January 10, 2023
EP. 151 — Threat Level Midnight with B.J. Novak
This week we’re breaking down “Threat Level Midnight” with writer of the episode, B.J. Novak! After years of working on his personal passion project, Michael finally finishes his movie “Threat Level Midnight” and screens it for the office. Unfortunately Holly isn’t really impressed. B.J. shares his joy of writing this episode and making Michael Scott’s movie a reality. Afterwards, the ladies reminisce on how fun it was to act and dress as their characters from earlier seasons. Angela shares some great bloopers and Jenna reveals another popular musical group that made a song inspired by “Threat Level Midnight”. So come on everybody, it’s clean up on Aisle 5. Let’s do the Scarn and enjoy this episode!
Football player doing the Scarn
The Network’s Song “Threat Level Midnight”
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151 — Threat Level Midnight with B.J. Novak
Jenna [00:00:04] I’m Jenna Fischer.
Angela [00:00:05] And I’m Angela Kinsey.
Jenna [00:00:06] We were on The Office together.
Angela [00:00:07] And we’re best friends.
Jenna [00:00:08] And now we’re doing the ultimate Office rewatch podcast just for you.
Angela [00:00:12] Each week, we will break down an episode of The Office and give exclusive behind the scenes stories that only two people who were there can tell you.
Jenna [00:00:19] We’re the Office Ladies. Hello, everybody!
Angela [00:00:25] Hi there!
Jenna [00:00:26] It’s time.
Angela [00:00:27] It is time. We have arrived at.
Both [00:00:30] Threat Level Midnight!
Jenna [00:00:31] It is Season seven, episode 17. It was directed by Tucker Gates, written by B.J. Novak. And guess who is here with us today?
Both [00:00:41] B.J. Novak!
Angela [00:00:44] Woohoo!
B.J. Novak [00:00:44] All the Tucker Gates fans are like, Oh, okay. That’s that’s okay, too. But uh okay.
Jenna [00:00:47] B.J., we’re so excited that you’re going to talk about this episode with us. I absolutely loved rewatching it. I watched the extended version on the DVD.
B.J. Novak [00:00:59] Great.
Jenna [00:01:00] Which is also amazing.
Angela [00:01:01] I watched the extended version and then I went back and I watched The Client because I was like, I need to know where it all began. I need to see it again. Oh, my God. I forgot so many different twists and turns of Michael Scarn.
B.J. Novak [00:01:13] Yes. The great thing that we discovered with The Client, I feel, is how many things you learn about someone by watching something they didn’t know was revealing something about them. So, Michael’s screenplay like, I forget it, brother. And Dwig that oh, wow, okay. He changed, Dwight to, you know, all these little things. It’s not just what a stupid screenplay. It’s you actually get a window into who he was writing it, which is so cute and and hard to watch, which is like a lot of Michael Scott. So, yeah, I, I, let me just say how happy I am that you brought me on to talk about this. This is my happiest experience, probably, with an episode, and it’s the one that I especially last time you had me on about Scott’s Tots and it was like, alright.
Jenna [00:02:00] I know, right?
B.J. Novak [00:02:01] Let’s get into it. That’s the least comfortable one that I worked on. This is the most joyous. Like, this was really a victory lap for Steve and the whole cast. For me and the writers, it was just like ah, like it was really a pure, joyous episode. We could have done a two hour version. So I’m just happy to to reminisce about it.
Jenna [00:02:23] Angela, weren’t you saying that on the commentary Dave Rogers was talking about the joy?
Angela [00:02:28] Yes. On the DVD commentary there are you, Craig Robinson, Creed Bratton, Charlie Grandy and Dave Rogers. And Dave shared how jazzed everyone was after the table read. He said the table read was so electric and everyone was so into it and having such a ball. Steve was so into it. And everyone left feeling super pumped after the table read. They couldn’t wait to dive in this episode. Like all departments were so excited.
Speaker 3 [00:02:55] Yeah. And you see that in the episode.
Jenna [00:02:58] Well, B.J., where did the idea for doing Threat Level Midnight as a full episode come from?
B.J. Novak [00:03:03] It came directly from Steve. When we went into the final season, I, I might be conflating memories, but as I remember it, Greg asked Steve. Greg Daniels asked him, Is there anything you want to do before you leave? And he said, Let me think about it. And then one day I remember I was walking from the writers’ building to the part of the parking lot where you run into each other, right?
Jenna [00:03:27] Yeah yeah.
Angela [00:03:27] Yeah, right. Uh huh.
B.J. Novak [00:03:28] Between, like the writers’ office, which is part of Dunder Mifflin, the other part. And Steve is there, like with his suit and untucked shirt, you know, he was like, Hey, I realized the episode I want to do; I want to see Threat Level Midnight. And I was so excited to run back and tell the writers. And it’s like, you know when you get news before anyone else? Like I had just received this news.
Angela [00:03:51] You got the little nugget.
B.J. Novak [00:03:52] I was like, I talked to Steve! Like, Steve- here’s what Steve wants to do: Threat Level Midnight. And everyone lit into a big grin. It’s like, we can grant that wish. That is a great wish. And probably because I reported it with such excitement, it seemed like I was the guy to write it. And I was, you know, I got the assignment.
Jenna [00:04:12] I was going to ask you that. How did you get assigned the script? Did you think it was because you’re the person who ran into him in the parking lot?
B.J. Novak [00:04:18] I think the fact that I came in with that big grin, that grin was intoxicating to the room and I was the right messenger of it. But I also think because I had been there, I had been there from The Client. Not all the writers were still there. It was only a few of us that had been there back then. And it was really like a full circle. It was also my swan song the way it was Steve’s as a writer. That’s the kind of thing I loved writing. I had been I had been kind of in a rut writing, in my opinion. I mean, the viewers don’t notice this stuff because they all end up being written collectively anyway. But like I’m like assigned Prince Family Paper. I don’t remember what it is exactly. Like, just like I’m like, what happened to the “that’s what she said” like the greatest hits, you know, and just like a big, funny, juicy topic. And so to have Threat Level Midnight, it kind of was like, there’s got to be some metaphor there, but like, you know, time travel to me, like back to the early days of like anything can happen. You know, these characters are so wild and yet so rich. And it was and it was comedy. It wasn’t we didn’t have too much drama to service. Although the poignancy of Michael having made this ridiculous movie, that he has invested all of this fantasy in the idea that it’s great. And we we all have that thing, you know, the novel that you’ve you’re going to write someday, the screenplay you’re going to write someday, the role you’re going to play someday. You know, and not just us in the business. Everybody pretty much has that thing they they think they might write some day, and they’d be very crushed if it were read and declared not good. You know, we cling to that. And so Michael had that. And so the poignancy of something that to us is the silliest thing we’ve ever seen, in the best way, and to him is like, that’s his masterpiece. If he doesn’t have that, he’s not, you know, not a secret genius, not talented. That made it poignant. But there wasn’t it wasn’t like, you know, Jim and Karen getting serious. You know, it wasn’t any one of those plots.
Angela [00:06:24] I loved watching it just because it made me miss the early seasons. We’re having so much fun rewatching it.
B.J. Novak [00:06:32] That’s what I mean. It was it was an early season vibe.
Angela [00:06:36] Yeah. And just even from like the conference room scene in the very beginning where everyone’s, like, laughing at the movie and he gets his feelings hurt.
B.J. Novak [00:06:43] Yeah.
Angela [00:06:43] And you’re dressed as Pam. I mean, you’re dressed as like OG Pam with your cardigan and your hair and the whole thing.
Jenna [00:06:50] Yeah.
Angela [00:06:50] And you just felt that sort of Jim and Pam, I don’t know, early days. It made me nostalgic to want to go back and start the start the rewatch over again.
Jenna [00:06:59] Yeah, that was a really smart thing this late in the run of the show to give us like this this travel back in time to Pam sitting next to Roy on the floor. And you’re like, Oh my gosh, look how far their lives have come.
B.J. Novak [00:07:18] I know.
Angela [00:07:18] And then and then to come back to Jim and Pam when, like, Jim is Golden Face. And he Pam looks at him like, oh my God, I can’t believe you did that. Like you, you see so much.
Jenna [00:07:27] So much growth.
B.J. Novak [00:07:28] Right. Things you wouldn’t have done then. And like the people doing the Scarn is so interesting, because it’s like, who he did and didn’t get. Like, I think Rashida is in it, right? It’s like-.
Both [00:07:41] Yeah!
B.J. Novak [00:07:41] That’s the last person that would have done this. And yet, you know what? At that moment he was her boss and it wasn’t that stupid a thing to do, I guess. Didn’t take up too much time. So here we go. We learn the dance. You know, it’s funny. It’s cute that that some people would have done it.
Jenna [00:07:57] Angela, your character does the Scarn!
Angela [00:08:00] Oh, yes, I do the Scarn.
B.J. Novak [00:08:02] Yes. You doing the scarn is even wilder. But, like, it’s your boss.
Angela [00:08:07] What’s really funny is I went back and read the shooting draft and it said that when you cut to the bachelorette group in the corner, it’s Meredith, Phyllis, Karen, and Angela.
B.J. Novak [00:08:16] Right.
Angela [00:08:17] Angela has brought her work and is doing work. She has papers, like accounting papers. So she’s sort of begrudgingly there.
B.J. Novak [00:08:23] Okay, okay.
Angela [00:08:24] And then we each have a line when um the bartender, you know, when Andy’s like, the bachelor party sent you over a cocktail. I actually printed out what we said over in the bachelorette corner. So both Meredith and Phyllis go, Heyyy. And then Meredith goes, Who ordered the man burger well done? And Phyllis says, Hey, hot stuff. One last fling? And then Angela says, Come and ride the choo choo. And then in parentheses it says, (Pained) the sex choo choo.
B.J. Novak [00:08:53] That sounds right.
Angela [00:08:55] And then it cuts to Karen’s line, and that’s what made it in. But we filmed that. I remember filming the sex choo choo.
Jenna [00:09:02] It’s in the extended DVD version.
Angela [00:09:05] That’s right. It is.
Jenna [00:09:05] That whole bachelorette scene is in that version.
B.J. Novak [00:09:08] And Andy is like such a ham, of course.
Angela [00:09:12] Oh, my God.
B.J. Novak [00:09:13] As the bartender. Which he would be.
Jenna [00:09:15] Yeah.
B.J. Novak [00:09:16] So, yeah, that was very fun doing all that math. But I think a lot of it, which is sweet and part of the spirit of The Office, too, is that people just do things when someone is excited about it, you know? A guy- and I think it’s why Michael Scott was a good salesman and that’s why the people at the bar did the Scarn. A guy comes in with wild eyes and little boy energy and tells you everything he’s going to do, and here’s what you’re going to do and here’s how great it’s going to be. And like, you’re just like, okay, sure. Like, it’s harder to, like, cross your arms and be like, no, thank you. Some people do that, but people just do things. And that’s what you sent me last night, the David Wallace talking head that got cut where he says, I should have done it. You know, like.
Angela [00:09:59] Yeah.
B.J. Novak [00:09:59] I think at the end of the day, you look back on things and you the people who do say, I’m not doing that, they regret it. Like life is short. No one’s paying attention to what you do. Like, even if you, David Wallace shouldn’t be in this movie, like, whatever. You’ll all not work here some day. Just say yes, you know?
Jenna [00:10:17] That energy, that little boy wild eyed energy where someone gets an idea and then you end up doing something that you didn’t think you were going to do is literally every situation I’ve ever been in with John Krasinski.
B.J. Novak [00:10:30] Yeah.
