In anticipation of tongiht’s much-anticipated fourth season premiere of PARKS AND RECREATION, theTVaddict.com thought now might be as good a time as any to run our brief one-one-one that was hilarious interrupted by Pawnee’s own Aziz Ansari at the recent Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles. So just what did Schur have to say about Ben’s backstory, Leslie’s political aspirations and the single biggest thing he’s excited about fans seeing on the upcoming fourth season of the hit NBC comedy. Find out for yourself, after the jump.
I wanted to start off by asking about Adam Scott’s wonderkid Ben Wyatt. Seeing how much you yourself have accomplished in your relatively short time, I’m curious if the character of Ben was at all inspired by your success in the industry?
Mike Schur: Oh God No! The Adam Scott character was modelled on that story every five years where a guy gets elected mayor at 18. Actually, it was an early candidate for what Leslie’s backstory might be, when Greg [Daniels] and I were developing the show one of the ideas we had was that Leslie was the mayor of the town and had failed and was trying to build herself back up. But we got rid of that idea because it was a little too high concept, but for a new character like Ben [Adam Scott] we though that works perfectly.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Ben’s character is the town that Ben left, do you think we’ll ever get to see his former place of residence?
Mike Schur: Well, we’ve talked about that, like a weird road trip back to his town where he screwed up so badly but I’m not sure. There is something to be said for that just being part of Be’s mythology or backstory. He didn’t drop a bomb on the town, we’re not talking post-apocalyptic deer roaming in the streets, that didn’t happen, but I don’t know maybe, season 21.
The phrase ‘live action version of THE SIMPSONS’ seems to be popping up more and more in the media in terms of characterizing PARKS AND RECREATION’s ever-expanding character base. What is your reaction to such high praise and was creating a real world around the Parks and Rec department always part of your original plan?
Mike Schur: I wouldn’t say that we ever said out loud, we should make a live action version of THE SIMPSONS, but as we were talking about the idea, the idea became more and more about creating an entire town with a government, a media, citizen committees, personalities, local celebrities, Springfield is the obvious analog, but you never, you’d be crazy at any point to say out loud the words “We’re going to create a live action Springfield,” that’s a lunatic idea. That show is doing its 500th episodes, it’s animated and they’ve have been building that city up for 20 years so that was never our goal. But, I have to say anytime anyone says it to me I get completely overwhelmed with joy and an thrilled that anyone would think that because to me that’s the most important comedy show maybe ever and being mentioned in the same idea, sentence or paragraph of THE SIMPSONS is incredibly fulfilling.
Heading into this season Leslie has a huge decision to make in terms of running for office or maintaining a relationship with Ben. Is it a challenge writings characters that have big hopes, dreams and aspirations, yet at the same time having to keep them tied down to this quiet little town?
Mike Schur: My thinking is that if you introduce a character who has big dreams, you kind of have to have them pursue their dreams. If you have a character you dreams big, like that guy right there.
[Mike Schur points to Aziz Ansari, who very quickly commandeers our interview]
Aziz Ansari: A couple of question, tell me what can we expect in Season 4 of PARKS AND RECREATION?
Mike Schur:Tom Haverford played by Aziz Ansari is revealed to be gay. He dates a very very large man, like a really large man, who’s very nice, they have a great relationship, but they’re very demonstrative. That’s kind of one of the early stories.
Aziz Ansari: I heard a rumor that he’s going to be played by Michael Clarke Duncan, is that true?
Mike Schur: Spoiler Alert! Yes Michael Clarke Duncan is Tom’s boyfriend and he’s amazing.
[Aziz Ansari exits]
Continues Mike Schur: The point is, is that I think if you have a character like Tom who dreams very big if you don’t have him pursue his dreams he starts to become sad. He’s a sad sack, he just sits around like The Iceman Cometh. I don’t want to do The Iceman Cometh the TV show. So you kind of owe it to the characters who have goals and dreams to let them pursue them and naturally play out where that goes and find ways to keep them in the world of that show without making them seem sad. So we kind of say, what’s the reality of this guy who wants to literally be Diddy, he lives in a small town, it’s probably not going to happen, but at least he’s got to try. So this season is at least in part about him trying and making his run with that dream.
And finally, is there any one single thing you’re most excited about having the fans see this season?
Mike Schur: I don’t know, I think we have a really good plan in terms of the long term arcs of the show and I think that very very big dramatic things are going to happen fairly frequently and we’re doing a lot of good topical episodes that are kind of about things that happened in the country recently. We’re weirdly breaking our Christmas episode and it’s going to be a really big Christmas episode so I just want people to watch it. I don’t have any one thing, i just want people to watch it. make them tune in.
PARKS AND RECREATION airs Thursdays at 8:30PM on NBC (CityTV in Canada) and stars Amy Poehler, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Adam Scott and Rob Lowe. Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv