The Office Convention: Part Three -- The press conference
At 4 PM, we all shuffled into the gymnasium to speak to the assembled cast. This was fun because bloggers and podcasters (from places like Cinemablend and the That's What She Said podcast) got to sit in the same room and rub shoulders with actual reporters from actual newspapers and magazines. I'll tell you, there's no greater thrill for me than receiving the same press pass and sitting in the same room as one of the feature writers from The New York Times. Take your journalism degree and years of apprenticeship at one of the world's finest papers and shove it, pal, cause I'm a blogger. Yeah!
During the press conference, I also got to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams: I got to stand up and say, just like reporters do on The West Wing, "Uh, yes, I'm Jay Black, from TV Squad," and then ask a question. The only thing missing was Allison Janney...
Here's the question I asked: "With the advent of blogs, you have almost instantaneous feedback on an episode to episode basis. Do any of you pay attention to what's being said online, and, if you do, what, if any, effect does it have on the direction you take in season?"
(To get the full effect of how I asked that question, please imagine it with a lot of uh's and um's and with much unwanted shaking of my hand on the microphone. It's funny, I make my living speaking in front of crowds, but put me in front of a panel of minor celebrities and I turn to putty. I guess hosting the Academy Awards is out of the question for the time being.)
At first no one answered the question. Kelly smiled at me in a way that made me think that I had asked a stupid question. Then, after a beat, Kevin answered:
In the beginning, when it looked like we'd be canceled any minute, I spent a lot of time online. That's when a few of us started blogging -- trying to create an energy online. While I continue to blog, I don't read anything else because for every positive thing said each week, there's ten comments saying that the show has 'jumped the shark.'
So, the short answer is: no, not a single person reads your stupid reviews, Jay. There was a part of me that wanted to whine a follow up question: "But whyyyyyyyyyyyy?"
It raises a good point, though: is the online criticism too harsh? Because I honestly don't feel like it is. I feel like The Office, through its legions of online fans, and, especially, through iTunes during the first season, has enjoyed a staggering amount of online support. Most of the people I talked to found out about the convention through blogs like this one and it's blogs that people come to after each episode to discuss the show around the virtual water cooler.
What say you? Are the blogs too harsh?
Some other interesting tidbits:
-- On the strike: if it happens November 1st, The Office has about five more episodes in the can. This means that after December, for every month the strike continues, we all lose three episodes of The Office.
-- On the documentary that forms the centerpiece of the show: Greg Daniels revealed that they do have something in mind as to what the documentary is and who, indeed, is filming the workers at Dunder-Mifflin. When asked what that something in mind is, Daniels teased, "That's not something we're ready to reveal just yet." So, while that documentary isn't a Lost-type mystery, it certainly has me guessing. Anyone want to give their opinions in the comments?
-- Oscar tries to be funny all the time. I can't really criticize him for this because I do it too. I think I need to apologize to my friends for being obnoxious.
-- According to Daniels, Angela is least like her character and Kelly is most like her character. Just from how they reacted to us stinky, wet, bitter reporter-types, this seemed to be true. Kelly couldn't stop smiling and Angela was bounding around like a 4th-grader after a two-hour pixie-stick binge.
-- Andy on the way he was received in Scranton: It was like I was The Beatles... of Scranton.
-- After the actual conference was over, the cast came out and mingled with the reporters, with many of them giving electronic interviews (in front of cameras, with the interviewers being much more attractive than us from the written media). I got a chance to pull Creed aside and tell him what a cult figure he was on TV Squad and how appreciative the fans of the site would be to an interview. He took my phone number (really) and told me he'd call sometime this week. I'll keep you all posted on the Creed watch.
Coming soon: The Office Convention: Part Four -- The cast Q&A