Jenna [00:10:30] Right? Doesn’t John- he’ll be like, Jenna! Get Lee. We’re going to Vegas this weekend. I’m like, We are? We’re going to Vegas? He’s like, We’re doing it. I have tickets. I’m like, You have a ticket in my name? No, no, no. I have tickets. You get tickets. We’re going.
B.J. Novak [00:10:47] Wait, I never heard about this trip. Did this trip happen or is this?
Jenna [00:10:50] This was a real trip! Yes! Yes. One, we’re standing out in the parking lot of Dunder Mifflin. We’re doing some scene. John’s on the phone. He comes back. He’s like, What are you doing this weekend? I’m like, I don’t know. I think Lee and I might- he goes, You’re going to Vegas. We’re all going to Vegas. I’m like, We are? We’re going to Vegas? He’s like, Yeah, yeah, can you make a 6:30 flight? And I’m like, I don’t I never (GIBBERISH) And then I called Lee and I’m like, I think we’re going to Vegas?
B.J. Novak [00:11:20] It’s the best. It’s why he’s so successful. It’s why Michael Scott was successful in his way. It’s all of us should be more like that. Because think of how it feels on the other side. I mean, you were that person. If someone comes up to you with that wild excitement saying, We’re going to Vegas. You’re like, we are? Uh, okay, I have three things I need to take care of. How quickly can I, you know.
Jenna [00:11:41] I have to undo three things that I was gonna do this weekend.
B.J. Novak [00:11:43] Someone’s just got to make the decision. Yeah. And the worst, the worst is when you’re making plans with someone and they’re like, I don’t know. Where where do you want to go? You know? Oh, no. Then you’re never even going to go to Chili’s that way. You know?
Angela [00:11:57] Oh. I know, I know. I once wrote in my journal, Don’t don’t find a Mr. Maybe. I found that.
B.J. Novak [00:12:04] Wow.
Jenna [00:12:04] Yeah.
Angela [00:12:05] I don’t- No Mr. Maybes for me.
B.J. Novak [00:12:07] This is a good that’s a good rom com bit of dialogue someday.
Both [00:12:11] Mr. Maybe.
B.J. Novak [00:12:12] Well, the title, you know it’s a lame movie but that scene… that scene in like a Nora Ephron level rom com is the scene people quote. It’s like, you know that scene where Angela goes, I don’t want a Mr. Maybe? That’s that’s who he is! He’s a Mr. Maybe.
Angela [00:12:28] Yeah.
B.J. Novak [00:12:29] Can I just go on a tangent? Like also- and Michael tried to do this in Threat Level Midnight, so it ties it in, but people don’t go for the catchphrases enough anymore.
Angela [00:12:37] Oh, yeah.
B.J. Novak [00:12:38] Like Mike Myers was the king. Like Mike Myers in Wayne’s World and Austin Powers. So it wasn’t a fluke. There are like five catchphrases that are famous 30 years later, you know? “Not!” “Yeah, baby.” “Oh, behave” like there’s so many things that are catchphrases. And I watched Jerry Maguire recently. There are like five catchphrases still.
Angela [00:13:00] You had me at hello.
B.J. Novak [00:13:02] You had me at hello. You complete me.
Angela [00:13:05] Show me the money.
B.J. Novak [00:13:06] Show me the money. Like, this is crazy. And if people like that can do it, like we should be doing it more, you know? But like, Michael knew that. Michael knew that. Well, we had, “That’s what she said.” We had “That’s what she said.”
Angela [00:13:18] You said on the commentary that you guys had so much fun in the writers room just pitching Michael’s catchphrase. So, you know, clean up on aisle five is what we hear, but apparently there’s like so many more.
B.J. Novak [00:13:31] Yes, there are so many more. And “Clean up on aisle five” I think was the best because, like, it didn’t have a double meaning.
Jenna [00:13:39] Yeah exactly.
B.J. Novak [00:13:39] It didn’t even have one meaning. It. If there- if it happened in a store, it would have a meaning. And like, there is just no meaning.
Jenna [00:13:51] So I remember we were talking once, B.J., about how there was a lot of discussion about whether or not the Threat Level Midnight episode should include, like, scenes in the office or it should be stand alone.
Angela [00:14:04] Right. Or just the movie.
Jenna [00:14:04] Can you talk about that?
B.J. Novak [00:14:06] Yeah. There were a couple of big decisions to make, and I lost that argument. I’m so glad I did. The two ways to go were be really like comedy nerd purist and just drop Threat Level Midnight the movie as an episode. Fans will figure it out. It will be so special. And there’s, there’s an argument for that. There still is. It is more special and eye catching. And yet it’s like what Community would have done. Like it’s- gimmicks are not that rare, actually, when you think about it, you know, and it we’re not like a gimmick show. We have a structure and it calls attention to the structure if you break the structure. You know, the invisible documentary structure. So I am very glad even- and also cutting those scenes about Threat Level Midnight would have allowed more of the movie, which I wish we could have seen. But you do see that I think that’s also like a DVD extra like or it’s on YouTube, I think. The whole movie.
Jenna [00:15:04] The whole movie is both on the DVD and on YouTube.
B.J. Novak [00:15:08] I’m so glad I lost that argument because it is so much richer.
Jenna [00:15:11] Because you were arguing to drop it as its own episode?
B.J. Novak [00:15:14] Yeah, I wanted to be cool and like comedy, you know, show off to the other comedy nerds that we did something that was a little hard to get at first. But, you know, and I’m glad I lost that. It’s not us.
Angela [00:15:25] If you get it, you get it.
B.J. Novak [00:15:26] Yeah.
Angela [00:15:26] Yeah.
B.J. Novak [00:15:27] I I’m glad I lost that argument because, A, that is a distracting thing from investing in the reality of the show. And also the emotional meaning of it is very important. And, you know, like I was saying that this is so silly, and how silly it is is breaking Michael Scott’s brain because he can’t wrap his mind around it not being good. And it’s breaking his heart if he accepts that. And Holly is there to take him from the fantasy kid version of him, which is like, I can be Sylvester Stallone if I want, you know, to the adult version, which is you are a wonderful guy who made a silly movie at one point with his friends. And like, ugh, that’s so much more beautiful, but it’s hard to accept. But that gives it that gives it some meaning.
Angela [00:16:19] Well, and Michael can start letting go of his fantasy life a little more now.
B.J. Novak [00:16:23] Yeah. Yeah.
Angela [00:16:24] Because he’s invested in his real life now.
B.J. Novak [00:16:27] It’s a huge growing up thing for him.
Jenna [00:16:29] I love that scene back in, I guess, the annex.
Angela [00:16:34] By Holly’s desk?
Jenna [00:16:34] When Michael is coming to the realization that she doesn’t see it as the masterpiece that he does.
B.J. Novak [00:16:40] Yeah.
Jenna [00:16:40] And she has that line where she says, I think it’s a really fun thing you did with your friends.
B.J. Novak [00:16:46] Yeah.
Jenna [00:16:47] I think I think you should value that.
B.J. Novak [00:16:49] That directly comes from a hard moment in my youth when I had I had spent all year making a movie in college that I thought would be, you know, oh, I had always wanted to be a filmmaker. And, you know, this is this is it. It was called Alphabet Soup, by the way. And and I made this movie and I spent all year on it. And it starred my roommate Ches and Ches’ his mom and others saw it at the end of the year. And she said, The important thing is that you got to make something fun with your friends. I was enraged. I was so upset that it was so obvious to her that that’s all it was. It was, you know, a sentimental, like, oh, I remember we made that movie. And I was like, no, I would never have done- I could have goofed around with my friends on the weekend. Like, this was my film. And and so many times and it’s funny, I mean, even this our reunion here on Office Ladies is, is an example of that tension in life, too. You know, at the end of the day, Jenna and Angela, like you- is The Office something you did with your friends or is it something, honestly, like obviously it’s so much more- you made money and career on it and it’s meant a lot to a lot of people. If I had to pick one, I mean, on the other hand, that’s your life at the end of the day, you know? So if if someone said- and I think you’re probably so secure about The Office, and if not you’re psychotic, because you never get- it never breaks that well, you know, when you sign up for something. But if someone said to you, you know, isn’t that great? Isn’t the most important thing that you got to make that with your friends? I think you’d say 100% because we’re secure about that. But I think for me, as someone who was so ambitious from the second I was born and did not value life and love and connections and stuff, that has been a slower lesson for me and a harder one. And so I really I put that into the Holly scene because I had I had been Michael Scott, you know, about that.
Jenna [00:18:58] But to be fair, when you have put your heart into something, to lead with the compliment, Isn’t it great that you made something with your friends, like, we we can say like, isn’t it great at the end of the day The Office is something we made as our friends because there’s, like, a million other things that come before that, you know?
B.J. Novak [00:19:19] A lot of validation. No, you’re right. It is, it is- no, you’re right. In my defense for being offended, it is a very dismissive thing to say about someone’s work. I agree with you.
Jenna [00:19:29] Yeah.
Angela [00:19:30] So one of the things you guys talked about on the commentary, B.J., literally you and Charlie were giggling when the scene came up, like giggling laughing, was the monologue about Antz versus A Bug’s Life. The two of you, I guess, worked on that, and you really had a great time and love that monologue.
B.J. Novak [00:19:47] That is my favorite Michael Scott talking head of all time.
Angela [00:19:50] Oh, you guys, we should hear it. We have it.
Michael Scott [00:19:53] I am a huge Woody Allen fan. Although I have only seen Antz. But I’ll tell you something. What I respect about that man is that when he was going through all of that stuff that came out in the press about how Antz was just a rip off of A Bug’s Life, he stayed true to his films. Or at least the film that I saw, which again was Antz. Thing is, I thought Bug’s Life was better. Much better. Than Antz. Point is, don’t listen to critics. Listen to your fans.
Angela [00:20:30] B.J., watching you listen to that is such joy.
B.J. Novak [00:20:32] It’s still my favorite. And I remember, you know, when you direct an episode or you supervise your writing, generally you crouch below the camera with the actor, right? And so, you know, and you have alts written down and like little ideas. So I’m there off c- and if one of you laughs, the other laughs, right?
Jenna [00:20:52] Yeah.
B.J. Novak [00:20:53] So I know this is like the greatest take of all time. And and a lot of the takes, I laugh at the end and then Steve laughs. And I’m like, Nobody laugh. Nobody ruin this. Because it’s one take. And we just got it. I think he laughed right afterwards. But this is just my absolute favorite. First of all, his performance is astounding in that he has so much anguish and fury behind true, true emotion. True emotion, not a parody emotion. True emotion behind this thing that he also knows is so insanely off topic. So many levels. He’s a huge Woody Allen fan. Okay. That’s a surprise from Michael Scott. Although he’s only seen Antz, which is a minor animated movie that that Woody Allen is only a voice in. A very weird one-off in Woody Allen’s career. He didn’t write or direct it or even appear on camera. And.
Jenna [00:21:58] Yeah, it’s not a Woody Allen film.
Angela [00:22:00] But that that’s how he knows Woody Allen is from Antz.
B.J. Novak [00:22:03] Right. And he knows that Woody Allen went through a lot of controversy in the press. He only knows about the extremely minor controversy that Antz was a rip off of A Bug’s Life. Clearly, not all of the stuff that is the real obvious scandal about Woody Allen. And he also he thinks, wait, which one does he think is better than the other? Whichever one it-
Jenna [00:22:30] A Bug’s Life. A Bug’s Life is better.
