News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

December 4, 2012

NBC’s ‘Parks and Rec’ meets real politics in Indiana shoot

Newt Gingrich written into show when he stops for lunch at filming site

INDIANAPOLIS — What do you do when a political celebrity shows up for impromptu lunch at a landmark restaurant where the cast and crew of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” are shooting a scene?

You ask him if he wants in on the action and then, on the spot, you write up a cameo role.

That’s what happened Monday when former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich unexpectedly walked into St. Elmo’s Steak House in downtown Indianapolis as actor Rob Lowe and his male co-stars were filming a scene for an upcoming episode of the popular sitcom based in fictional Pawnee, Ind.

“This is wild,” said actor Adam Scott, as Gingrich passed by on his way to makeup.

It’s Scott’s character, Ben Wyatt, who’s the reason why Hollywood had taken over much of the iconic steakhouse: St. Elmo’s is the scene of Ben’s big bachelor party in Indianapolis, thrown by his steak-loving co-worker, Ron Swanson, and attended by some of the civil servants who populate Pawnee’s city hall. (Ironically, Scott’s character has recently returned from a job on Capitol Hill.)

Gingrich had stopped by the restaurant, not knowing of the film shoot, on his way to an appointment with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

“I think he’s one of the finest leaders in government today,” said Gingrich, who’s writing a book on leadership and said Daniels will be a part of it.

The Gingrich sighting was proof to the Parks and Recreation cast and crew that Lowe — who has deep Indiana roots — knew what he was talking about when he told them that St. Elmo’s was THE place to be.

“Rob loves Indianapolis and he loves this place,” said the show’s producer Morgan Sackett, who, along with his co-workers, labor to get the Indiana details just right.

That’s why Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, wasn’t the only politician who stopped by the restaurant during the shoot. So, too, did Brian Bosma, the Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives and an attorney who specializes in municipal law.

A year ago, Bosma got a call from somebody who said he was with NBC and wanted Bosma to consult with the “Parks and Recreation” writers to give them guidance on how state and local government works in Indiana.

“I thought it was some of my pals at the Statehouse playing a joke,” Bosma said.

It wasn’t. Bosma was indeed hired by NBC to offer advice for a story line involving the show’s star, Amy Poehler, who plays Leslie Knope, a Pawnee parks department staff member who runs for the Pawnee city council.

“I asked for a cameo role, but they turned me down,” said Bosma.

He did, though, get a chance to meet Lowe, who plays a character who was once a state auditor and now is the Pawnee city manager. Lowe’s father grew up in Anderson, Ind., and his grandparents lived in Madison County.

Lowe, who earned his star power playing a White House staff member on the TV series “West Wing,” said he signed on for “Parks and Recreation” in part because of its Indiana connection. The show offers a satirical look at government bureaucracy through the eyes of some earnest Hoosier civil servants.

“My family is all from Indiana,” said Lowe — with the golly-gee enthusiasm of his character Chris Traeger —  adding that he recently discovered that his great-great grandfather served as a Indiana volunteer in the Civil War.

“I have such affection for this state and for the way we portray its people on the show,” Lowe said.

“It was one of the reasons why I was so attracted to the show,” he continued. “As a Midwesterner, I know how Hollywood really gets our part of the county wrong. I think this show really gets it right in a lot of ways. Obviously we do it with a lot of spoof and satire, but Pawnee, Indiana, comes across as an authentic place and a place of love.”

Speaking of love: following the St. Elmo shoot, the crew and cast were off to shoot another scene at Lucas Oil Stadium, so actor Chris Pratt, who plays Andy Dwyer on the show, could get full use of his Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck jersey. That shoot was arranged by Lowe’s friend, Colts’ owner Jim Irsay.

The “Parks and Recreation” team had flown into town Sunday, just as the Colts were making a come-from-behind touchdown with 4 seconds left to beat the Detroit Lions.

“The whole plane erupted in cheers,” said Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson. “We knew we were in the right place.”

Maureen Hayden is the Indiana Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI, the parent company of the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine Today in History for July 25th Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity