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More "Office" Casting

By admin Published: December 16, 2008

And you thought Jan was bad news...

As has been reported, Jack Black will be in the post-Super Bowl episode of "The Office." Add Jessica Alba . The announcement and some observations, including about last week's "Office," follow the jump.

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – December 16, 2008 – Actress Jessica Alba ("Fantastic Four,") is set to guest star in the upcoming post Super Bowl episode of "The Office." The announcement was made by Angela Bromstad, President, Primetime Entertainment, NBC and Universal Media Studios.

In one plot of the special post Super Bowl episode of "The Office," some of the office workers try to secretly watch a bootlegged Hollywood movie during the workday. Alba and comedic actor Jack Black will play characters in the bootleg movie.

The special hour-long episode titled "Stress Relief" will premiere immediately following "Super Bowl XLIII" Sunday, February 1 (10:30-11:30 p.m. ET; simultaneously to all time zones) on NBC. Season five of the Emmy-Award winning series will continue airing in its regular time slot; Thursdays (9-9:30 p.m. ET/PT) on NBC.

I'm approaching this whole stunt-casting thing with considerable fear because "The Office" is such a carefully crafted piece of work that you can't expect just anyone to come in play along. (Yes, that's another way of praising Amy Ryan, who definitely knew how to play.) Think of all the emotions and interaction in the interplay on last week's episode, the way it went from comedy to drama and (barely) back again. I keep thinking that it was an episode that argued that "The Office" is not really a comedy; it's closer to dramatic serial with lots of funny parts. The same argument was made to some degree about "Friends" in its later years, but I think it's even more to the point about "The Office." I mean, the intervention with Meredith and Michael's attempt to get her to rehab were funny in a lot of ways, but they were also dealing with some very serious; I mean, she caught her hair on fire! And then Phyllis's ratting out Angela and Dwight was painful, with everyone showing how uncomfortable and awful the moment was; did you ever feel more sorry for poor clueless Andy?

So when I think about these folks coming into "The Office," I think of something like Roseanne going on "3rd Rock." While she was funny on her own, that was a calibrated ensemble and she didn't fit. But the folks making "The Office" are very smart, and one of their smart moves appears to be that their stunt-casting the movie within the episode, letting the guests operate on their own terms while the "Office" regulars go about their business.

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