Speaker 3 [00:22:30] He thinks A Bug’s Life is better than Antz. Even though he’s a huge fan. It’s just and all of this is to say that you don’t listen to your critics, which he really means. And by the way, I think of this line sometimes, you don’t listen- you don’t make it for your critics, you make it for your fans. And that’s true. And I think that’s actually probably the reason I think of this a lot is in the social media age, everything you do has critics. Everything you do. You post a photo of yourself at with your family. It has critics, you know? That probably have a point. They probably have a point, you know? Because you can criticize anything. And, you know, these days, there’s there’s someone said about a comedian that I know, you know, oh, do you think he’ll have an audience? Whatever. My friend said, he’ll be the way everyone is; not for everyone. And I’m like, right. Nobody’s for everyone. You can’t make anything for everyone. You have to make it for the people that get it, for your fans. So I actually think of that Michael Scott line a lot, but it’s crazy that that’s how it got there. I feel like I just took the whole episode breaking that one thing down, but you could see how much I love that.
Angela [00:23:43] I mean, I could listen to you talk about any of your process, B.J., and what inspires you. I mean, Jenna and I talk about that all the time.
B.J. Novak [00:23:50] Oh, well, thanks. But yes, I think the giggling, the off camera giggling that you watched while you were playing that clip is probably says it all about me.
Jenna [00:24:01] B.J., we have a fan question. This is from John C in Silverdale, Pennsylvania, who would like to know, Were there any other previous cast members or guest stars that you wanted to bring in for this episode but were unable to get due to scheduling conflicts? You brought back so many people.
B.J. Novak [00:24:20] Yes. I think Amy Adams couldn’t do it.
Jenna [00:24:24] Yes, Randy, Randy said that you guys tried to get Amy Adams back and she was doing a film and she was really bummed out. She even sent like a letter? She said, thank you so much for thinking of me and that she was so bummed that she couldn’t be in it.
B.J. Novak [00:24:38] That was really classy. And I didn’t remember that. But but it just goes to show like we thought like, well, Amy Adams, she was doing such enormous movies and she had been like on a few episodes. One of the- she doesn’t want to come back to do a guest like flashback in Threat of Midnight. But she did. You know, she didn’t do it, but she wanted to. That alone says a lot about her and about the show.
Jenna [00:24:59] So, B.J., do you remember what role she was going to play?
B.J. Novak [00:25:02] I don’t.
Jenna [00:25:04] Well, I found an old interview with you.
B.J. Novak [00:25:06] Okay, great.
Jenna [00:25:07] And you said that she was going to play a floozy who was in bed with Michael Scarn. That Dwight would wake him up and tell him about the mission from the president. And in the scene, Michael was going to tell her that he was unsatisfied with their empty lovemaking because no one has ever been as good as his wife. And then there was going to be a talking head with Katie, where she says, with embarrassment, how she did the role because she had some interest in acting back in the day. And then you were going to kind of catch up with what she’s up to now.
B.J. Novak [00:25:42] I love that the word floozy would only have been- I must have really been channeling Michael Scott because I can’t imagine saying, Oh yeah, she’d play a floozy. I’m not totally sure what a floozy is, but I know it’s like a dime a dozen dame from an old type of movie.
Angela [00:26:01] Yeah.
B.J. Novak [00:26:03] That was just is clearly so much fun. We could have gone on forever.
Angela [00:26:07] It was really fun to see all the warehouse guys doing the Scarn.
B.J. Novak [00:26:10] Yup.
Angela [00:26:10] And you got Dave Koechner back. My gosh, everybody. It felt like everyone was there.
Jenna [00:26:15] Yeah, Melora.
B.J. Novak [00:26:16] I actually love that. I love that song. And I also really love, I think the end credits of the episode has like the Will Smith version of The Scarn where like um-
Jenna [00:26:30] Oh, it’s a totally different song. It’s not even the Scarn.
B.J. Novak [00:26:32] Oh, it’s not even the song.
Jenna [00:26:34] It’s the Threat Level Midnight.
B.J. Novak [00:26:34] Yes, yes, yes.
Angela [00:26:35] It’s Andy Bernard.
Jenna [00:26:37] Theme song.
Angela [00:26:37] Yeah.
Jenna [00:26:37] Sung by Ed Helms in a Will Smith-esque style rap.
B.J. Novak [00:26:41] Right. And that was Michael’s vision, that it was Will Smith. It’s so good. I didn’t write. I think Charlie wrote that. It’s so funny. Makes all the ladies feel all right from Madonna to Madeleine Albright. And I did admire that Michael Scott would pick such strong women as his dream women.
Jenna [00:27:01] It’s sorta true, right?
B.J. Novak [00:27:03] I know. I really thought like that was a great choice. Michael is sort of like an instinctive feminist. He does admire- he liked Jan. You know, he likes a strong woman. He thinks they’re sexy. And I think that is cool about Michael. And yes, that to him, his go to dream women would be Madonna and Madeleine Albright, back whenever he wrote this thing in 2003 or whatever, is funny.
Angela [00:27:27] Well, we have it. Here it is.
Andy Bernard [00:27:31] (SONG/RAP) Awww yeah. Threat Level Midnight. Makes all the girlies feel all right. From Madonna to Madeleine Albright. Threat Level Midnight. It’s a threat, a level, a level level threat. train full of crap. He’s the greatest hockey star I’ve ever seen yet. Threat level what? Midnight. Threat level who? Michael Scarn. Threat level why? Apartheid. Gotta fight it. Free Mandela. Peace, I’m out.
B.J. Novak [00:27:56] Fighting apartheid, which he probably meant. But it was like the cause of the moment when he the song he was writing that lyric. Just so smart.
Angela [00:28:07] So last week we talked to Billie Eilish and we talked about how she sampled Threat Level Midnight for her song, My Strange Addiction.
Jenna [00:28:13] B.J., what was it like when you got the call that you had to give permission because your voice is in it.
B.J. Novak [00:28:20] I knew who Billie Eilish was. I was I didn’t really know her music then. Now I’m a fan, and now I am friends with her brother Finneas, who does a lot of that stuff. He composed the score to my movie Vengeance. But at the time I didn’t. I just knew she was like some cool singer. So I was like, Oh, cool. And you know, since then she became so big and I knew who she was. But to me, the fun part is that song will come on and I will just say to someone, Oh, I’m actually on this song. As though I’m like, as though I’m a rapper or something. I’m actually on this song. What, you mean you’re on this song? No, no. My voice. It’s like, what? And then it like, obviously it’s not as cool as it sounds, but it’s still like it’s true.
Angela [00:29:00] It’s still pretty cool.
B.J. Novak [00:29:01] Yeah. Like I’m on this track.
Jenna [00:29:04] There’s the legacy of The Office, but then there’s also the legacy that is Threat Level Midnight from The Office.
B.J. Novak [00:29:10] Someone sent me a touchdown dance someone did the Scarn as a dance in the end zone and people recognized it. I wouldn’t have recognized it. Like it does, it hits, you know? And I think, you know what it is? I think it’s that Michael Scott boyish enthusiasm actually leapt through the whole screen and everything. Like that contagious Michael Scott energy, just people got it even now. Like a football player got it so much that he’s like, I am, I get it. I’m in. I’m gonna do the Scarn. Like, it has gone far and wide.
Angela [00:29:45] And here in this moment when I’m full of adrenaline, I’m going to- that’s the thing he thought of to do.
B.J. Novak [00:29:49] Yeah, I’m gonna write a song-.
Jenna [00:29:49] I remember that because it was a game against the Cowboys and it was a touchdown against the Cowboys.
Angela [00:29:53] No way.
Jenna [00:29:54] Yes. Yes.
B.J. Novak [00:29:55] Insult to injury.
Jenna [00:29:55] Yeah. So so my my team is my team is losing in this moment and the receiver’s doing the Scarn.
B.J. Novak [00:30:03] That must have been painful.
Jenna [00:30:05] It was.
B.J. Novak [00:30:06] Yeah.
Angela [00:30:07] I was looking online and just also the fandom. They’ve made their own trailers for Threat Level Midnight. They’ve done, I mean, fans have done some really cool stuff with it, too.
B.J. Novak [00:30:18] Yeah, it has that thing. I mean, the name is so funny. I didn’t name it. I forget who did way back, but um but the name Threat Level Midnight, it’s like, it it it sounds right. It has the right ring to it for like a Sylvester Stallone eighties movie. But, like, that’s not a level, midnight.
Jenna [00:30:42] Well, B.J., is there anything that we have not had a chance to discuss?
B.J. Novak [00:30:47] The takeaway for me, besides how fun it is to talk about this, is how similar talking about this with you two is to the spirit of Threat Level Midnight, which is it really is about how much fun it was to do something when you were younger that you took so seriously. And we are very lucky in that, you know, we are just a little part of the hundreds of people who made The Office what it was. But we are very lucky that our thing is something that everyone validates us for and we’re proud of. But I think that over time you realize, Oh, that was my that was my heart and soul in life, no matter what anyone thought of it. And that is what Michael realizes. That is what I realized over time. I’m sure it’s what you’re realizing with your show. So this sort of Threat Level Midnight was a trip down memory lane for The Office writers and cast and crew, and it was a trip down memory lane for Michael Scott in a in a painful way for him because he had to confront his delusions of grandeur that he hadn’t given up. So, yeah, just talking about it with you, I feel like I feel like Michael and Holly, you know? I feel like where we’re doing that kind of thing.
Angela [00:31:57] It’s so fun.
Jenna [00:31:58] Oh, B.J., we love having you on the show. You’re always so generous with us, and it’s just good to see you.
B.J. Novak [00:32:04] I love it. It’s great to see you.
Jenna [00:32:05] Thank you, B.J.
B.J. Novak [00:32:05] And um alright, see you soon.
Jenna [00:32:06] Love you!
Angela [00:32:08] B.J., thank you. Love you.
B.J. Novak [00:32:08] Thanks. Love you, too. Bye.
Jenna [00:32:09] Bye! That was great talking to B.J.
Angela [00:32:14] Always.
Jenna [00:32:14] Yes. Now it’s time to break down this episode. And Angela, I don’t know about you, but I have so much.
Angela [00:32:22] Look at this phone book I’m holding.
Jenna [00:32:23] So- it’s very thick.
Angela [00:32:25] These are my notes. It’s like 28 pages.
Jenna [00:32:28] I mean, it’s Threat Level Midnight!
Angela [00:32:29] I know.
Jenna [00:32:30] All right. How does it open?
Angela [00:32:32] Well, the scene opens with a delivery man named Archie. Did anyone else catch that it said Archie on his shirt?
Jenna [00:32:38] No!
Angela [00:32:39] Well I caught it. Look at this! We’re already off to a great start. We have background catches. We have Archie. He’s got a package for Michael. And guess what?
Jenna [00:32:48] What?
Angela [00:32:49] There’s going to be a shootout.
Jenna [00:32:51] There really is. Michael is going to win the shootout.
Angela [00:32:55] He does like a robot dance.
Jenna [00:32:57] No, he’s not doing a robot dance. He’s doing like The Matrix, right? He’s being like Neo. Yes, Angela. Keanu. Did you not get this?
Angela [00:33:06] Yes.
Jenna [00:33:07] What do you mean, yes?
Angela [00:33:08] I did!
Jenna [00:33:08] You said robot dance!
Angela [00:33:11] Of course I caught it. I mean, you were just so excited. Look at you. You’re having a moment because you’re like, I caught the Matrix reference! Oh, my God! I’m letting you have a moment.
Jenna [00:33:22] Letting me have a- I don’t believe you. I don’t think you caught it.
Angela [00:33:24] Bitch, look at my notes.
Jenna [00:33:25] What?! What is happening today?
