really, mean it. I have enjoyed this as much as you have. So, thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity not only to be a working actor but to work on something that makes me so excited I don't care that my day starts at 5 am. (And my family knows that me waking up before 10 am is a miracle.) I hope we can keep making this show for a long, long time. See you in the fall!

Do you have any questions or feedback for me? Send it here.

Don't miss the new TVGuide.com Insider Q&A with John Krasinski (Jim).

Click here to see what Dunder-Mifflin's own Dwight Schrute is thinking.
Read Michael Scott, Office Peacemaker?!
Michael is out to solve the world’s problems in another new episode of The Office, airing tonight [at 9:30 pm/ET on NBC]. He discovers that his nemesis Toby, the human-resources rep, collects employee complaints in a file and then does nothing but hope the conflict will resolve itself – which, in most cases, it does. Unhappy with this tactic, Michael opens the file and begins a public airing of the complaints. “Conflict Resolution,” written by our resident genius, Greg Daniels, really shakes things up at Dunder-Mifflin.

It’s no surprise that the office ninny, Angela, is involved with every complaint in some way or another. Oscar hates Angela’s baby poster. Angela hates everything about Phyllis. Pam is called out for planning her wedding on company time. The only person Angela doesn’t complain about is... Dwight. But that’s OK because everyone else does.

I haven’t seen this episode yet so I’m excited to see how it turned out. The scene I most remember shooting is the pne where Angela and Oscar are fighting about her baby poster.

As a cast, the baby poster is one of our favorite props. It is a very creepy poster of two babies playing jazz. In case you don’t remember, Angela got the poster from her Secret Santa in the Christmas episode. Rainn Wilson could not hold it together when we shot the gifting scene in that episode. Every time Angela unwrapped the poster, he would die laughing — he was in tears. He just kept saying, “It’s so wrong! It’s so wrong!” It was infectious. As soon as Angela would start to unwrap the gift we would all laugh — partly because of how funny the poster was and partly because of how fun it was to see Rainn fall apart.

If you hadn’t noticed, Angela has had the poster hanging by her desk ever since that episode. And, as we will find out tonight, Oscar hates it! I had to stand in between Angela and Oscar as they bicker about the poster while Michael tries to mediate the situation. The whole time, the cute jazz babies are staring at me from the poster. It was hilarious!

I’ve gotten a lot of messages from people who saw me with my cat Andy in People last week. Boy has it gone to his head! Andy keeps teasing me because his name was in a bigger font than mine. And, he likes to point out that he was the only cat in the magazine, which he’s decided makes him The World's Most Beautiful Cat.

It was pretty cool seeing the photo of me and Andy in People. He’s the scrappy little stray kitty that I rescued 14 years ago, who lived with me all through college, rode with me cross-country for 30 hours from Missouri to California. He stuck by me and lived in my crappy, sunless apartments while I struggled to find work as an actress, and he even accepted my husband, James [Gunn], into the family when we married. And after everything we've been through together, there we were in People magazine. Like I said, it was pretty darn cool.

If you are thinking of getting a pet, I have to encourage you to rescue an animal rather than buy one. There are so many sweet animals without homes. There is a great website called PetFinder.com. You can look at photos and descriptions of pets that are available through rescue groups in your area. My husband and I also have a 3-year-old rescue dog named Wesley. He’s a total nut and we love him. He and Andy are best friends.

Finally, for everyone who loves stuff about Jim and Pam, tonight’s episode sets up the finale. We find out that Jim has a secret and it’s not what might you think. I’ve read a lot of rumors about how the show will end this season, and all I’ll say is that no one has gotten it right yet.

I’ve never been so good at keeping a secret in my life. The only person who knows how the season ends is my husband. I haven’t told my sister, my parents, my best friends or anyone. Before we go out with family and friends, I remind my husband not to talk about the finale. Since my husband is a horror-film director, he keeps telling the press that the season ends with Jim cutting off Pam’s head. I can assure you that’s not true. The ending is so good and I have so many great stories about it that it’s been really difficult to keep my mouth shut. Luckily, I only have to keep the secret for one more week.

Do you have any questions or feedback for me? Send it here.

