Brian Baumgartner And Mindy Kaling Chat About The Office Webisodes

Office Webisodes

TakeFiveGal chatted with Brian Baumgartner And Mindy Kaling about The Office Webisodes and the upcoming season.  
Asked what they’re looking forward to about their next visit to Scranton….
Mindy is looking forward to the food of Scranton.  Brian is looking forward to going back to Scranton to visit the Children’s Advocacy

How Mindy was asked to be a part of The Office Games in Scranton and what her role is at the games….
They asked her to be an Emcee.  She does stand up comedy, so it was great for her to be able to be with office fans because she thinks the convention was so fun.  She’s definitely participating.  She thinks someone with no athletic abilites can do fairly well.  Especially if people feel like they want to let her win.  She wants to participate in some sort of eating contest.  Mindy explained that most people think “that girl is so sexy, that girl is so put together.  She would never do a beet eating contest.”  Well, Mindy’s going to eat thousands upon thousands of beets, while looking really sexy.  “I don’t get the rep as someone who can eat a lot of food, and that’s what I can bring to this.”

Ruminating on the Office Convention, Brian said:
“Being there, with all of the people, people from the area, and not from the area, it was an experience that I won’t forget.”

Ask to define how she came to be a part of the show, and how her time is split, percentage wise…
“Initially, it wasn’t our decision, it was Greg Daniels’.  BJ was cast from the very beginning as an actor and writer.  Paul Lieberstein and I came aboard during the pilot because we looked average and ordinary enough to fit in… Brian jumped in to add that, “when they cast the show, they cast Brian, so they really felt like the show, that we were too hot.  Too sexy.  They wanted to bring some realism in, and they were like, what about Mindy, so they brought Mindy who really just averaged us out.  We had to offset Brian’s hotness.”  Mindy adds, “they thought of Oscar as the Scranton Ricky Martin and they were like, how do we tone that down?”

Back to how her time is split…
“Because I don’t have a huge part on the show, most of the time, I’m writing or preparing for writing.  It’s like a 70/30 split.”  In episodes where other people are writing, as a producer, Mindy has the ability to throw jokes in.  She says that the less time she’s on screen, the better, because she cracks up.  

Favorite episodes….
Mindy’s favorite that she wrote is “The Injury” where Michael hurts himself on the George Foreman.  She said it’s the broadest episode.  It’s one of the goofiest and most fun.  Kevin’s favorites are for sentimental reasons – he loves “Diversity Day” where he just felt like they have a good thing.  He also liked the Christmas episode in Season 2.

Asked about her blog….
Yes, Mindy still hates lipstick.  She’s a big lip balm fan.  She loves when people read her blog.

Ask about challenges of doing the webisodes versus a full episode of TV….
“We were sort of the first primetime show to do the extra episodes.  I think that there’s a particular rhythm that’s different.  The idea is to wrap up a semi-satisfying story within 2, 2.5 minutes but also make it connect to the whole series as a whole.  Practically, we’re dealing with a much smaller crew, and fewer people.  In some ways, because Mindy isn’t around, it makes things much easier.  More people are having to do more things.  It’s an old school, create a theatre piece, kind of guerilla film making.  The crew is still the same, we all have a shorthand of working together.  It’s not too much of a challenge.  Most of the challenge is in with the writers and wrapping up some sort of satisfying morsel and connect it to something larger.”

Asked if fans ever treat him like he might be as slow as Kevin…
“Nobody ever lets on that they think that, but then after a while if the conversation goes beyond a sentence, then I will get “you talk different.” I don’t know how to respond to that.  I don’t know exactly what it is, but Kevin has this “everybody wants to have a beer with him” thing, so it can be a dangerous proposition at any drinking establishment.  Everybody wants to buy or have a short or drink with Kevin (not me).  I don’t feel like he’s boozed it up on the show.  There’s some sort of big guy, lovable oaf thing that people respond to.”

Mindy is not writing for the spinoff…
I’m staying with the mothership.  The spinoff sounds amazing and that’ll be really fun for those writers.  

Want to see Mindy do standup?
She does stand up at Upright Citizens’ Brigade Theatre in LA.  She will do college tours this fall, too.

More money problems for Kevin next season?  
Sounds like that’s just for the webisodes.  Brian doesn’t know what the writers are dreaming up.  “The irony of how terrible Kevin is with money yet he’s an accountant at Dunder Mifflin has played out.  There’s been a running thing about him not handling his money and Oscar sort of helping out.  I don’t know if his ice cream franchise is going to expand.  I assume it’s a summer excursion for him.”

Ryan Howard: Incarcerated, Toby: replaced and in Costa Rica….
“Without giving away anything from next season, we will be satisfied by how much we see Toby and Ryan.  They both left – Toby disappeared, Ryan got arrested, so we’ll be tying up those storylines.  We haven’t seen the last of Toby.  Personally, I don’t mind seeing less of them (just kidding everybody, they’re my friends).”

Brian comments on the scene in Chair Model where he celebrates getting the parking spots back…
I loved that moment, too.  Something that’s been very important in terms of the show and Michael’s development, we work really hard to give him those moments where he’s redeemed.  You see the potential for being a good man is there, or being good at his job.  I saw that as one of those moments for Kevin – a very small victory in life. It’s a large redeeming moment for him.  In terms of what happened [with Stacey], I don’t know if we’ll ever know.  I heard some ideas.  One idea is that she was married the whole time.  I think with that near the end of the year, and then the story in the final where maybe he has slight more confidence or is at least excited by the attention from the new HR person; Kevin is definitely on the prowl, so we’ll see if he can get lucky in the first part of this year.

We see Kevin get a loan to open an ice cream franchise in the summer webisodes, but the loan is really to pay off his gambling debts…asked what Kevin is gambling on:
What isn’t he gambling on?  He loves sports gambling.  That’s been in a couple of episodes.  It was a call back to the original webisode series where he was betting on sports.  As in the episode that was directed by Harold ramis, written by BJ, Safety Training, he made a bet and said that any time you can get good odds, you should take it, even if it’s a terrible bet.  He would pretty much bet on anything.

Does Brian think the webisodes are on the cutting edge of new media?
“That’s a really interesting question. Initially, two years ago, when we did the first, we were very much a litmus test, and it sort of changed the way everybody was looking at.  I think now it’s a little different.  Whatever SAG decides, all of the contracts from here on out are going to have an online component.  I don’t know what form that’s going to take.  To me, the dispute between the guild and the producers is much more about that other kind of materials, where they want to create new programs and original stories.  The jurisdiction is there.  The reality is that the networks feel it’s beneficial.”

In Brian’s downtime…
I do other writing, and I have written something that is hopefully going to be done very soon.  Aside from that that I can’t really talk about, I shot a movie called Into Temptation with Jeremy Sisto and Kristen Chenowith.  It was exciting because it was a drama.  Unlike the office guys who came from improv or stand up, I’m just from the theatre.  As much as I love working on The Office and love playing Kevin, being able to do something different during the off season was very pleasurable.