Angela [00:33:29] Look at my notes!
Jenna [00:33:30] Okay. Okay. Her notes do say, I sensed a little bit of The Matrix in this scene when Neo dodges the agents fire when he’s on top of the building. That is what Angela wrote down.
Angela [00:33:42] Here’s one of Jenna’s phrases that I love. It’s when someone crosses the line with her, she goes, You’re going to want to back that up. And that’s how I felt when you were like, Did you not catch that? Of course I caught that.
Jenna [00:33:54] All right. Well, I’m going to have to back that up. You caught it. Thank goodness. I would have been confused.
Angela [00:34:01] Okay. We can continue being friends now.
Jenna [00:34:03] We can.
Angela [00:34:04] There is no spoon.
Jenna [00:34:05] Well, we had a fan question from Kendall T in Durham, Maine, who asked, Who plays the deliveryman that Michael Scarn shoots at the beginning of the episode?
Angela [00:34:15] Archie.
Jenna [00:34:15] Yes, Archie. So the actor who played Archie was an actor named Greg Collins, who Randy Cordray pitched for the role because the actor who was originally scripted to play this part was not available.
Angela [00:34:26] Michael Naughton.
Jenna [00:34:28] Michael Naughton, Michael’s improv teacher from Email Surveillance. I’m sorry, but that would have been amazing.
Angela [00:34:35] That would have been so funny.
Jenna [00:34:36] I mean, that’s the guy who took away Michael’s pretend guns in improv class.
Angela [00:34:41] Also, you guys, if you ever get a chance to see Michael Naughton on stage, he’s so hilarious.
Jenna [00:34:46] Well, I thought Greg Collins did a wonderful job.
Angela [00:34:48] He did. He was perfect. He even looked how I thought a delivery guy in this type of movie would look.
Jenna [00:34:53] Yes.
Angela [00:34:54] Did you notice that 41 seconds, his shirt is unbuttoned all of a sudden?
Jenna [00:34:57] No, I didn’t. Was that to show the blood?
Angela [00:35:00] Yes. So he had like a navy button up and then all of a sudden, at 41 seconds, it’s unbuttoned.
Jenna [00:35:05] I love that. Randy said that the guns were dummy guns. They held no ammunition and they put all the sound effects and the muzzle flashes in during post-production. I watched that scene knowing that it was done in post-production and I kind of couldn’t believe it.
Angela [00:35:20] That is wild, because you could see Steve as Michael kind of flinching, you know?
Jenna [00:35:25] I know. He did the kick back.
Angela [00:35:26] That’s some good fakey kick back acting.
Jenna [00:35:29] It really was. We also had a fan question from Madu P in Toronto, Canada, who says, I immediately recognized the music from The Bourne Identity when I first watched this episode. How much did it cost to get the rights? Well, I’m impressed that you spotted that. It was The Bourne Identity. It was scripted. Randy Cordray said it cost $25,000 to get that. B.J. said he thought Michael Scott would have pirated it off of like a DVD he had.
Angela [00:36:02] Totally.
Jenna [00:36:02] Right?
Angela [00:36:02] Yeah.
Angela [00:36:03] Well, at the end of the scene, Michael’s going to say, Clean up on aisle five.
Jenna [00:36:07] Mm hmm.
Angela [00:36:07] We talked about this with B.J.. I went to the table read draft of the script, and they had two phrases from the very beginning. It made it all the way to the shooting draft, and it was recorded but they ultimately went with clean up on aisle five. The other one was, Return to sender. It even made it into the bloopers. I think we should hear it.
Michael Scott [00:36:29] Return to sender. Clean up on aisle five.
Jenna [00:36:36] Okay, so clearly clean up on aisle five is the thing that made everyone crack up and that’s how it won.
Angela [00:36:42] It seems like it doesn’t it?
Jenna [00:36:43] Yeah.
Angela [00:36:44] And then Michael has this talking head where he says, After three years of writing, one year of shooting, four years of reshooting, and two years of editing, I have finally completed my movie, Threat Level Midnight. Jenna, it took Michael Scott and you and I the same amount of time to write something.
Jenna [00:37:00] Are you talking about our book?
Angela [00:37:02] Yes. It took us three years and seven months to write our book.
Jenna [00:37:08] So the episode begins with Erin making an announcement in the bullpen. Michael is with her. She says, Threat Level Midnight is complete. And Michael’s willing to watch it with everyone, but only if everyone is dying to see it.
Angela [00:37:22] The Jim and Pam talking head is so good.
Jenna [00:37:25] We are so giddy.
Angela [00:37:26] You’re so giddy. Also, when I rewatched this, I thought John looked a little sweaty throughout this episode.
Jenna [00:37:34] What?
Angela [00:37:34] I don’t know. I don’t know if I was really tired but I was like-.
Jenna [00:37:36] As golden face or as Jim?
Angela [00:37:38] As Jim. In the bullpen. I was like, I wonder if it was a hot day. I even went to the shooting draft to see the week we filmed it, to see the date. I was like, Oh, I bet it was in the summer. No, it was January. But J.K,, you look a little sweaty.
Jenna [00:37:51] I wonder what that was about. Just him?
Angela [00:37:53] I thought so. Sorry, J.K.. I just thought you looked you had a little bit of a glow.
Jenna [00:37:59] He had a glow.
Angela [00:38:00] He had a glow.
Jenna [00:38:01] All right. Pam tells Michael they definitely want to watch the movie. And after he leaves, she gives the bullpen a little a little pep talk to set the right mood for watching this movie. Kind of a mom speech.
Angela [00:38:14] Oh, yeah, she says, So let’s stay positive. And no laughing, no comments, just positive energy. And we’ll have a pure fun day. Okay? And Creed’s, like. Thanks, Mom.
Jenna [00:38:27] Everyone’s really excited. They start to gather in the conference room. Phyllis is going to bring in some popcorn.
Angela [00:38:33] And Holly did not know that Michael had made a movie and he’s really excited for her to see it. And she says, I can’t wait!
Jenna [00:38:39] The first shot of the film is a picture of the exterior of Scarn Mansion. And we got a fan question from Davina K in Illinois who said, In looking at the main image of Scarn Manor in the movie, you can see in the bottom right hand corner of the screen a small picture of Carol’s face. Did Michael use an image of one of Carol’s real estate listings? Yes.
Angela [00:39:05] Yes.
Jenna [00:39:05] Yes. That is exactly what he did. Randy said that this image of this house was actually a stock photo. And we brought in Nancy Carell and took a picture of her. And Michael Gallenberg added it.
Angela [00:39:19] To the bottom of the photo?
Jenna [00:39:20] Yes.
Angela [00:39:20] Well, like I said, there is a DVD commentary for this episode and Charlie Grandy shared that there was a lot of debate in the writers room about the size of this house that they used for Michael Scarn’s manor because they wanted it to be a house realistically that Carol would be showing in this area.
Jenna [00:39:38] It did look like a mansion. Definition of a mansion.
Angela [00:39:42] It did. And the address is 451 Hanover Lane, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. I looked it up. I couldn’t find a house.
Jenna [00:39:49] Oh, we made it up.
Angela [00:39:50] Maybe so.
Jenna [00:39:51] Hmm.
Angela [00:39:52] Now we’re going to see a montage of news clippings. You know, Michael, here as the director is trying to tell you a back story, guys.
Jenna [00:39:59] So then we see a bunch of magazine covers announcing Michael Scarn’s marriage to Catherine Zeta.
Angela [00:40:05] Mm hmm.
Jenna [00:40:06] And then the announcement of her death at the hands of Golden Face.
Angela [00:40:10] Yeah.
Jenna [00:40:10] We had a fan question from Kristin M from Cedar Falls, Iowa, who said, Did Catherine Zeta Jones have to give her permission to be featured in this episode? Did she get paid as a guest star? Actually, no. We did not pay her or ask her permission.
Angela [00:40:25] Was it like a stock photo?
Jenna [00:40:26] It was a stock photo that we bought from the photographer for $790. Yeah. And then Michael Gallenberg took a picture of Steve dressed in a tuxedo. And then that’s how they made the picture.
Angela [00:40:37] Well, it’s a very good picture. I thought she looked beautiful.
Jenna [00:40:40] And, you know, she was excited. Her family is a fan of The Office. And she even came on our podcast for The Client and read our summary.
Angela [00:40:48] And we had a huge cut out of her that we put next to us when we recorded because she had to send in an audio clip. But it was like she was right in the room with us.
Jenna [00:40:54] She was our first A-list guest.
Angela [00:40:57] I think so.
Jenna [00:40:58] Yeah. Even though she was a cutout.
Angela [00:41:00] That’s right. Well, now we’re going to find Scarn face down in bed. Bottle of booze. His butler is going to be waking him, holding a very elaborate silver tray, very fancy breakfast tray. Did anyone else think Michael Scarn lying face down like that was like a little nod to Major League? You remember that opening sequence where they go and find Tom Berenger and he’s like face down with some booze. No one else remember Major League? Come on!
Sam [00:41:30] I do and yes.
Angela [00:41:31] Thank you. Wasn’t it exactly the same?
Sam [00:41:34] Yes.
Angela [00:41:34] Thank you.
Jenna [00:41:35] Well, I noticed that Steve’s face was all scruffy when he wakes up.
Angela [00:41:40] Yeah. He’s been on a bender. He’s not making good choices.
Jenna [00:41:43] Well, Randy said that in order to get that scruffy look, they had to put a note on the call sheet reminding him not to shave before coming to work, because Steve would always shave before coming to work. And they had a little note that said, Steve, don’t shave.
Angela [00:41:57] Don’t shave. I have a question.
Jenna [00:42:00] What is it?
Angela [00:42:00] What was Michael’s budget for this movie?
Jenna [00:42:05] I don’t know. But he made it over a very long period of time.
Angela [00:42:08] He did. But we’re about to be in the Oval Office. We’ve already seen what his condo looks like. It’s candelabras and silver trays and whatnot. But this Oval Office, which is supposed to be, I’m guessing, the conference room.
Jenna [00:42:20] Yes, it is the conference room. And you can even see reception through the door when the shot is on Michael and Dwight. Or I’m sorry, on Michael and Samuel.
Angela [00:42:32] Samuel. Did you see what was outside the window behind President Jackson?
Jenna [00:42:37] What?
Angela [00:42:38] Cherry blossoms.
Jenna [00:42:40] It was amazing. Our set dressing team was incredible. I didn’t know where we were when the scene started. Until we reversed the shot. But they put one of those, like, fakey light box window things behind him. It was amazing.
Angela [00:42:57] Michael put that there.
Jenna [00:43:00] Yes.
Angela [00:43:00] And he hung the elaborate curtains and he got the sculptures and all the paintings. Did you catch the address of the White House?
Jenna [00:43:07] 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Angela [00:43:09] Washington, D.C., comma, D.C..
Jenna [00:43:12] Oh, no, I did not.
Angela [00:43:14] Washington, D.C., D.C..
Jenna [00:43:18] Well, in this scene, the president is going to explain that Scarn’s old enemy, Golden Face, is planning to bomb the NHL All-Star Game, and he’s also taken hostages. Now, this is really personal for the president because he owns the stadium. It’s his retirement plan.
Angela [00:43:36] I know.
Jenna [00:43:37] That’s what the president is going to retire doing is owning this one stadium.
Angela [00:43:44] Scarn can’t decide if he’s going to take this job on or not. So he’s got to flip a coin seven times.
Jenna [00:43:50] Best outta seven.
Angela [00:43:51] And he doesn’t edit around that. You’re going to see all seven coin flips.
Jenna [00:43:55] That’s right. So something B.J. said in an interview that I thought was so funny, because, you know, there is an obsession with all star games in this movie. He said he thought that Michael Scott would view an All-Star Game as the most important event in sports, even though in real life they’re kind of irrelevant.
Angela [00:44:17] It’s more about the championship game.
Jenna [00:44:19] Yes. He said he also liked that Golden Face had a thing for All-Star Games and he had previously blown up the WNBA All-Star Game, which is how Catherine Zeta Scarn died.
Angela [00:44:30] Did anyone else catch at 4 minutes and 10 seconds that Darryl is clean shaven?
Jenna [00:44:35] I did.
Angela [00:44:35] Mm hmm.
Jenna [00:44:36] It’s the first time we’ve seen Darryl without facial hair.
Angela [00:44:41] Ever.
Jenna [00:44:41] In an episode of The Office.
Angela [00:44:42] Yeah.
Jenna [00:44:43] We got a fan question from Pietur G in Poland, who said, Did the writers have to plan out a theoretical timeline for Michael’s film schedule so that hair and wardrobe could represent it? For example, in addition to the fact that Darryl is clean shaven, I noticed that we see Jim and Pam’s season one and two hairstyle. Kelly has her updo.
Angela [00:45:07] Yeah.
Jenna [00:45:07] Angela has her braid from the early days. I can only imagine the amount of planning and wardrobe meetings. Oh, yes, this was a whole thing. Just speaking of Darryl, Randy said that we had to pick up some Darryl work from a previous episode, and hair and makeup had to add back a fake, like mustache-goatee for Darryl to match.
Angela [00:45:29] Yeah.
Jenna [00:45:29] At one point.
Angela [00:45:30] Oh, yeah. Craig talked about this on the DVD commentary. I think it was a big thing for him. He did not want to shave, and B.J. really insisted on it. I guess B.J. wanted the character that Darryl plays, President Jackson, to be distinct in time from Darryl Philbin.
Jenna [00:45:45] Mm hmm.
Angela [00:45:46] But that meant he had to get this weird, fakey beard in between as they cut back and forth. B.J. also shared that they had to glue sideburns onto his face.
Jenna [00:45:57] I didn’t even noticed that.
Angela [00:45:58] Yeah. You know where you can really see it? Well, first of all, if you go to one minute, 55 seconds, you can see it. But then later in the episode when he’s on the ice skating rink is when I really saw it.
Jenna [00:46:08] Oh, okay.
Angela [00:46:09] Yeah. Fakey sideburns. Well, we all know Michael’s going to take the job. He didn’t need to flip the coin seven times.
Jenna [00:46:15] No. Clean up on aisle five.
Angela [00:46:17] Cleanup on aisle five, guys. We are now going to the stadium where the hostages are being held.
Jenna [00:46:24] Mm hmm.
Angela [00:46:25] And we meet Golden Face.
Jenna [00:46:27] Mm hmm.
Angela [00:46:28] Played by Jim. Also a very giddy John Krasinski, who wanted the gold makeup. He was excited to become Golden Face.
Jenna [00:46:36] You have no idea how excited John was to film Threat Level Midnight. All of it. Later, we’re going to get to that skating scene where he’s in that just ridiculous skating outfit with the gold face. He was so on board for all of it and you can see it in his performance. It is so incredibly charming and fun. John’s performance as Golden Face is one of my favorite parts of Threat Level. Midnight.
Angela [00:47:02] Same. John is going to have a talking head where he said obviously, you know, he didn’t love the dialogue of Golden Face.
Jenna [00:47:08] He didn’t love saying that he was going to dig up Scarn’s wife and hump her real good?
Angela [00:47:14] Yeah. But he obviously took the part to impress a receptionist. This scene was longer. It’s in the extended cut that’s on the DVD.
Jenna [00:47:23] I remember it. It’s amazing.
Angela [00:47:25] Yeah. So Golden Face leaves. And when he does, the hostages quickly are like, we’ve got to pick a leader. I went to the shooting draft as well because I wanted to read it. Roy says, We need to choose a leader. Someone tough enough to take on Golden Face. And Pam says, I can be the leader. Kevin’s like you? What makes you so tough? And Pam says, I have experience as a leader, a negotiator, a general, and a cop. In other words, I’m a mom.
Jenna [00:47:52] I remember that line.
Angela [00:47:54] Everyone smiles and nods. Toby puts his hand on Pam’s leg and says, Yeah, it’ll be Sandra. That was your character’s name. So then Golden Face is going to reenter. And Pam goes, Gulp.
Jenna [00:48:11] I remember that, too.
Angela [00:48:13] Jenna. You had to do that gulp so many times because you guys kept laughing and it’s in the bloopers, and I want you to hear it.
Jim as Golden Face [00:48:21] So have you chosen a leader yet?
Jenna as Pam [00:48:29] Gulp! Oh god. (LAUGHTER) Gulp. (LAUGHTER) Don’t look at me. (LAUGHTER)
Angela [00:48:36] Gulp!
Jenna [00:48:40] I mean. Oh, that was fun. I remember so that was shot in the warehouse. You can probably tell. They tried to dress it as if we were behind the scenes at a hockey stadium. But I have strong memories of shooting those scenes.
Angela [00:48:59] There’s a few others in the bloopers, too. It looked like you guys were having a lot of fun. There’s one that I can’t play because it’s all visual. But Brian, as Kevin has to stand up, but his hands are tied. And he kind of flops over on you guys as he tries to get up. And it’s so funny.
Jenna [00:49:16] Well, big twist in the plot is coming up. Scarn finds out that the all star game is sold out. And the only way he’s going to be able to get in is to be a player in the game. But he doesn’t know how to skate.
Angela [00:49:30] And that’s when we meet Cherokee Jack.
Jenna [00:49:33] You know that Creed’s part of Cherokee Jack was initially scripted to be Idris Elba?
Angela [00:49:39] No way.
Jenna [00:49:39] Yes, but we couldn’t get him. He was filming a movie in, like, Hungary or something. And Randy.
Angela [00:49:45] Did Randy tell you that? I didn’t know that.
Jenna [00:49:45] Yeah. Randy said that the logistics of getting Idris on an international flight for one day of shooting in Van Nuys was, quote, Too big a hurdle to overcome. So B.J. Pivoted. He rewrote the part for Creed, which I love.
Angela [00:50:01] Oh, my God. I loved everything about it. I loved his tasseled jacket. It’s very Karate Kid. You got to mop the ice.
Jenna [00:50:08] Mop the ice. Why do I have to mop the ice?
Angela [00:50:11] You’ll see.
Jenna [00:50:12] We also got a fan question from Angie in Birmingham, Alabama, who said, What is the song that is playing while Michael is mopping the ice? Angie, that is the the Billy Joel song Running on Ice. Randy said it cost us $40,000 for that song in that montage of Michael doing his Bowflex and mopping the ice.
Angela [00:50:33] Steve doing the Bowflex is in the bloopers. There’s no music. You know, they added the music later. It looks like they’re like throwing water on him. I don’t know. But he’s going hehhhh hehhhh. And he just cracks himself up. I also noticed there are really good. Like figure skaters skating behind Michael as he’s learning to skate.
Jenna [00:50:55] I saw that as well.
Angela [00:50:56] Next up, our director, Michael, is going to do that classic thing that happens in movies where they show a passage of time with this calendar. Right? The dates are falling on the ground. It’s one of those page a day tear off calendars. Well, it was a Dave Barry calendar. And B.J. told us that Dave Barry was a favorite of his in his formative years, and he loved his comedy. He would read Dave’s books out loud at summer camps to make other kids laugh. And so he was really excited to have this calendar be part of Threat Level Midnight.
Jenna [00:51:27] I love that. I love imagining B.J. at summer camp reading a Dave Barry book to the other campers.
Angela [00:51:35] It’s so cute. Randy also shared with us that when they reached out to Dave Barry’s legal representation to see if they could use his calendar, his assistant, Judy Smith, was a huge fan of the show.
Jenna [00:51:46] That always helps.
Angela [00:51:48] Yes. Dave was out of town, but Judy tracked him down, got his permission. So Randy said a big thank you to Judy Smith for helping us make this happen. And on the commentary, Charlie shared that Dave Barry also sent in a letter to the writers and an autographed photograph of himself, and the writers hung it in the writers room.
Jenna [00:52:09] That is so cool. That must have been such a weird full circle moment for B.J..
Angela [00:52:14] I know.
Jenna [00:52:17] Can I interrupt our breakdown for one quick second to tell you a TMI thing?
Angela [00:52:23] What’s going on?
Jenna [00:52:25] I’m wearing a new bra.
Angela [00:52:26] Oh.
Jenna [00:52:27] I wanted to get new bras. And I love it. It’s great. It’s a Natori. A brand that I learned about. My left boob has kind of fallen out of the cup.
Angela [00:52:40] Of your bra? Right now?
Jenna [00:52:42] It’s not completely falling out, but it’s more out, and I can just feel that it’s not symmetrically supported. I think maybe I got too small size.
Angela [00:52:55] Do you need to um- well, we know you have a big rack. Do you need a moment to-
Jenna [00:53:02] I wasn’t trying to say it like that. I was saying I think I didn’t, you know, I didn’t want to take-.
Angela [00:53:08] Do you need to do the scoop?
Jenna [00:53:09] No. I don’t know. I’ve tried scooping it.
Angela [00:53:11] I saw you fidgeting. I didn’t know what was happening.
Jenna [00:53:12] I know. I know. And that was the thing. I wanted to fidget again, but I was getting self-conscious about constantly tugging at my left boob. But here’s the thing. I didn’t do the extra step of having the lady with the tape measure help measure me for the correct bra size because I didn’t want to deal with it.
Angela [00:53:30] Right.
Jenna [00:53:30] And now I think I bought the wrong size. But everything else about it I like, it’s just I don’t have symmetrical cup support, boob support.
Angela [00:53:40] Two things are going through my mind right now. One is that the left side doesn’t fit, but the right side does.
Jenna [00:53:46] Yeah, that’s correct.
Angela [00:53:48] So left side, bigger?
Jenna [00:53:49] Left side’s always been bigger.
Angela [00:53:51] Okay.
Jenna [00:53:51] It’s over my heart. And I think that’s actually really common that your left breast is larger than your right.
Both [00:53:57] Cassi?
Cassi [00:53:58] No, I’ve never gotten them properly measured.
Angela [00:54:03] Okay.
Jenna [00:54:03] Okay.
Angela [00:54:04] Here’s my other thing that’s going through my mind. I went to get my mammogram. You guys, I’d been putting it off. Jenna fussed at me hardcore. She was like, Lady, it is time. Go do it. I’m bad about that stuff. I’m bad about making doctors appointments. So I went. I was so proud.
Jenna [00:54:21] You did. I was so proud of you.
Angela [00:54:23] I texted you, I’m going to get my flippin mammogram. I went in there, I put on the little pink robe, you know, that opens in the front.
Jenna [00:54:32] She sent me a photo from the mammogram place.
Angela [00:54:35] In the robe.
Jenna [00:54:35] Saying, it’s happening. Look. You should be proud of me.
Angela [00:54:38] The lady, her name was Ashley, she said, Step up to the machine. Turn your cheek to the left. Did my right boob first. Turn your cheek to the left. I’m going to take your right boob. I’m going to put it on this like metal tray. And then I’m going to hit this button and it’s going to compress it. But I need you to lean into it. Squished my boob, and then I had to hold it. And then all the lights flickered and everything stopped, and the machine broke. With my right boob in it. The machine broke. They hit a button, released my boob. And then the lady was like, I don’t I don’t know what just happened. I don’t know. The computer’s frozen. And then it said, Emergency shut down.