And click here to see what Dunder-Mifflin's own Dwight Schrute is thinking.
Read The Office Undergoes "Drug Testing"
Finally! We have a new episode of The Office [Thursdays at 9:30 pm/ET on NBC]! Airing tonight is "Drug Testing," written by Jennifer Celotta (the writer of one of my Pam-favorite episodes, "E-mail Surveillance"). Dwight finds a joint in the Dunder-Mifflin parking lot and launches an investigation to find out who is using drugs on company property. He's unbearable and goes so far as to wear his volunteer-sheriff's uniform to work. Jim and Pam play a game where Jim is not allowed to talk for the entire day until he buys Pam a Coke. As you know from the 27 seconds of silence on "Booze Cruise," Pam and Jim can say a lot to one another without any words at all.

Sometimes an actor's real-life talents or interests inspire part of an episode. The ice-skating in "Michael's Birthday" was inspired by the fact that Steve Carell is a great skater in real life. In "Boys and Girls," Pam's monologue about reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book was based on a real story of mine as a kid. In this week's episode, Jim is good at doing impressions, and that is totally based on John Krasinski's real talent for doing impressions on set. He entertains the cast and crew with his impressions all the time. In "Drug Testing," Jim gets caught doing an impression of Stanley!

The guest cast on this episode is outstanding. Marilyn Brett, who plays the Urine Tester, and Hugh Dane as the Security Guard, seem so real. Kudos to our casting director Allison Jones. She finds the best people.

In other news, this week I am typing my blog from the set of my movie Blades of Glory. What's the biggest difference between doing television and doing movies? The perks. Movie stars get spoiled silly! My trailer on this movie is bigger than my first apartment. It has a full kitchen with two refrigerators, satellite TV, a bedroom, a living room with dining area, and a shower! What am I supposed to do with two refrigerators? I don't have two refrigerators at home. So far all I've used them for is to cool a six-pack of diet Coke. When I come to work on the movie, I pull right up to my trailer and someone parks my car for me.

By comparison, we are very low-key on The Office. I park my own car, for example. My trailer is one small room with a broken bathroom door and an old mini-fridge. My TV only gets a few local stations — if the weather is good. Angela Kinsey, who plays Angela on the show, came to visit me on the set last week and we were laughing at the differences between a movie and our show. I told her, "I'm going to enjoy the royal treatment while I can." She said, "Enjoy, but don't come back a diva or you'll have to answer to me."

Guess what!? I'm going to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show! I'm taping the show tonight [Wednesday] and it will air on Friday. The other guest is Michael Douglas. I'm hoping I get to meet him, since he is, in my humble opinion, a Hollywood legend. Fun Fact: Ellen adopted a cat from the cat-rescue organization Kitten Rescue, which I used to work for. I'm hoping we can gab about our pets as I know she is a huge animal lover, like me.

If you would like to see a picture of my beloved 14-year old cat, Andy, you can check us out in this week's People! We are in the section called "Beauties and Their Beasts". Andy said he was offended that People would call me a beast but is happy to finally be recognized for the beauty he is. It wasn't easy to take this photo since Andy was a feral kitten and is only just settling down after 14 years of domestication. When People called and asked if they could come to my house and take a photo of us for the magazine, I said, "Wow, that's like asking me if I could go grab a squirrel out of a tree and take a photo. We can try!" So thanks, Andy, for being such a good sport.

Finally, a big thanks to everyone who voted for the supersized Office finale. You did it! NBC has agreed to make the finale 10 minutes longer than a normal episode. I'm not allowed to talk about what happens, but I promise you won't be disappointed. Enjoy the new episodes. They are leading up to a great season finale!

Do you have any questions or feedback for me? Send it here.

Click here to see what Dunder-Mifflin's own Dwight Schrute is thinking.
Read Inside The Office's "Fight" Club
We are airing another rerun this week [Thursday at 9:30 pm/ET on NBC].... This time it's "The Fight." I know what you are probably thinking: "I want a new episode of The Office! Why should I watch a rerun?"

In this episode Dwight earns a purple belt in karate and wears it to work. This sparks an argument between Dwight and Michael about who is tougher, which escalates until they agree to meet at Dwight's karate studio at lunch to duke it out. You should watch this rerun because it is so packed with laughs it will leave your head spinning. Don't believe me? Our director of photography, Randall Einhorn, used to work on Survivor so nothing surprises him — he's a total pro. He never laughs while shooting. He can't, the show is shot entirely on handheld cameras, so if he laughs, it's over. But during the scene at the karate studio where Michael and Dwight are fighting, Randall was laughing so hard he had tears streaming down his face. He had to take the camera off his shoulder and hold it away from his body so it wouldn't shake during the scene.

