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Complete with cardboard cutouts of the actors who couldn’t make it, minus Nick Offerman who was attempting to race through Los Angeles from Burbank for the session (he didn’t make it), the night was full of laughs, talk of a fifth season and Leslie Knope’s (Amy Poehler) quest to take down Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) for Pawnee’s city council seat.
Here are 12 memorable moments from the panel and some teases direct from co-creator Michael Schur (including talk of multiple endings), Amy Poehler and the rest of the Parks & Rec gang:
[Warning: Some spoilers ahead.]
1. Leslie has more competition: You thought Newport was all Leslie would have to contend with? Think again. As Schur revealed, in episode 20 (the same one Poehler wrote and direct), she debates with two other candidates and one named Festor Trim, played by none other than Friday Night Lights‘ Brad Leland (aka Buddy Garrity). Oh, and Glee‘s Mike O’Malley stops by for an episode.
2. More than two endings were shot for season finale: It’s no secret that several outcomes (Leslie winning and Leslie losing) were filmed for the season 4 finale, Election Day. Producer Dan Goor told The Hollywood Reporter on the carpet that there will be a “definitive” winner by episode’s end.
Schur also revealed to THR that there are more than two endings in the can. “We shot actually three different endings, partially because we want to make sure that the one we are choosing is the right and we reserve the right to change our minds and also partly just to confuse people,” Schur explained. “There may be” a last minute switch. Will the chosen outcome affect season 5 in any way? “We wrote it in such a way that everything up until the moment we played that scene, it could go either way,” he says. We have the ability to choose Path A, Path B or Path C. We’ll wait to edit it, see how it plays, see how we all feel about it and then we’ll make our choice.”
3. “Knope 2012” was a season 5 plan: According to Schur, Leslie’s campaign arc was something the writers were toying with for a fifth season. But once they found out they were being moved to midseason for season 3, “F— it, let’s do it now,” Schur said. It was perfect timing, too, as it lined up with the national event. It “makes breaking stories very easy.” (Oddly enough, the panel took place on Super Tuesday.)
4. Season 5 is up in the air: At the moment, the producers are hopeful that they will return in the fall. “We’re cautiously optimistic,” Schur says. Poehler chimed in to say that they’ve “had an interesting journey” to get to this place: a six-episode first season, a full sophomore run and being pushed to midseason for season 3.
5. Future of the Tammys: Schur mentioned that though none of the Tammys will be making an appearance in the remaining episodes of the season, he did leave the door open for more returns should there be a new year. “They’ll be back at some point,” he said during the session.
6. The return of Jean-Ralphio: There is a strong chance fans will get to see more Jean-Ralphio, played by Ben Schwartz (House of Lies), before the season is done. “We have shot a scene where Jean-Ralphio is in it,” Schur says, but was quick to say that it may end up on the cutting room floor.
7. Amy’s favorite scene from her episode: Poehler wrote and directed “The Debate,” airing in April, and one of her favorite scenes has to do with Chris Pratt’s Andy re-enacting a film scene. “There’s a moment in the episode where Chris Pratt has to act out a scene from his favorite movie and I could’ve watched that all day and had him do 40 movies,” she told THR.
8. The West Wing 2.0: Bradley Whitford drops by Pawnee for a guest spot in an upcoming episode and Schur, a die-hard West Wing fan, revealed that the opening scene in “Live Ammo” airing April 19, is a classic walk-and-talk. Another quintessential Josh Lyman thing? Leslie asks Whitford’s character a question and he responds with “OK.”
9. The odd couple, Pawnee style: In the remaining five episodes, expect the following pairings to take center stage: Ron-Tom-Donna, Tom-April and Ron-Chris.
10. Chris Pratt, a writer?: When asked whether he’d want to write an episode of Parks & Rec now that Offerman and Poehler have put pen to paper, Pratt was adamantly against it. “Maybe if we go 10 seasons and scraping the bottom,” he joked.
11. A Parks & Rec spinoff?!: So what if it isn’t actually real, but we’ll go with it. Picture this: 2003 TV series Philly Justice, starring Poehler, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Rudd and Kathryn Hahn. Tagline: “Without them, there is no justice.” Rudd would ultimately be replaced by Dylan McDermott, who would be replaced by Dermot Mulroney. Scott’s character, Nick Bellows, is still reeling from 9/11 and wants to go to Iraq (as a lawyer, cue laughs). Jones’ character, Joanna “Joey” Suarez, likes to talk gang. Poehler’s character, Holly McIntire develops an eating disorder. The series had a time slot after Joan of Arcadia. (Remember, 2003.)
The running joke got so elaborate that Scott created a fake email address for McDermott, telling everyone how “excited” he was, Schur recalled. Then Scott would respond using his own email, essentially responding to himself. Poehler joked that they had to “reshoot the pilot because Elizabeth Smart was found.” Highlight of the evening: A lengthy season 4 gag reel that was intercut with fake commercials promoting NBC’s newest show Philly Justice.
12. Anna Faris to guest star (maybe): If there is a fifth season, “I think it’s going to happen,” Pratt promised.
Funniest line of the night:
- “I was a master debater,” Poehler recalling one of Pratt’s classic lines
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.
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