Pharos-Tribune

Breaking News

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
  • NWS-PT040714 Hogsett mug.jpg The job? Guarding public trust INDIANAPOLIS -- Joe Hogsett was being vetted for the job of U.S. Attorney four years ago when he asked a federal judge for advice. That judge observed that there hadn't been a high-profile public corruption case in the southern district of Indiana s

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flood Insurance Indiana [Duplicate] Indiana braces for flood insurance subsidy changes INDIANAPOLIS -- Thousands of Indiana homeowners who live in flood-prone neighborhoods are bracing for insurance premium increases, despite Congress' latest fix for the government's debt-saddled flood insurance program. More than 13,300 Indiana homeow

    March 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS-PT031714 Wolkins mug.jpg Zooming through: Rules on mo-peds headed to governor's desk INDIANAPOLIS -- Rep. Dave Wolkins could only oppose mo-ped regulations for so long, as more bikes zipped along the roads and were involved in an increasing number of accidents. So Wolkins -- who spent five years fighting to keep Indiana among the few

    March 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prison inmates part of new Legion post TERRE HAUTE -- Wearing khaki-colored matching uniforms, more than 20 veterans inside a maximum-security prison stood tall to salute the flag of the United States at an event that welcomed them as new American Legion members. These men, inmates at the

    March 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT031414 beer alcohol.jpg Old ban on beer booze level may be tapped out INDIANAPOLIS -- Loughmiller's Pub across from the Statehouse is a favorite hangout for legislators and lobbyists who like the tavern's menu of gourmet burgers and craft beers. State police are regular lunch customers, as are state officials who regul

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indiana House leader: Tax, preschool deals near INDIANAPOLIS -- Republican leaders working on a series of last-minute compromises on top-tier issues of tax cuts, preschool and road funding announced Tuesday they were close to final agreements. "I say agreement in principle because we still have to

    March 12, 2014

  • Same-sex couples sue state over ban LOUISVILLE -- Erin Brock says she's prepared to fight to have her love legally recognized by the state of Indiana. Brock and her fiancé Melissa Love share a home and children in Jeffersonville and are one of four same-sex couples from Southern Indian

    March 10, 2014

  • Ivy Tech's $83M wish list meets skeptical audience INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Ivy Tech Community College says it needs $83 million more from the state so it can double its enrollment and graduation rates and help the state meet its own goal of increasing the number of Indiana residents with post-high-schoo

    March 9, 2014

  • Bill ends automatic license suspensions for many crimes INDIANAPOLIS -- Unpaid parking fines, falling behind on child support, drunken driving: So many offenses trigger a suspended driver's license in Indiana that more than a half-million Hoosiers have lost their driving privileges. In fact, driving on a

    March 7, 2014

  • NWS-PT030314 Zionsville bus.jpg Rolling billboards: Legislation may create pilot program INDIANAPOLIS — Cash hungry schools may start selling ads on the sides of buses to make up millions of dollars lost because of property tax caps. Legislation moving through the General Assembly would create a pilot program allowing a few districts to

    March 3, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs
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.