And if that's not enough to convince you to watch a rerun, I'm about to tell you a bunch of often-missed jokes and insider trivia to make it even more fun. And I'll even throw in some answers to your frequently asked questions along the way. You can keep this with you while you watch the episode... like a cheat sheet!

1. Rose from Warrington, Penn., wrote, "You've played a lot of jokes on Dwight. Which one is your favorite?" It might be the one at the start of this episode when we put Dwight's desk in the bathroom. Look for Kevin in the background at the end, when he leaves one of the stalls. He has a lit candle and a newspaper. For all of you Office geeks, it was this moment that lead to Kevin's line in the "Office Olympics" episode about the bathroom candle smelling like cookies. It really did smell like cookies.

2. Pat in Fox Lake, Ill., asks, "What is it that B.J. Novak holds up in the opening credits? It looks like a plastic bag or something." That shot is from the Season 1 episode called "Basketball." B.J. is holding up a bag of gym clothes to show Michael he is ready to play basketball at lunch.

3. Does Dwight's sensei Ira look familiar? He's Lance Krall, the guy who played Kip on The Joe Schmo Show. Clayton from Minneapolis, Minn., wrote in to ask, "Since your show is somewhat of a 'mock reality show,' do you have any other favorite mock reality shows?" Yes, I do, Clayton: The Joe Schmo Show. It's the greatest. I was very excited to work with Lance. I spent an entire lunch grilling him about The Joe Schmo Show.

4. Jane from Los Angeles wants to know: "It looks like you guys have a lot of fun on the set, but I'm curious, was there a scene where the cast just couldn't go on without breaking?" Well, I'm very bad about laughing during scenes; I ruin a lot of takes with Steve Carell because I end up laughing in the middle. Before this episode, I made it a personal goal to make it through one show without breaking. My first scene after that with Steve was the scene where he tells Ryan to start an emergency-contact list. Meanwhile, I confront him about signing some overdue forms. I was so concentrated on not laughing at Steve that when B.J. Novak looked at me and said the line "updating emergency contacts," I lost it. We had to do the scene about 20 times because every time B.J. looked at me I started to laugh. The only way I got through the scene was by not looking him in the eye. It was a mess. A fun mess, but a mess.

5. The way Kevin says "Stacy" when asked about his emergency contact is an often-mimicked line among the cast. We really like the way Brian Baumgartner said this line. It's one word but it goes through about four octaves.

6. I love the way John Krasinski's fingers move when he reveals that he stole Dwight's purple belt. For some reason it reminds me of when Mr. Burns from The Simpsons says "Excellent."

7. Some often-missed jokes: Did you catch the name of Michael's "gang"? The Damn Rascals. Did you catch that Michael and Dwight spent a New Year's Eve together watching Armageddon? How about the fact that Dwight's grandfather was a Nazi? Listen to his interview: His grandfather was a World War II vet (normal); he killed 20 men (OK); and then spent the rest of the war in an Allied prison camp (Nazi).

8. One of my favorite scenes from our entire second season is the scene when Michael and Dwight face off in the kitchen. John and I almost started laughing about a million times. I like the constant misuse of common phrases: catch-22; "Two hits: me punching you and you hitting the floor"; and my personal favorite: tit for tit.

9. When we all pile into the elevator, be sure to check out Kevin's face as the elevator doors close.

10. It was really hot the day we shot the scene at the karate studio, and the air-conditioning in our trailers wasn't working. Trailers are metal, so it was like changing your clothes in a sauna. I was supersweaty, but I had to wear a sweater because we had established it earlier inside the office. I felt bad that John Krasinski had to get so close to me and lift me up. I'm sure I smelled. He says I didn't, but I think he was just being nice.

11. Randall lost it when Michael pinned down Dwight in the fight and started to spit on him. If you notice, in the extra fight scene after the show is over, Lance Krall was laughing in the background.

12. As a former secretary, I really relate to the dynamic between Pam and Michael in this episode. During one of my early secretarial jobs, I had a boss take so long to do his end-of-the-month report that I had to drive to the airport to send it FedEx because the airport has the latest drop time.

Whew! I hope you enjoy rewatching "The Fight." Next week we'll have an all-new episode!

Oh, and many of you have written asking me if you can get a Dwight bobblehead. Well, now you can. They are available in the NBC online store for $15.

