Pharos-Tribune

State News

December 3, 2012

'Parks and Recreation' meets real politics in Indiana shoot

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 stop-by 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, Charles "Chuck" Lowe, 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, adding — with the golly-gee enthusiasm of his character Chris Traeger — that he recently discovered that his great-great-grandfather served as an 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 country 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 last-seconds touchdown to win the game over 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 covers the Statehouse for the CNHI Statehouse Bureau. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
State News
  • Postal Service has 600 rural Indiana spots open INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service has openings for 600 part-time rural postal carriers across Indiana. The Postal Service announced the job openings Thursday in several ZIP Codes in the Greater Indiana District. It says interested applicant

    August 22, 2014

  • Hundreds attend vigil for missing SW Indiana women BOONVILLE (AP) — A few hundred people gathered at a prayer vigil for women missing in southwestern Indiana, including a 27-year-old mother of two children who was last seen nearly a week ago. Many in the crowd outside the Warrick County Courthouse in

    August 21, 2014

  • Family: 2013 crash that killed 7 was preventable MUNSTER (AP) — An Indiana woman who lost seven family members in a fiery highway crash last year says more needs to be done to ensure truck drivers are operating safely. Judith Williams said she believes the accident that killed her two daughters, th

    August 15, 2014

  • Man sentenced to 8 years in Gary man's killing CROWN POINT (AP) — A Gary man whose murder confession was thrown out because a police detective had told him he might not get a fair trial because he is black has been sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to reckless homicide. The

    August 15, 2014

  • Prosecutors seek life without parole for skipping shooter INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors have requested life without parole for a murder defendant caught on surveillance video skipping away from the fatal shooting of an Indianapolis convenience store clerk. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Th

    August 15, 2014

  • Suits in triple-slaying proceeds case move ahead NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) — A former Indiana state trooper shouldn't be allowed to claim all $626,000 in insurance and estate proceeds from the deaths of his wife and two children 14 years ago, even though he was acquitted of their murders, attorneys rep

    August 14, 2014

  • Indiana universities face cuts if tax intake lags INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's public universities could see their budgets cut another 2 percent if state tax collections continue lagging behind expectations. Gov. Mike Pence's budget director told members of the State Budget Committee Thursday that

    August 14, 2014

  • Purdue writing commercial dog breeding standards WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — The director of Purdue University's Center for Animal Welfare Science will lead a two-year research project to develop and test nationwide animal care standards for the commercial breeding and raising of dogs. Director Can

    August 14, 2014

  • No charges filed in deaths of Clydesdale horses HUNTINGTON (AP) — Northeastern Indiana prosecutors have decided not to file charges in a case where dead and malnourished Clydesdales were discovered on a horse farm. Huntington County Prosecutor Amy Richison says she could not file charges because n

    August 14, 2014

  • E. Indiana couple arrested for dealing steroids RUSHVILLE (AP) — An eastern Indiana couple are under arrest after what authorities broke up what they are calling the largest lab ever found in Indiana for producing anabolic steroids. Rushville Police Chief Craig Tucker says 39-year-old David Starke

    August 13, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Does Indiana need a statewide water management plan and an administrator to implement it?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Raw: Egypt Bus Crash Kills at Least 33 Two Bodies Found in Adjacent Yards Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Rescue Efforts Suspended at Japan Landslide Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Raw: Smaller Marches in Ferguson Marathon Suspect's Friend Pleads Guilty Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer Ky. Firefighters Hurt in Ice Bucket Challenge Federal Investigation Will Look at Use of Force Community Deals With Michael Brown Aftermath US: We Do Not Pay Ransom to Terrorists Ferguson Teachers Training to Deal With Trauma Jon Hamm on the Unrest in Ferguson Tit for Tat? McDonald's Shuttered in Moscow Life on the Professional Video Game Circuit
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.