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The Dunder-Mifflin 'Office' closes shop: Show producer on remaking Scranton in LA

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The original cast of "The Office."
The original cast of "The Office."

KPCC spoke with 'The Office' Producer Steve Burgess on what it was like turning a huge sunny city like L.A. into a small, former coal-mining community more than 2,300 miles away,

Tonight, after eight years, the hit NBC show "The Office" is finally coming to an end. 

Dwight, Pam, Jim, Andy, Kevin, Creed, Darryl, and the rest of the show's motley cast will come together one last time in tonight's finale, airing at 8 p.m. PST.  The show is set at the Dunder-Mifflin paper company, located in Scranton, Penn., even though much of the series was shot right here in Southern California.

For what it was like turning a huge sunny city like L.A. into a small, former coal-mining community more than 2,300 miles away, Take Two spoke with one of The Office's producers, Steve Burgess. 

Interview Highlights:

How did you make Southern California look like Scranton?
"Strangely enough it doesn't really look like Scranton. Scranton is actually fairly beautiful and has a lot of really nice architecture. We shot a lot around Los Angeles, and what we tried to do is find parts of Los Angeles that didn't have palm trees, that had not really Southern California looking architecture, like red tile roofs and stucco buildings. There are a lot of beautifully landscapes areas that look a lot like Pennsylvania if they don't have palm trees."

But isn't it hard to avoid palm trees in LA?
"It is we actually electronically removed palm trees when we did see them, so our visual effects department removed palm trees almost every week. 

Where is the Dunder-MIfflin warehouse located?
The building and the warehouse are actually on a soundstage in Van Nuys. Chandler Valley studios has been our home for the last eight years, the first year they shot in an actual office in Culver City. For the last eight years, this is finishing the 9th season. Its an actual soundstage where we built an entire office and warehouse on." 

How did you maintain a northeast feel given our weather here?
"It becomes difficult to shoot in the rain, but any time during the winter when it is raining in California we try to shoot in the rain, to try to give that northeastern part of the country feel to it. We've also for all of our Christmas episodes we have snowed in our parking lot, I know a lot of the fans have seen snowdrifts and things in the parking lot, which really is in California. We bring in tons of ice and an ice chipper and they spray shaved ice all over our parking lot. We try to beat the heat, one of our Christmas episodes was shot when it was 100 degrees out and we had our cast in overcoats. As soon as we hit the pavement with the ice it would melt, but we kept putting more ice down and eventually it looks pretty snowed it."

Can you tell us about some Scranton-specific details in the show?
"The most famous of the Scranton detail is the Froggy 101 sticker that was on Dwight's desk, which is a real country station in Scranton. Basically, when the show was set in Scranton, the Chamber of Commerce and the Scranton businesses have been such a great help to The Office and they send us real business knick-knacks. So all the stuff on the desks, all the magnets on the refrigerator in the kitchen, are all from real Scranton businesses and they've been nice enough to help us out in allowing us to use their names when we mention a steakhouse names Carl Von Lugers, there's a real Carl Von Luger's in Scranton"

What did the city of Scranton think about having "The Office" set in their city?
"I think in the beginning, Scranton was nervous we were going to make fun of the town and they were a little bit leery of helping us to portray Scranton, but then as they found throughout the years that we really didn't make fun of Scranton, one of our story lines was the Jim and Pam storyline of Jim moving to Philly and Pam not wanting to leave Scranton and last week we found out that Jim moved back to Scranton and loves it there. So we actually portrayed Scranton as a pretty cool place to be. It seems that Scranton was happy to have us set there."

What was your favorite episode?
"One of my favorite episodes was Jim and Pam's wedding in Niagara. It was mostly shot on location here around Southern California...It was a challenge to make it look like Niagara Falls, but what we did is we sent John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer with a small crew to Niagara Falls because we actually shot the ceremony on the Maid of the Mistic boat as it traveled under the falls."

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