The Office
The B.J. Novak Interview

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"It Was Just So Intellectually Stimulating And Inspiring; It Was All I Wanted To Do"
WC: Not all the proximity to showbiz glamour? BJN: When I worked at Paramount, my first job here, I wandered into a Coke commercial. I thought it was a real carnival. And I was like, "L.A. is so nice!" I thought Paramount had thrown this free thing for local kids, you know? And I was walking through, and there were all these kids playing hopscotch, and cotton-candy vendors and pizza, and music, and somehow the guards had just let me walk right in. So I was in a Coke commercial. WC: That should have been the tip-off, the hopscotch. Kids don't play hopscotch anymore. BJN: Right! There were a lot of tip-offs, in retrospect. WC: Maybe the "Quiet on the set." BJN: And it was in little New York. "Wait a second. This is Brooklyn." WC: "It looks like Sesame Street." BJN: Exactly, it was just like Sesame Street. But I was so heartwarmed. I'd just moved to L.A., and I was like, "This town ain't so bad!" WC: But you didn't see yourself in the commercial later? BJN: No, I didn't look. WC: Ah. BJN: That would have been funny, though, 'cause John was in a Pepsi commercial later. WC: Ooh. Would have turned brother against brother. BJN: Yeah, good thing that didn't happen. Bad blood. WC: So you mentioned Lost -- what shows do you watch other than that? BJN: The Daily Show. House, I've gotten into recently. WC: Ooh, your former competitor. BJN: Yeah. I dissed House a little bit, but I hadn't seen it. Now I love House. I've only seen, like, three, but I've liked it. And South Park I think is just fantastic. I think Earl is really good whenever I can see it. That's all I can think of right now. I used to watch a lot of TV, but I'm weaning myself off now. WC: Do you find it's harder to watch it now that you make it? Like, you can see the seams, and it looks all crappy? BJN: Our show? WC: NO! No, other shows! BJN: I feel that way about movies sometimes. I think that really good television is at a higher level than a lot of movies. I think they haven't had that big clearing house that reality TV was, where it was like, "Okay, we don't like this kind of crap that's imitating other crap that's imitating other crap. We're going to show you how people really are for two years. There'll be nothing else on the air but videos showing actual people, and then you can start again, with television imitating real life." Movies haven't had that, I guess, because you see a comedy in the theatres, and they're hitting these familiar beats that have nothing to do with real people's experience or making fun of things that are really in people's lives. And I think, you know, The Office, Earl, South Park, the shows I mentioned are kind of more based in the real rhythms of conversation and stuff. So it's actually a little harder to watch movies, working on TV.

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The Office

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