By Barry Wolborsky
It was a great day in Scranton: Warm, sunny — and glowing from a surprise visit by Michael Scott.
Favorite faces from the Dunder Mifflin branch that put the town on the pop culture map — including an unannounced Steve Carell joining in at the end of the day — gathered here with the behind-the-scenes creative team to commemorate the end of the long-running comedy with their ”neighbors” — about 10,000 of them, according to AP’s crowd estimate.
The day of good feelings began with the writers’ Q&A, where the tone was bittersweet and emotional. Creator and executive producer Greg Daniels expressed his gratitude at being able to say good-bye in the city that has become synonymous with the show. Some choice tidbits shared:
– When John Krasinski was first cast for the pilot, he drove through Scranton, interviewing locals for research. On that trip, he shot the video that ultimately would be used for the show’s opening titles.
– Daniels rhapsodized about the ”actor power” of John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer as they re-created Jim and Pam’s wedding for the recent episode ”Paper Airplane.” He said watching the scene unfold gave him ”chills and fever.”
Next, the town threw a parade for its honored guests, including the cast members who showed their affection for the fans and people of Scranton. When a fan asked for a kiss, Phyllis Smith ran from her car to deliver it. Oscar Nunez opened his arms for a hug from a fan. Brian Baumgartner good-naturedly invited fans into his convertible to ride with him. Fischer and Krasinski signed autographs, talked with fans, and posed for pictures for the length of the parade route.
At parade’s end, the cast took the stage to greet and entertain the packed square. Backed by the Scrantones, the actors put on a karaoke-like concert, performing favorites like ”Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” ”Don’t Stop Believin’,” ”Roxanne,” and ”Billie Jean,” showcasing Oscar Nunez’s sweet dance moves that would rival the King of Pop’s.
To cap off the celebration, the fans flocked to nearby PNC Field for one last blowout. Andy Buckley (a.k.a., “David Wallace” of Dunder Mifflin) moderated a panel with Rainn Wilson, Ellie Kemper, Craig Robinson, Creed Bratton, Paul Lieberstein, Kate Flannery, Nunez, Smith, Fischer, and Baumgartner, who shared that high-flying chest-bump with Krasinski pictured above. After series boss Daniels joined the group, the crowd went wild when Steve Carell made his surprise appearance. It felt like a true homecoming for Carell, who smiled warmly and waved to fans throughout the evening. The rest of the cast seemed just as happy to see their old ”boss.”
Watching the cast members interact was a real treat. Their affection for each other was obvious as they joked and laughed during the Q&A session. The actors, joined by the writers and producers, chuckled along with the crowd at a blooper reel of the past nine seasons and the first ten minutes of the show’s penultimate episode. As the evening drew to a close, the shared sentiment from each of the actors was just how much the show and fans had changed their lives.
Finally, cast and crew joined hands and took a final bow. Then, led by Carell, they exited the field, high-fiving fans. The mutual affection between the creators and cast of The Office, its fans, and the city of Scranton was made real.