Click here to see what Dunder-Mifflin's own Dwight Schrute is thinking.
Read Return of the "The Dundies"
Tonight's episode of The Office [9:30 pm/ET on NBC] is a rerun of one of my favorites of the season — "The Dundies." I get a lot of letters about the Dundies. It's a big episode for Pam.

In this episode, Michael hosts the annual Dunder-Mifflin Awards, affectionately referred to as "the Dundies." Michael makes up awards for each person in the office and then stages a huge presentation at a local Chili's. He serves as the master of ceremonies, which is really an opportunity for him to tell bad jokes and sing songs. Dwight is his DJ and sound-effects specialist. After Pam gets in a huge fight with Roy just before the awards begin, she joins Jim inside and gets drunk.

I got to do a lot of physical comedy in this episode. I fall down. I give a drunken speech. I hoot and holler. It was a great script for me as an actor.

A lot of people have asked me if I was really drunk while shooting. The answer is no, I was not really drunk. I did get drunk one night for research though.

In real life I rarely drink. In fact, the last time I had gotten drunk was back in college, and even then I wasn't a big drinker. I just never really thought it was much fun. When I got the script for this episode, I was very nervous. I couldn't remember what it was like to be drunk and I didn't want to do a caricature of a drunk person. B.J. Novak [Ryan, and a writer on the show] suggested I go out and get drunk one night for research. I laughed him off at first, but then decided it was a pretty good idea. I took B.J. with me and made sure I didn't have to drive.

It only took four drinks. After each drink, B.J. would check in with me, asking, "How do you feel now? What's different?" He made me describe, in detail, the various levels of drunkenness. It was interesting because after the first two drinks I said, "I feel really buzzed and dizzy." I was laughing a lot. By drink No. 4, I said, "I don't really feel drunk at all. I feel normal now." B.J. said, "Really? Because you are talking really loud and close and you just almost fell over." I stopped at drink four. I thought it was really interesting and scary how, after so many drinks, I doubted that I was drunk. No wonder people do so many stupid things when they drink!

I totally drew on my experience of that night when we shot this episode. I realized that when you are drunk, you laugh at stupid things, talk closer to people, get touchy and basically act like a more obnoxious and unbalanced version of yourself. You lose control a little. So, that's what I did with Pam.

I was originally supposed to vomit in this episode. Thankfully, I didn't "research" that part. Jim and I are doing an interview for the camera and in the middle I was supposed to turn and puke all over the bar. I guess the corporate lawyers at Chili's didn't like this idea so they changed it to having me fall off a stool instead. [B.J. Ryan's TVGuide.com blog details Chili's objection to the scene.] My executive producer, Greg Daniels, directed this episode and he had a very specific way he wanted Pam to fall off the stool. So he demonstrated it. It was hilarious! John Krasinski and I pretended we didn't understand how he wanted it to be done so that Greg would keep falling off the stool over and over again. We were laughing really hard.

This episode was the first one we ever shot outside of our office set. I remember it was the week after Steve Carell's movie, The 40 Year Old Virgin, hit theaters. Access Hollywood came to interview him, and it was really cool.

Because of our location, we had to have very tiny trailers about the size of a small bathroom. (Our usual trailers are the size of your average bedroom.) Also, for some reason they were infested with ants. Steve was so humble and accommodating. I remember thinking, "Wow, now that's class. Here he is, the No. 1 movie star in America, getting interviewed by Access Hollywood, and he changed his clothes in a trailer the size of a closet that was infested with ants and he didn't complain once." Whenever I get the urge to complain about something trivial on a set, I think of that.

The other really cool thing about this episode is that the cast members got to keep their Dundies! I have mine on the shelf in my living room. It's one of my favorite keepsakes from the show.

I hope you enjoy the episode.

Click here to see what Dunder-Mifflin's own Dwight Schrute is thinking.
Read The Office: Your Questions Answered!
There is no episode of The Office airing this week. NBC is putting an episode of Teachers in our place tonight. I shared a changing room with three of the actresses from Teachers at a press event earlier this year. They were sweethearts, so I do hope their show does well.

With no Office episode airing tonight, I thought this might be a good week for some more frequently asked questions. These are all from your e-mails. Here we go!