Jenna [00:55:21] Your boob broke the mammogram machine, lady.
Angela [00:55:24] This was the joke. The nurse kind of was like, your boob broke it. Anyway, so they couldn’t fix the machine. And I left. I left. So there you go. Josh kind of jokes that whenever I get around, like any kind of electrical device, it shortens out. Like, maybe I have tungsten, maybe I have tungsten in my boobs.
Jenna [00:55:44] I hope everyone enjoyed these two boob stories today.
Angela [00:55:47] Well.
Jenna [00:55:48] It was just.
Angela [00:55:49] Jenna’s left boob is too big, and my right boob has superpowers.
Jenna [00:55:53] What, what an amazing thing. Well, we should probably get back to this episode. There’s a very intense skate off that’s about to happen.
Angela [00:56:02] Oh, my gosh. I lived for the skate off.
Jenna [00:56:05] It was so good.
Angela [00:56:05] There are three contestants in the skate off; Scarn and then a guy in an all black suit with a white mask and then a guy in all blue. I will never get over Oscar in that blue suit. I will never get over it. I was very curious about these speed skating suits, so I did a mini dive.
Jenna [00:56:25] On speed skating suits?
Angela [00:56:26] Yes!
Jenna [00:56:26] Do tell.
Angela [00:56:28] I found a great article on Romper dot com about the evolution of speed skating outfits. It started really in the Olympics in 1924, and the article goes all the way to present day. In 1972, skaters started wearing something along the lines of what we see now. It’s known as a skin suit. They are one piece uniforms. They’re ultra tight. They include gloves and a cap or a hood, and they help make the skaters more aerodynamic.
Jenna [00:56:57] Mm hmm.
Angela [00:56:58] They even have Kevlar patches built in.
Jenna [00:57:01] Kevlar?
Angela [00:57:02] To protect vital body parts.
Jenna [00:57:05] That seems heavy. Isn’t that the thing that stops bullets?
Angela [00:57:08] I mean, that’s what it’s said. For every player the skin suit is designed by taking the overall measurements of body parts. Chest, waist, thigh. They’re all measured.
Jenna [00:57:17] They’re custom made?
Angela [00:57:19] Well, I’m guessing at the Olympic level they are.
Jenna [00:57:22] Yeah, sure.
Angela [00:57:22] Maybe there’s a generic one that you can just buy small, medium or large. I don’t know. Helmets are now mandatory as part of a short track speed skating. And also skaters may wear Kevlar gloves to prevent them from getting cut by their competitor’s skates. But long track skaters, which is kind of what Golden Face and Scarn are doing, they don’t have to wear helmets or gloves, but now eye protection is mandatory.
Jenna [00:57:48] Wow.
Sam [00:57:49] And Jenna, the answer to your question is no; Kevlar super light. That’s one of the things that makes it such a cool product.
Jenna [00:57:55] But does it stop bullets?
Sam [00:57:56] It can. It’s it’s extremely it’s like a couple of times stronger than steel and super, super light. I only know that they make some really great motorcycle stuff that’s you wouldn’t know is not regular leather jacket, but keeps you nice and safe.
Jenna [00:58:09] Wow.
Angela [00:58:10] How about that? It also protects your private parts when you’re skating.
Sam [00:58:14] Which are very important to me. Yes.
Angela [00:58:15] Mm hmm.
Jenna [00:58:17] Hmm. Well, the winner of this race is going to get to skate in the All-Star Game.
Angela [00:58:21] Yeah.
Jenna [00:58:21] Who knew? And speaking of bullets and being bullet proof, this skate off is going to also turn into a shootout.
Angela [00:58:30] But Golden Face didn’t mean to hurt Scarn. He just wanted him to lose. Ha ha ha!
Jenna [00:58:36] And how’s your wife?
Angela [00:58:38] Ughh. We should talk a little bit about how we filmed these skating scenes. The shots on the ice rink were shot by Matt Sohn, who was a very skilled skater himself. I mean, Steve is very good as we can see.
Jenna [00:58:52] Yes.
Angela [00:58:52] But Matt was able to skate backwards while holding a camera.
Jenna [00:58:56] Wow.
Angela [00:58:57] I know. Randy spoke to Matt and he said our key grip, Dale Alexander, built a tiny dolly on ice skate blades to help get the camera down at ice level.
Jenna [00:59:08] Wow!
Angela [00:59:09] Our camera got to skate, too. Here is Matt’s exact quote: You can remind Jenna and Angela that it was the most we used a dolly for the entire run of the whole show.
Jenna [00:59:21] Wow. That is very technical. That is the kind of advanced technical shoot. And this is reminding me of a conversation that I had with B.J.. You know, I went to his restaurant pop up that he does, Chain.
Angela [00:59:37] Yes!
Jenna [00:59:37] Because they were doing a collaboration with Chili’s.
Angela [00:59:39] Eat at chain.
Jenna [00:59:41] Yes. I got to feel God in this chain tonight. The food was really good. I know you got it as takeout.
Angela [00:59:47] I did. I was so hungry, and I had missed dinner, and I ate all of it at, like, 10:00 at night.
Jenna [00:59:52] They were amazing. They even made me a gluten free version. The chef’s amazing. Okay. Anyway, while we were there, I was chatting with B.J. about Threat Level Midnight, and he said that there was a huge debate about whether or not Michael’s movie should be shot well or not well. And he’s told me that Paul Lieberstein, who was the showrunner at the time, was very adamant that it should look better than you expect, not worse than you expect. And the reason for that was Paul just said it’ll be more fun to watch. We don’t need the joke to be like that Michael cut off someone’s head.
Angela [01:00:30] Or, like, the camera’s, like, shaky.
Jenna [01:00:32] Exactly. And B.J. told me that the way he justified that was that he liked to imagine that over the years, Michael had become friends with a couple of the documentary guys and that he roped them into shooting this in their free time. But they couldn’t use any of their amazing equipment. They just used Michael’s home video equipment. But because of their expertise, they could come up with these ways where like you would do it at home, like you would instead of having a dolly, you would put it on a shopping cart and roll it or put it on a skateboard or something. But they had these tricks and that’s why Threat Level Midnight is shot so well.
Angela [01:01:09] It does beg the question, then, has this documentary crew been around for 11 years? Where do they live?
Jenna [01:01:14] I guess so. They have had no other job. Are they from Scranton?
Angela [01:01:18] Yeah. I need a story.
Jenna [01:01:19] Did they relocate to Scranton? These are good questions.
Angela [01:01:23] Well, on the DVD commentary, B.J. said that Matt Sohn did a really cool thing. After everything was shot, he went back in and washed out the color of the footage of the movie to make it look even more distinctly different from the documentary footage. And I could see it.
Jenna [01:01:39] I thought that was really smart because then you knew when you were watching the episode versus when you were watching Threat Level Midnight.
Angela [01:01:45] Yeah.
Jenna [01:01:46] Oh, one more thing from this scene that I thought was really fun. You know, Golden Face has a golden gun?
Angela [01:01:52] Yeah.
Jenna [01:01:53] B.J. said Phil Shea just took it upon himself to make a golden gun. It was not scripted that way.
Angela [01:01:58] Oh, it was perfect!
Jenna [01:01:58] I know. And B.J. was so tickled when he got to the ice rink and he saw the gold gun for Golden Face.
Angela [01:02:05] But this is just the example of how every department was so excited to be a part of this project.
Jenna [01:02:11] It’s so true.
Angela [01:02:12] Scarn is going to realize that he’s got to take out the guy who won.
Jenna [01:02:16] Well, he was number two. So if number one is gone, he’ll get the slot.
Angela [01:02:21] That’s right. So he strangles Oscar’s character.
Jenna [01:02:24] With an American flag.
Angela [01:02:26] Yeah. He apologizes.
Jenna [01:02:28] This scene is much longer in the DVD version.
Angela [01:02:31] So much longer. Oscar really makes a meal out of like his, like, legs kicking and like, all of it. It’s pretty hilarious.
Jenna [01:02:41] One of my favorite details is that after Oscar has died, he continues to blink.
Angela [01:02:46] Yeah.
Jenna [01:02:46] Did you notice?
Angela [01:02:47] Oh, I noticed.
Jenna [01:02:48] This death scene is making everyone in the conference room a little uncomfortable. They’re like, Wow, that was dark.
Angela [01:02:54] Yeah, well, you have to believe that they watched the extended cut.
Jenna [01:02:58] Yes.
Angela [01:03:01] Back at Scarn Manor, Samuel is going to reveal some information. He has intercepted a name, Jasmine Windsong, but he doesn’t know who the funky cat is. And Scarn says, Not who. What? Because The Funky Cat is the hippest jazz club in town.
Jenna [01:03:17] Well, lady, before we go to the Funky Cat, I think we should take a little break because.
Angela [01:03:24] You’re going to put your boob back in your bra?
Jenna [01:03:26] I actually am going to go and see if maybe I do some adjustments, if I can make some more room on the left side. I’ll let you know.
Angela [01:03:35] When we come back, Jenna’s boob will be in place and we’re going to meet Jasmine Windsong.
Jenna [01:03:40] Mm hmm. We’re back. Here’s what I’ve discovered.
Angela [01:03:46] Okay.
Jenna [01:03:47] My boobs in. But it doesn’t feel in because there’s cup and then there’s a little lace. And I’m feeling it kind of bulge on the lace.
Angela [01:03:57] Okay.
Jenna [01:03:58] So it’s in. It’s going to be fine.
Angela [01:04:01] But it doesn’t want to be there.
Jenna [01:04:03] You know, I was trying to level up Angela. I was trying to maybe.
Angela [01:04:07] Give the undergarments a zhooszh?
Jenna [01:04:09] Yes. And so I went with a bra with some lace on it. And I don’t think the lace is for me. I just, you know, I’m almost 50 and I think I know what I like.
Angela [01:04:20] I disagree. I think you can wear lace in your fiftees.
Jenna [01:04:22] I’m not saying you can’t wear lace in your fifties. I’m saying my left boob is not a lace fan.
Angela [01:04:28] I think your left boob is a lace fan. I just think the lace is a little wimpy and you might need some stronger lace.
Jenna [01:04:35] Oh!
Angela [01:04:37] You need. You need big boob lace.
Jenna [01:04:40] Oh.
Angela [01:04:41] Maybe right now you have medium boob lace.
Jenna [01:04:43] I don’t know.
Angela [01:04:44] Well, you know who’s probably wearing some lace?
Jenna [01:04:46] Jasmine Windsong.
Angela [01:04:48] How do you like that for a transition?
Jenna [01:04:50] I think you did that great. She’s up on the piano. She’s singing as Michael enters The Funky Cat. And Michael Scarn sits down at the piano. We cut to this amazing Jan talking head that I just simply could not love more.
Angela [01:05:07] It was so perfect. I had to go to the shooting draft because I had to know if the bit she was doing.
Jenna [01:05:13] Where she couldn’t open the car door?
Angela [01:05:15] Yes! Yes! I had to know if that was scripted.
Jenna [01:05:17] Was it scripted?
Angela [01:05:18] No!
Jenna [01:05:18] It’s so great.
Angela [01:05:19] It’s not in the script. This is all it says in the shooting draft. Jan Talking Head. She’s on the street walking to her car. Jan says, He finished his movie? No kidding. Wow. That’s great. Good for him. And I heard he has a serious girlfriend. That’s so great. I’m great, too.
