8:30am PT by Philiana Ng
'Parks and Recreation' Cast, Producers Optimistic About Season 4
On Wednesday night at PaleyFest, NBC's Parks and Recreation took over the Saban Theater and provided nothing short of laughs.
But things got serious for a moment when the cast and executive producers discussed the long hiatus between last season and its current one, as well as chances for a Season 4.
"Yeah, we're extremely optimistic," executive producer Michael Schur said. "Renewals usually happen in May so it's not that unusual that [we haven't heard anything]."
"We've never really quite known that far ahead of time what was going to happen," said star Amy Poehler, who plays Leslie Knope. "And because of it, we've had to kind of just keep our heads down and do the show. The support we got .. was so incredible and it made such a difference I think in the path of the show and I really think personally and in our lives and how we did our work."
Poehler added: "We're so indebted to when we weren't around on the air that people noticed and they cared. It made a huge difference for us. .. We've never, ever been able to fully be able to super exhale, but I think that this is the beginning of us being around for hopefully a long time."
But what about the long hiatus between seasons? Did that affect the series in any way?
"When NBC told us we were going to be a midseason show, obviously we were disappointed but we sort of all came to the same conclusion because there's really only one way to do this," Schur said. "The way to do this is to play with our heads down, everybody do their jobs -- writers need to write and the actors need to act and the editors need to edit -- and we said at the time .. and I believe this is really true. You can't anticipate how this is going to work out. .. You just don't know. It's such a weird landscape because everything's so unpredictable."
We shot essentially all of Season 3 before we were ever going to be on the air, Schur added.
The eventgoers were shown an episode, set to air next Thursday, centered on the Harvest Festival that has been building up for what seems like an eternity. [spoiler alert!] Schur gave a little snippet of what's coming up for the second half of Season 3, post-Harvest Festival.
"The second half of the season is sort of about how a woman (Leslie Knope) who is the second in control of the parks department .. when she almost single-handedly pulls of this massive thing and her profile is raised a little bit. .. That serves her professional arc," he revealed. "There's of course a personal arc too, which is that she's had this tunnel vision about Harvest Festival for so long that she's a little bit blind to the fact that Ben is obviously kind of into her. .. That starts to dawn on her a little bit. They begin to tapdance around each other. That personal arc plays out through the whole rest of the year."
Earlier in the session, Poehler likened the town of Pawnee, where Parks is set, to Leslie's child. "If you're nice to my kid, then I'll have sex with you," she joked.
Ben (Adam Scott) and Leslie aren't the only couple in Pawnee that's going through some changes.
Unlikely pair April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Chris Pratt) take a major step forward in the episode airing next week, but what does their future really hold? Schur put it this way: They're just "two young people" who are trying to find their way .. They're "on a rollercoaster."
Following Ann's breakup with hunky Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), Rashida Jones shared that her character will be letting loose a little more in the coming episodes. "[Ann] is kind of a slut," Jones declared.
Aziz Ansari, playing the inventor of the group Tom, had a request of his own. "I secretly want Usher to play my brother," he said, adding that his character's entrance would just be of him dropping from the ceiling.
Here are the rest of the session's highlights:
- Chris is hanging around: Don't worry Parks and Rec fans. According to Schur, Lowe will remain on the show. For more, go here.
- Tom will find success as an inventor: "Maybe one of them will hit .. in Season 9?," Schur joked. Coming up for Tom is the "Know Your Boob" game and a drink called Snake Juice, and no, it has nothing to do with Charlie Sheen's "tiger blood."
- The West Wing taught Lowe how to act: The veteran actor was not present at PaleyFest, but didn't stop castmates from giving Lowe a hard time. Poehler joked that Lowe learned how to file convincingly from NBC's long-running drama The West Wing.
- The genesis of the Lowe meltdown video: Schur shared that the idea came about when there was some downtime -- about six hours of it -- on set. An idea sprung from the writers, and when he shot off an email to Lowe detailing what he would be doing for his particular promo, he was all for it. And even responded in email in a Chris Traeger-like way. " 'Are you KIDDING? We are TOTALLY doing this!,' " Schur recalled.
- Paging Bill Murray: Poehler pitched to the audience that the perfect actor to assume the role of the mayor, who has been referred to several times during the series, would be Bill Murray.
- Mark may return at some point: Former series regular Paul Schneider, who exited Parks at the end of Season 2 may be back on the comedy. Schur shared that they would like him to reprise his role as Mark for a few episodes.
- More Ron and Tammy in Season 3?: So what's the next step for Ron (Nick Offerman) and Tammy (Megan Mullally)? "Full penetration," Offerman deadpanned. " .. There's only so much foreplay a fellow can take."
"Harvest Festival" airs Thursday, March 17 at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.