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State News

December 3, 2012

Rob Lowe digs into his Indiana roots

INDIANAPOLIS — Actor Rob Lowe didn’t just bring his boyish good looks and Emmy-winning star power to the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” when he joined the ensemble cast two years ago.

He also brought some Hoosier sentimentality.

Though raised in Ohio after his parents divorced, Lowe, 48, still claims connection to Indiana through his father, Charles "Chuck" Lowe, who grew up in Anderson; his grandparents who for many years lived in Madison County, and his great-great-grandfather who fought as an Indiana volunteer for the Union Army in the Civil War.

“My roots are in Indiana,” said Lowe, during a break in filming on location at an Indiana landmark: the 1902-built St. Elmo’s Steak House in downtown Indianapolis.

Lowe and the male cast members from the popular sitcom set in the fictional town of Pawnee, Ind., spent Monday shooting at least two scenes for an episode to air in January. One was at St. Elmo’s, a classic steakhouse, and the other was Lucas Oil Stadium, home to his favorite NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts.

The night before the shoot, Lowe sent out a tweet saying he was dining in Indy, adding: “Love this place.” And he’s convinced that fans of the show have come to love Indiana — or at least a version of it portrayed by the sometimes clueless but always earnest characters that populate Pawnee.

“How can you not love everybody in Pawnee,” said Lowe, who plays the eagerly enthusiastic Pawnee city manager on the show. “How can you not root for everybody in Pawnee?”

The show pokes fun at government bureaucracy, while retaining both humor and affection for the workers who occupy it, which is why Lowe likes the show so much. The characters, he said, are appealing because they see and embrace what he called the “drama and heroism” of finding the good in government and making it work.

“That’s great fodder for entertainment,” said Lowe, who won an Emmy for his role on TV’s “West Wing,” playing an earnest White House staff member who also found the good in government and made it work.

There are other Hoosier connections to the show: Co-creator Mike Schur’s mother was born in Indiana and his wife went to school at the University of Notre Dame. Actor Jim O’Heir, who plays the often-befuddled Jerry Gergich, grew up in a small town that straddled the Illinois-Indiana border and he worked as a disc jockey at a radio station in the small town of Rensselaer, where he read the hog reports every morning. “I’m proud of that,” O’Heir said. “I don’t need to be known as a big-city boy.”

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