Jenna [01:05:38] Okay, well, sadly, they cut out the end because I would have loved that snark from Jan. I love the choice that she is carrying a bag of dry cleaning to her car. I love that she can’t get the door open. I love that they’ve clearly ambushed her on the street to ask her about her role in Threat Level Midnight. I love it all. I love her performance. And by the way, Jasmine Windsong is a very important part of this movie because she is going to sing backwards a very important clue.
Angela [01:06:07] Yes. Michael is going to record it with a special mini tape recorder that has like a little label maker that says backwards.
Jenna [01:06:14] Because if you put a label that says backwards, it just plays things backwards for you.
Angela [01:06:19] The message says the hostages are under the stadium.
Jenna [01:06:24] But as soon as she delivers that message, she gets a dart to the neck.
Angela [01:06:28] By assassin Troy.
Jenna [01:06:30] Yes, Troy Underbridge is back. And you know, his role is even larger in the extended version.
Angela [01:06:37] Yeah.
Jenna [01:06:37] Location alert. The Funky Cat Jazz Club was filmed at Stove Piper Lounge in Northridge, California. And the lyrics for the song, They Call Me Jasmine Windsong were written by B.J. Novak. And the music was written by Eve Nelson, who was our amazing go to composer on our show.
Angela [01:06:55] Back at the stadium, our hostage, Sandra, played by Pam, is going to beg Golden Face to let them all go. But it doesn’t work.
Jenna [01:07:04] No.
Angela [01:07:06] In fact, he decides to take out a hostage. Toby!
Jenna [01:07:10] Yeah. He needs to show how serious he is. We had a fan question from Anna T in Peoria, Illinois. In this episode, Michael says that the scene with Toby’s head explosion was the most expensive among all the scenes in the movie. And I’m wondering which scene was the most expensive that you shot in the whole series of The Office? And which one was the most expensive for this episode? Well, as far as being the most expensive in the whole series.
Angela [01:07:39] I have a guess.
Jenna [01:07:40] Yes?
Angela [01:07:41] I know they had to build a whole entire gas station and a freeway.
Jenna [01:07:44] Yes! You’re right, Angela. The Jim Pam proposal scene, he said the second most expensive would probably go to filming on the boat in Niagara Falls, especially if you include all the travel and location expenses to get there.
Angela [01:08:00] And Anna, as far as the most expensive scene in the episode, on the commentary, B.J. said definitely he thought it was the Toby explosion. But Randy said that’s not accurate.
Jenna [01:08:10] Oh, really?
Angela [01:08:11] Really. Randy thinks the sequence of scenes at the Funky Cat Bar were more expensive because it included all of these elements: the music, the choreography, the extras, the costumes, the set dressing, all the signage, the locations and the guest stars.
Jenna [01:08:26] Oh, yeah, that makes sense.
Angela [01:08:28] Mm hmm. So, Funky Cat wins most expensive scene.
Jenna [01:08:31] We got another fan question from Hannah B in Wisconsin. I would love to know how you did make Toby’s head explode. How many times were you able to get this shot? And did you have a safety meeting? Well, Hannah, B.J. said they made two Toby heads, and in order to make the heads, Paul had to sit in a full face plaster mold for hours. Hours of time that B.J. said he could have been producing our show, but instead he was just sitting in a face mold. After that was done, to get this shot they rigged each of the molds with mild explosives. They filled one of them with blood, and then they set up cameras from three different angles and they filmed them exploding in slow motion. When they went back to review the footage, they said the one that was filled with blood was just too disturbing.
Angela [01:09:19] Oh, I bet.
Jenna [01:09:20] It was just too gruesome.
Angela [01:09:22] It needed to look super fakey.
Jenna [01:09:24] It did. So that’s why they ended up using the one that they did.
Angela [01:09:28] I do remember Paul talking about sitting in all that plaster, though, and he said it was a miserable experience.
Jenna [01:09:35] I mean.
Angela [01:09:35] Claustrophobic like for hours. Like, don’t you have, like, a little tiny straw you breathe through?
Jenna [01:09:41] Yeah. Randy confirmed that, yes, we definitely had a safety meeting. We had to discuss protecting the camera crew from the shards of Toby’s.
Angela [01:09:54] Plaster face.
Jenna [01:09:54] Flying yes, everywhere. But we removed the cast from the shot, which you can tell, which is very funny. No one is sitting around the dummy Toby. And the whole thing cost about $5,700 in special effects and labor.
Angela [01:10:09] Scarn and Samuel are going to arrive to save the hostages.
Jenna [01:10:13] It’s very exciting.
Angela [01:10:15] I know.
Jenna [01:10:16] And for some reason, Golden Face is going to reveal where the bomb is hidden.
Angela [01:10:21] It’s in the puck. He tosses it to Scarn and Scarn holds it and starts to reminisce about his life with his wife. There’s like a little montage playing on the hockey puck. This was our director, Tucker Gates’s idea. And in the flashback montage, here’s what Scarn sees: he sees himself painting his wife’s toenails, and he’s kind of blowing on them to dry them. He’s also walking maybe animal cookie crackers or some kind of cracker across a woman’s belly while they’re laying on the grass, and then a ketchup fight.
Jenna [01:10:59] This montage makes so obvious how Michael has never really been in a healthy relationship, because when he had to create a flashback love montage, these were the ideas he had of a blissful relationship. But I mean, Angela, ketchup fight. We’ve all done that, right?
Angela [01:11:21] Oh, yeah. That’s totally a normal part of courtship.
Jenna [01:11:24] And I personally love when Lee and I are in bed and he moves the animal cracker across my belly. It’s hot.
Angela [01:11:32] While I’m like, I’m like, Hey, what you want to paint my toenails?
Jenna [01:11:36] I mean, only if you blow on them after.
Angela [01:11:39] Well, Scarn is going to hurl the puck right back at Golden Face, and he’s going to yell, Go puck yourself. Charlie Grandy shared that he wrote, Go puck yourself.
Jenna [01:11:47] Nice. This whole thing is going to end terribly. Golden Face is going to try to shoot Michael Scarn and Samuel is going to jump in and take that bullet. And then Golden Face is going to shoot Michael Scarn right after.
Angela [01:12:03] Apparently Samuel diving in front of the bullet was not scripted.
Jenna [01:12:05] It was not scripted.
Angela [01:12:06] That was just Dwight.
Jenna [01:12:08] That one bullet pierced Michael Scarn’s brain, lungs, heart, back, and balls.
Angela [01:12:15] But it’s going to take a lot more than that to take Scarn down. Good thing he’s got a big, busty nurse to help make everything feel better.
Jenna [01:12:23] Oh, Helene.
Angela [01:12:24] How awkward. Could you imagine?
Jenna [01:12:27] I mean, Pam is trying so hard to be supportive of this movie, and clearly, clearly, she never knew that her mom filmed a scene for Threat Level Midnight. I feel like she’s discovering it in the moment.
Angela [01:12:42] I can’t believe her mom wouldn’t tell her. I wore a super duper push up bra and leaned into the camera. Back at the White House, a fully recovered Scarn is going to tell the president that the bomb is in the puck. Plot twist coming.
Jenna [01:12:58] Yeah. Golden Face and his sidekick are going to walk into the president’s office.
Angela [01:13:05] They’re in cahoots!
Jenna [01:13:06] With machine guns. The president is in on it!
Angela [01:13:09] Scarn is going to smash a picture of Abraham Lincoln over the president’s head to escape. Carrie Kemper pitched the joke of Michael smashing the painting over the president’s head.
Jenna [01:13:19] Well, Randy said that that picture was a public domain image. It was free to use. And our art department printed multiple copies of it on easy to tear paper. I love the choice that Craig made as the president in this movie to sort of stick his head out in anticipation of getting the Abraham Lincoln portrait on his head. It’s so good.
Angela [01:13:43] It’s so good. I also love whenever Andy’s character, Billy the Bartender, is in a scene, when it cuts to Andy, he’s mouthing the words.
Jenna [01:13:49] Yes! In the conference room?
Angela [01:13:51] Yeah.
Jenna [01:13:52] So we had a fan question from Tom M in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who said, I imagine this was a tricky episode to film, since you have to act in this movie how your character would act. And none of the characters are professional actors, except for maybe Andy. How hard was that as an actor to act poorly? Were there takes where maybe your acting was too good? Tom, this is really interesting because we did all put a lot of thought into what kind of performers were each of our characters. And again, kind of like what B.J. said about how Paul didn’t want the camerawork to be terrible, we were also directed to not be awful actors. Maybe a little stiff. Maybe.
Angela [01:14:38] Camera aware.
Jenna [01:14:39] Yes. But you’ve seen those videos that people post maybe where they’re acting out a skit at their job. I watched some of those on YouTube because I was like, I think that would be Pam. Like, Pam would just say all of her lines very simply, with earnestness. Almost as if she was reading them.
Angela [01:14:58] Yeah. Without any pauses.
Jenna [01:15:00] Yes, exactly. Without any inflections.
Angela [01:15:03] Well, we’re not at this part yet, but I can tell you, when I had to learn the dance, I had to take the hip sass down a notch.
Jenna [01:15:10] Oh, because of your natural hip sass?
Angela [01:15:13] I like to, you know, sashay. And I had to tone that down. We are finally going to make it to the bar and we see Billy played by Andy. Andy was so excited to make this character happen. Billy’s TV doesn’t work. How’s that for problems? And I loved it when Michael’s like, Don’t ever change, Billy. At 12 minutes, 52 seconds, when the group of bachelorettes give Michael a drink, did anyone else think it looked like my husband’s the F Train to Brooklyn extra bitters?
Jenna [01:15:41] Yes, I did, Angela.
Angela [01:15:43] Yeah, with the little toothpick. The whole thing. We talked about this with B.J.. All of the bachelorettes actually had a line. It’s in the extended cut on the DVD, if you want to see the full scene.
Jenna [01:15:53] Yes. I’ve got a location alert. This location was the same as The Funky Cat. We just used a different side of the bar.
Angela [01:16:03] Oh so smart.
Jenna [01:16:03] Mm hmm.
Angela [01:16:04] Well, Karen is going to have a talking head saying, Why did you single my line out? Like, a million years later? And at 13 minutes, 4 seconds for my background folks, you will see another cameo callback. Dan Gore is exiting the cafe behind Karen’s talking head. You know, Dan played Karen’s baby daddy.
Jenna [01:16:22] Yes. Didn’t he dress as a hot dog in a photo on her desk or something like that?
Angela [01:16:25] Oh, yeah.
Jenna [01:16:27] That’s amazing.
Angela [01:16:28] As the scene continues in the bar, we find out that Scarn is really depressed, you know? And Billy is going to cheer him up. He tells a random kid in overalls. Who is this kid?
Jenna [01:16:40] That kid was played by Joshua Reed.
Angela [01:16:42] All I could think of is like, is this a Schrute? Like is one of Dwight’s nephews or cousins in town? Anyway, he tells the little boy to hit G-9 on the jukebox. It’s time to dance The Scarn.
Jenna [01:16:55] Oh, we talked about this with B.J.. It was so fun. All you guys are so funny. I love all the cameos in the background of this scene. We’ve got the whole warehouse, and then we have Leo from Vance Refrigeration, but not Gino.
Angela [01:17:08] I guess in real life, Gene was like, No, I don’t want to want to do The Scarn.
Jenna [01:17:12] Well, Leo’s having a good time. And we also have Todd Packer.
Angela [01:17:15] Yeah, I will tell you, the day we filmed this was such a blast. We, of course, had to learn the dance and practice it a few times. And we also had to figure out how our character would dance, how up for it they would be. And I just have such fond memories of this day.
