TV show blogs allow characters to reach out to their fans

March 05, 2006|By CHUCK BARNEY | CHUCK BARNEY,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Dwight Schrute, the nerdy paper salesman played by Rainn Wilson on NBC's sitcom The Office, has an endless supply of off-the-wall opinions and he's not afraid to foist them on you.

He believes men are infinitely superior to women in oh so many ways ("Please don't be offended, feminists. I respect you and am attracted to you," he says). He is appalled by "wrongful or pretend illness" in the workplace. ("Only miss a day of work if your life depends on it.") And he even has some insightful theories on the adventure series Lost. ("Sawyer is way cooler than Dr. Jack and could kick his doctor [behind] if they ever had a throw-down.")

What's interesting about these twisted Dwightisms is that they weren't spewed by Wilson during a scripted episode of The Office, but in a hilarious Web log called "Schrute-Space" on NBC's official Internet site for the series (blogs.nbc.com/office).

"On our show, the actors spend so much time at their computers for all those background shots, and I figured I needed something to do," Wilson says.

He's not alone. Eager to develop a more intimate relationship with fans, many TV shows have been supplementing their Web sites with blogs by producers, writers and actors. But the latest and most humorous trend is blogs penned in the voice of a character - usually a quirky sidekick type.

For example, Barney, the cad on the comedy How I Met Your Mother, offers dubious dating advice in "Barney's Blog" (cbs.com/primetime/how_I_met_your_mother/barneys_blog).

Dave, the conspiracy theorist on ABC's Invasion, vents his spleen in "Dave's Diatribe" (didyouseethelights.com). Even daytime TV is in on the act, as workaholic Dr. Robin Scorpio of General Hospital reaches out to viewers via "Robin's Daily Dose" (drrobinscorpio.com).

"Our fans are already so involved with these shows, and this is just one more way they can experience them," says Larry Terenzi, senior producer for ABC.com.

With the exception of "Schrute-Space," the character-driven blogs are not written by the actors who play them, but by members of a network's team.

"We more or less have a blog posse," says Craig Thomas, co-executive producer of How I Met Your Mother.

In some cases, blogs are natural offshoots of a show. In Invasion, for example, Dave is often seen working on a blog in which he tries to alert residents of Homestead, Fla., and beyond to an alien takeover.

As for Barney, his blog essentially came about by accident. The show's pilot episode featured a scene in which the sartorial-minded Barney (played by Neil Patrick Harris) is excited because his friend, Ted, has finally decided to "suit up" for a big date. "This is totally going in my blog!" Barney gushes. It got producers thinking.

Now visitors to "Barney's Blog" can solicit his advice on everything from essential items to take to a strip club ("fake movie producer business cards") to strategies for picking up bridesmaids ("You must move with the urgency and precision of a SWAT team"). No one said the guy was deep.

Wilson says he receives plenty of weird responses to "Schrute-Space," but apparently some of the writers are only looking to use him to get to Jim, the hunky character played by John Krasinski.

"I get a lot of lonely girls," Wilson reports. "They write things like, `Oh, Dwight, you're so cool. You're so funny. Can you introduce us to Jim? We looove Jim.' Normally, that might make Dwight jealous, but Dwight knows he's a better salesman than Jim and that's what really counts."

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