I was wondering: Will you guys ever tape in front of a live studio audience? — Misty, Atlanta, Ga.
Probably not. We do not shoot like the average TV show. Most sitcoms are shot on soundstages, where the sets only have three sides with one side open — like when you see a play. There are three to four cameras on the floor shooting into the set and the audience sits behind them on bleachers. (This is what is called a "three-camera show." Will & Grace and Friends are examples of three-camera shows.) They rehearse their show during the week and then perform it in front of a live audience one evening. As a result, you hear the laughter of the audience during the episode.

The Office is what is commonly referred to as a "single-camera show." We shoot five days a week for about 12 hours a day. We also shoot on a soundstage, but our sets have four walls and even a ceiling. It looks like a real office. So, first off, there would be no place for the audience to sit. Secondly, the premise of our show is that a documentary film crew came into our office to shoot the people and their activities. It wouldn't make sense to have audience reaction as part of The Office.

Is the show shot at a set in a studio, or is it in a real office building? — Abby, Pella, Iowa
In Season 1 of The Office, we shot on location at a real office building, on the second floor of some old offices in Culver City, California. For Season 2, we moved to a soundstage, where they re-created the original office location down to the smallest detail. (Except that they made Michael's office a little larger. It was hard to fit the camera crew into the old office to do his interview segments.)

Why move at all? The No. 1 reason: Now we can control the weather and the amount of light that comes through the windows. When they were real windows facing the real outside, it was tricky! If you watch the DVD of Season 1, I bet you can see some subtle differences between our old location and our new stage.

The craziest thing was that for the first few weeks in our new location we would forget we were on a soundstage and get confused trying to leave. The actual exit doors were all different. Just imagine if someone rebuilt the interior of your house on a soundstage. So when you walked out your "front door," instead of seeing the outside you were still inside a giant warehouse with lights and equipment. It felt like we were on The Truman Show!

Have the writers ever considered filming a show in Scranton? — Sheba, Scranton, Pa.
As you know, the show is set in Scranton, but we haven't filmed there yet. It is really a question of budget. It would cost a lot of money to transport the entire cast and crew to Scranton. But we'd like to! I think it would be fun. I figure that it is just a matter of time.

In one of your other blog entries, you talked about the certificates that are posted around the office. What does the one behind Michael's desk say? — Mel, St. John's, Minn.
Good eye! It says "Michael Scott is the proud owner of a Seyko Timepiece." (Note: They intentionally misspelled Seiko on the certificate.) I love that one. Not only did Michael buy a fake Seiko watch, he framed the certificate and put it on the wall of his office.

In the Christmas episode, what did Jim write on the note he put in the teapot and later decided not to give to Pam? — Brad, Pickerington, Ohio
I don't know what John [Krasinski] wrote on that card. I told him I didn't want to know. John said that he (as Jim) did write something. I figure Pam will find out when the time is right.

Some superquick questions:

Is Angela a babe under all of that conservativeness? — Jeffrey, Williamstown, N.J.
Yes.

Are you the daughter of Carrie Fisher? — Anonymous
No. Our last names are spelled differently.

Is Creed cool? — Paul, Philadelphia, Pa.
Yes. Very cool. He was a member of the '60s band the Grassroots. We all love him.

I heard you are from St. Louis, so I was curious: Are you a Cardinals fan? — Jared, Belleville, Ill.
Of course! And for all you St. Louis folks — I went to Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves.

Is that yearbook picture (from "E-mail Surveillance" and "Christmas Party") really of John Krasinski? — Jenna, New York, N.Y.
Yes.

If you could choose one celebrity to guest-star on the show, who would it be? — Katie, Indianapolis, Ind.
Mike White.


What advice can you give to fellow office assistants and receptionists who feel they are way too qualified to be doing what they are doing? — Jeffrey, Los Angeles, Calif.
You are not alone — I've been there! I love that Dr. Phil saying "I want you to get excited about your life!" To me, that means taking initiative. Do more than is expected of you. This is great practice for when you finally have the job you love and you want to excel. You'll be used to giving things 110 percent. Try it as an experiment for one week and see what happens.

Thanks to everyone for your nice e-mails. Have a great week!

For even more Office gossip, check out my blogs from Jan. 12, Jan. 19, Jan. 26, Feb. 2, Feb. 9, Feb. 16, Feb. 23, March 2, March 9, March 16, March 23 and March 30.

Also, click here to see what Dunder-Mifflin's own Dwight Schrute is thinking.
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