Jenna [01:17:32] We had a fan question from Avery G in Idaho, who asked who choreographed The Scarn? Well, I’ll tell you, first of all, the lyrics were by B.J. and the music was by Eve Nelson again, and the choreography was by Marianne Kellogg. She’s done all our choreography on the show, and she’s great.
Angela [01:17:49] Well, she was very patient with us. If you look at the group who learned The Scarn, we are all different levels of dance skill set.
Jenna [01:17:55] I mean, this is not a difficult dance, though.
Angela [01:17:57] It’s not. But we had to get the timing right. But we also had to make it look like we didn’t over know it. Do you know what I mean?
Jenna [01:18:04] I do. Back in the conference room, The Scarn is giving Jim the giggles. He can’t stop laughing.
Angela [01:18:10] Here’s a tidbit for you. On the DVD, they said we shot this conference room scene with everyone reacting on the first day. So nothing had been filmed yet. So John is laughing at nothing.
Jenna [01:18:22] Wait. So the entire time we got back to the conference room, all of us are watching nothing?
Angela [01:18:28] Nothing. Can you believe that?
Jenna [01:18:31] I mean, I don’t even remember it that way. That’s what’s so crazy. I was there.
Angela [01:18:37] B.J. said, John, when he’s having this laughing fit, is watching nothing. And he was amazed at how well it timed out.
Jenna [01:18:44] Wow. Well, the laughing is going to really upset Michael. And so much so he’s going to pause the movie and walk out.
Angela [01:18:51] Yep. And everyone is like, no, no, no. The movie’s great. Don’t leave. And that’s when Michael turns to Holly and says, if she liked the movie and she says, Which part? Oh, no.
Jenna [01:19:02] Yeah. This leads to that scene in the annex that we talked all about with B.J. and Michael’s talking head about Ants versus A Bug’s Life.
Angela [01:19:12] Yeah.
Jenna [01:19:13] And Michael, who is heartbroken that Holly does not understand how important this movie is to him, is going to watch the rest of the movie.
Angela [01:19:20] Without her.
Jenna [01:19:21] Yeah.
Angela [01:19:22] Mm hmm. But as he watches it without her, he starts to sort of see it through her filter. RIght?
Jenna [01:19:28] Yeah.
Angela [01:19:29] And as he’s looking at her empty seat, he then looks out the conference room window. And there she is. She’s watching it. He runs out to her. He apologizes, she apologizes. They kiss. They go back in to watch it together. They’re such a good couple. They really are. She gets him and she’s making him a better person.
Jenna [01:19:49] Yes. Yes. I think that was the whole point of this plot was to mature Michael. Lady, we had a fan question from Paige M in Philly. Paige asks, When everyone is watching Threat Level Midnight for the second time, Michael gets up to check on Holly. At that time, Golden Face is telling Pam why his face is gold. However, the audience misses it because we are listening to Michael and Holly’s conversation. I want to know, what was he saying?
Angela [01:20:19] I actually found this scene in the shooting draft, but it’s also in the extended movie on the DVD as well. I’m going to set it up from the shooting draft and then I’m going to play the clip.
Jenna [01:20:29] Great.
Angela [01:20:30] The script said, Interior Stadium Warehouse. The hostages are scared. Kevin is praying. Roy says to Pam, Now’s your chance. Go talk to Golden Face. See what you can do. Pam approaches Golden Face and in the script it says that Pam’s character is flirtatious.
Jenna [01:20:48] Oh. Hmm.
Angela [01:20:50] So Pam had some stage direction. Let’s hear the rest of it.
Roy [01:20:54] Now’s your chance. Go talk to Golden Face. See what you can do.
Pam [01:20:59] Okay. Hey, Golden Face. Can I ask you a question? I mean, since we’re all going to die here anyway, why is your face gold?
Jim as Golden Face [01:21:11] Why do you care?
Pam [01:21:12] I’m just making conversation.
Jim as Golden Face [01:21:15] I worked in a gold factory. We had a boss who only cared about money. And he wouldn’t give us lunch breaks. So we had to eat the gold. And then one day I looked in the mirror and, well, I guess you are what you eat.
Pam [01:21:35] Golden Face, that is so sad.
Jim as Golden Face [01:21:38] Well, I just thought if I could blow up all the All-Star games, all the trophies would explode all over the place, and then everyone would be gold. Just like me.
Roy [01:21:50] Please let us go, Golden Face!
Pam [01:21:52] So sad.
Jenna [01:21:57] You know what you can’t see when you play that clip is that at the end of that scene, Sandra, played by Pam, gives Golden Face a kiss on his cheek.
Angela [01:22:07] Yeah. And in the shooting draft, it’s said, After this scene plays, you cut back to real time in the conference room and Jim and Pam are holding hands, enjoying the scene, remembering what that meant to them.
Jenna [01:22:22] I mean, Pam got to kiss Jim’s cheek in front of Roy!
Angela [01:22:25] I know!
Jenna [01:22:27] Wow. Back in the movie, Michael Scarn has taken to the ice. I really love the detail that Michael tells us in the conference room, which is that he filmed this during an actual Scranton High School hockey game and that it was kind of a big deal because they were trying to qualify. And then the team got disqualified because Michael messed things up.
Angela [01:22:49] Yeah. He ruined all of their dreams of, like, going on and winning a championship.
Jenna [01:22:56] They had had an undefeated season up until now.
Angela [01:22:58] Yeah. Yeah. And they were disqualified because this idiot took to the ice to film his movie.
Jenna [01:23:03] Well, the actual location of the shoot was at the Valencia Ice Station, and all of those people were extras that we hired. Of course.
Angela [01:23:12] It’s a big production.
Jenna [01:23:14] It really was.
Angela [01:23:15] Cherokee Jack is going to revisit Scarn from the dead? Is he a ghost?
Jenna [01:23:19] Yeah.
Angela [01:23:20] Yeah. And he’s going to tell Scarn to take out all of his frustrations on that hockey puck. And Scarn hits it so hard that it flies into space.
Jenna [01:23:30] It hits a satellite.
Angela [01:23:31] Yeah. All of a sudden, Billy’s TV works again.
Jenna [01:23:34] And then it eventually lands in the lap of Golden Face, who’s sitting in his backyard? Counting a suitcase full of money.
Angela [01:23:44] Yeah, he’s in a lawn chair counting money.
Jenna [01:23:48] Where did the money come from?
Angela [01:23:50] I don’t know. But he goes, Oh shit (BLEEP).
Jenna [01:23:54] Oh. Oh, standards and practices, lady.
Angela [01:23:58] Lip flap!
Jenna [01:23:58] Here were the notes from Standards and Practices. Scene 86. Please lose the underlined or have the explosion start sooner when we see the puck land on Golden Face’s lap and he says, Oh shhhh-. And they underlined the shhhh.
Angela [01:24:18] Somebody was like, Listen, they’re not going to take us seriously unless you underline it.
Jenna [01:24:22] It’s in bold! They put it in bold, too.
Angela [01:24:25] Here’s my other note. Make it bold. Underline it. Do you have a highlighter? Highlight it. Put an arrow by it.
Jenna [01:24:30] So that’s why we can see John’s mouth go into the shhh. We were allowed that silent lip flap, but the explosion had to go off before we heard him make the sound.
Angela [01:24:42] Underline it.
Jenna [01:24:44] Exactly.
Angela [01:24:45] Well, the location of this scene was our very own Tom Melby’s backyard.
Jenna [01:24:49] I recognized it immediately.
Angela [01:24:51] Me too, right away.
Jenna [01:24:52] He lived in a house right behind our stages.
Angela [01:24:56] Yeah, we’ve talked about it. He had a little swing, and I’d walk over there with Isabel on my lunch. Well, everyone cheers. Scarn has saved the day!
Jenna [01:25:05] It’s amazing. He’s back at his house. He’s having breakfast. And the president calls again. He has another mission for Scarn.
Angela [01:25:17] Should he choose to accept. Also one side note.
Jenna [01:25:20] Yes?
Angela [01:25:21] He realizes, oh, yeah, he did make Dwight a robot.
Jenna [01:25:23] Yes. Because there is a scene of him oiling his circuit board. And as the movie comes to an end, the narrator- it’s been Stanley’s voice this whole time.
Angela [01:25:34] Plot twist.
Jenna [01:25:35] That voice is coming out of Michael Scarn. He is Michael Scarn. He’s been narrating his own story.
Angela [01:25:44] The whole time.
Jenna [01:25:46] The office erupts in cheers. It’s a huge hit. Everybody loved Threat Level Midnight.
Angela [01:25:52] Yeah, it was a pretty fun day at the office.
Jenna [01:25:55] You know, the episode ends with the sort of end credits for the movie and the theme song of Threat Level Midnight that we talked about with B.J.. I thought it was really cute on the DVD, this is how that song is credited. It says Theme from Threat Level Midnight, Music and Lyrics by Michael Scott, performed by Andrew Bernard, inspired by the music of Will Smith. I just love when Michael always gives credit to who inspired him.
Angela [01:26:25] Well, on the DVD, B.J. and Charlie talked about this final rap at the end, and Charlie wrote it, and B.J. said he remembered that Charlie wrote it in what seemed to be like 5 minutes.
Jenna [01:26:37] It just flowed. Well, at the end of the credits, there was going to be an additional tag of Dwight as Samuel coming in and telling you to go home. Go home! The movie is over. Like at the end of Ferris Bueller.
Angela [01:26:52] Yeah.
Jenna [01:26:52] But we didn’t have time.
Angela [01:26:54] It’s really cute, though. It’s in the extended cut.
Jenna [01:26:57] Well, that was our breakdown of Threat Level Midnight. But I do have one more little tidbit to share, Angela.
Angela [01:27:02] Mm hmm.
Jenna [01:27:03] Last year, there was a band called The Network who appeared on The Tonight Show, and they performed a song called Threat Level Midnight.
Angela [01:27:11] Oh, yeah?
Jenna [01:27:13] The Network is a new wave band, but they are a side project of the rock band Green Day!
Angela [01:27:20] Oh, Billie Joe, our best friend. Your best friend. I’m kind of glomming on now.
Jenna [01:27:26] You hung out!
Angela [01:27:26] I met him. We hung out. We had a really nice conversation.
Jenna [01:27:30] The three of us are basically best friends now, Angela.
Angela [01:27:33] In your mind.
Jenna [01:27:34] We have a photo to prove it. Well, put it in stories, because I’m dying to prove our friendship. But anyway, it’s a really fun song. And actually, when they went to release this, Billie Joe texted me this song out of nowhere with no context. I didn’t even know he had started watching The Office yet. It’s really catchy and my family listens to it all the time, so I thought maybe we could end this episode by playing it.
Angela [01:28:00] Let’s hear it. Threat Level Midnight by The Network.
Jenna [01:28:03] Yes. (SONG PLAYS) Well, there you have it, guys. That’s Threat Level Midnight. A big thank you to B.J. Novak for joining us today.
Angela [01:28:27] Yes. And Randy Cordray for all the behind the scenes details, and you guys for sending in your questions and comments. Thanks so much.
Jenna [01:28:35] See you next week! Thank you for listening to Office Ladies. Office Ladies is produced by Earwolf. Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey. Our show is executive produced by Codi Fischer. Our producer is Cassi Jerkins. Our sound engineer is Sam Kieffer. And our associate producer is Aynsley Bubbico.
Angela [01:28:59] Our theme song is Rubber Tree by Creed Bratton. For ad free versions of Office Ladies, go to Stitcher premium com for a free one month trial of Stitcher Premium Use Code. Office.
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