Winnipeg gets walk-on part in upcoming episode of 'The Office'
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, October 24, 2008 5:05PM EDT
WINNIPEG - The city of Winnipeg is getting ready for its next close-up.
The Manitoba capital is being featured on an upcoming episode of the television show "The Office" when Steve Carell's cringe-inducing turn as boss Michael Scott, and a few of his underlings, visit on a business trip.
Writers for the show -- about the fictional paper firm Dunder Mifflin set in Scranton, Penn. -- said they chose Winnipeg because it struck the right balance "between exotic and obscure."
Thankfully for Winnipeggers tired of being the butt of jokes about the cold climate, the show didn't have the budget to splurge for mountains of fake snow, let alone film on location. Instead, the episode's Winnipeg scenes are set at the city's airport, a hotel and a bar -- all filmed in Los Angeles with plenty of props.
Lori Walder with Destination Winnipeg said she helped the show make its Winnipeg scenes as realistic as possible. Thanks to four shipments of local paraphernalia, viewers should have fun spotting everything from locally produced Fort Garry beer to Old Dutch potato chips, Walder said.
Winnipeg is a nice fit with the white-collar comedy and Carell's office boss character, she said.
"Toronto is fairly well-known. Montreal is kind of very European. Michael is a goof so they wanted to put him in a place that was, in some ways, similar to Scranton but with a Canadian flair," said Walder, who worked with the show's representatives for weeks.
"No offence to Scranton but we like to think of ourselves as a cosmopolitan centre."
But there is always the worry that the show won't portray Winnipeg in that light.
"Do I think it would be negative? I don't know why it would be. I don't think that's the humour of `The Office,"' Walder said. "It's really about the characters ... I would be very surprised if the joke is on Winnipeg. I think it's more on Michael."
Even though none of the characters set foot in the prairie city, some joke the episode could be a turning point.
Andrew Harris, president of Fort Garry Brewing Co., said Carell's socially awkward character won't be the same after drinking some of Winnipeg's iconic pale ale.
"It's going to show for once that Steve Carell actually has some taste," said Harris, whose beer will apparently be drunk on the show by Carell. "Quite frankly, I think it's going to change his life.
They might want to relocate from Scranton to Winnipeg after tasting this beer. It's not outside the realm of possibility."
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz says the city's celebrity status isn't entirely new. Winnipeg has been visited by "The Simpsons," as well as mentioned on the "X-Files" and "Desperate Housewives."
Online chat groups were buzzing about the upcoming episode, with some joking the city should replace its new slogan "Heart of the Continent" with "The Right Balance Between Exotic and Obscure."
It's an honour to be part of the show -- even if it pokes fun at the city, Katz said.
"We certainly have a hotbed of talented writers who make their way to Hollywood and sometimes they pay homage to their home town. You can't pay for that kind of advertising."
Still, others are disappointed Carell and company didn't make the trek to film on location.
Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said the actors should follow the example of Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, who actually filmed a movie in Winnipeg.
"We want the real deal," Doer said. "We're real people. We want reality actors here not virtual actors."
The show airs Nov. 13 on Global television at 9 p.m.