Over on TV Guide today, they sat down with the producers and cast of NBC’s The Office, which will end its nine-season run next Thursday, and talked about the origins of the show, and what could’ve been. Some of this stuff many of us may have known, but other stuff I am hearing for the first time. It’s fascinating to think where the show — which apparently tested horribly with audiences — could’ve ended up. Read the whole TV Guide piece here, but here’s a brief synopsis of the 10 Secrets about The Office revealed in it.
1. This one I knew, but Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman) was nearly cast as Michael Scott. In fact, he was cast because Steve Carell had another pilot commitment, but when Carell’s pilot fell through, Odenkirk was dropped (he showed up earlier this season as a Philly bizarro version of Michael).
2. The show was originally developed for FX or HBO, but FX passed on it because they were concerned that too many of their viewers might have had too much loyalty to the original UK version to buy into the American remake (certainly, a problem at NBC also faced, initially).
3. Jim and Pam were almost an interracial couple. Greg Daniels had the idea, in the beginning, that Daryl would’ve been the Roy character, and that his ex-wife on the show (Erica Vittina Phillips) would’ve played the Pam Beasley character, who would wind up with Jim Halpert.
4. We knew that Adam Scott auditioned to play Jim, and that Mary Lynn Rajskub (24) auditioned for Pam, but I didn’t know that Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) was nearly chosen to play Kevin over Brian Baumgartner.
5. There was a whole slew of Dunder Mifflin branches across the Northeast, including one in Yonkers and Nashua.
6. There were several spin-off ideas, including a parody of PBS’s An American Family, which would’ve starred Ed Helms and Catherine Tate, who would’ve played Helms’ wife. Also, a Jim and Pam spin-off was considered around season four as was, obviously, the Schrute Farm spin-off that wasn’t picked up by NBC this year.
7. Many of us remember that Parks and Recreation was originally going to be a spin-off of The Office, using Rashida Jones’ Karen as the spin-off character. However, that was scrapped, but to keep the “spin-off” idea alive, Paul Lieberstein (Toby) had considered making a copy machine — which would be transported to Pawnee, Indiana from Scranton’s Dunder Mifflin office — the “spin-off” character to keep that construct alive.
8. Oscar was not originally supposed to be gay; that came as a result of Michael Scott’s Gay Witch Hunt in season three, and the need to have a target for that “witch hunt.”
9. Dwight’s Amish looking white-trash extended family was inspired by Rainn Wilson’s actual family, as well as Greg Daniels’ grandaparents, who owned a beet farm.
10. This one is not so revelatory, but had Dwight’s spin-off, The Farm, been picked up, Rainn Wilson would’ve left The Office at midseason, which sadly would’ve deprived us of last week’s fantastic episode, where he was finally elevated to manager. However, Jim and Pam would’ve visited the spin-off at some point.
(Source: TV Guide)