Tuesday, January 13 marks the premiere of the seventh and final season of “Parks and Recreation.”
In leading lady Amy Poehler’s recently published memoir, “Yes Please,” she describes the moment she fell in love with her character Leslie Knope.
Prepare to have your heart melted.
In early 2008, Poehler was readying to leave “Saturday Night Live.”
Michael Schur, who cut his teeth in the writing room of 30 Rockefeller Center and went on to write and produce the American reboot of “The Office,” called to ask if she was interested in working on a show that he and producer Greg Daniels were creating.
At the time, the series — still a nebulous idea — was rumoured to be an “Office” spinoff. They talked vaguely of concepts, and agreed that it would be fun to work together.
By the time the series’ premise came together, Poehler was pregnant. Schur decided to pitch her anyway. “Greg’s and my general feeling was: Poehler or bust, pregnancy be damned,” he writes in the footnotes of Poehler’s book.
Schur called again, this time from the balcony of his house while chain-smoking. Poehler writes:
“He told me about a character he and Greg created called Leslie Knope. She was an extremely low-level Parks and Recreation Department employee who had big dreams. She was inspired by the ‘Yes We Can’ spirit of Obama’s recent election. She believed that it only took one person to make a difference. She wanted to effect change, she wanted to someday be president, but most importantly, she wanted to turn an empty parking lot in her town into a park.”
Soon after Poehler received the script, she said “it took five minutes to realise Leslie Knope was the best character ever written for me.”
After a long discussion with then-husband Will Arnett, she moved her family out to Los Angeles and shot six episodes in a row. “Parks and Recreation” went on to become one of the most beloved female-lead comedies of the last decade, earning five Emmy nominations.
Looking back at Leslie’s journey, Schur reflects, “It’s so interesting to think about it this way, now, as we near the end — it was, at the beginning, really that simple: a woman who wanted to make something out of nothing.”
The final season of “Parks and Recreation” premieres Tuesday, January 13 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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