Parks and Rec: Leslie's New Competition, Tom and Ann's Future and a Visit from Anna Faris?
As Super Tuesday drew to a close, the candidate on everyone's mind at Parks and Recreation's PaleyFest event was Pawnee City Council hopeful Leslie Knope.
There are only a few weeks left in the NBC comedy's fictional campaign, but the race could go either way. Two endings were shot for the season finale — one in which Mouse Rat performs "Catch Your Dream" and the other in which they sing "Screw Your Dream" (you get the idea). "For a long time, we didn't know what it was going to be," star and producer Amy Poehler told TVGuide.com at Tuesday's event, which featured a panel moderated by TV Guide Magazine's Michael Schneider. "To deliver both of those endings was really touching. It's been a really amazing year, so when Leslie gives campaign speeches about how hard we've all worked, it's easy to relate to." No matter what, producers promise a winner will be announced.
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So what else is ahead for the Knope 2012 campaign and the parks department? Here's the nine best spoilers from the panel:
1. Knope and Newport aren't the only names on the ticket. Up until now, the race for Pawnee City Council has been focused squarely on Leslie and the heir to the Sweetums throne. But Episode 20, written and directed by Poehler, will focus completely on the debate between the five — yes, five — candidates. Also in the running are a porn star, an animal lover and a gun advocate named Fester Trimm, played by Friday Night Lights' Brad Leland. Look for another politician to show up — Glee's fictional Ohio congressman Burt Hummell (aka Mike O'Malley) — who will play the owner of a "crummy van rental place," Schur said.
2. Ben and Leslie are built to last! Executive producer Mike Schur said that the original plan for the show formerly known as The Education of Leslie Knope was to give Leslie a series of significant relationships, with her moving from boyfriend to boyfriend. However, once Ben and Leslie got together, Schur knew, "Oh, God. We can't break them up." Added Poehler: "Ben is the love of Leslie's life."
3. But Tom and Ann are not. The show's producers are well aware that not everyone is rooting for Pawnee's new odd couple to beat the odds. "Some people don't like it and some people do. I think it's just funny and that it's worth doing," producer Dean Holland said. "Tom's charming and then he screws up and then they break up. That's the purpose of it — [it's] this pure comedy relationship that should never get more involved than that."
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4. Jean-Ralphio may be back. Has Tom's ex-business partner recovered after the failure of Entertainment 720? Viewers may soon find out — if there's time. Schur said Ben Schwartz, who currently stars on Showtime's House of Lies, shot one scene, but he doesn't know yet if it will make it in on the air. If Retta has a say in the matter, Jean-Ralphio will also have a new lady love. "I do want Donna to have a secret relationship with Jean-Ralphio," she said. "I want her to be like, 'Don't talk to me in public. Don't tell anybody. It's on.'"
5. Will we meet Donna's famous cuz? After establishing that Donna is related to R&B royalty, Retta is optimistic that her character's cousin, singer Ginuwine, will make a pit stop in Pawnee sometime soon. "If they can work it out, they'd love for him to come. He was nice enough to send his gold records and all that stuff to set," she said.
6. Ron is safe ... for now. According to producers, we've seen the last of the Tammys for this season. There is a one episode-per-year rule now in place because "we don't want to overplay it," Schur said. But rest assured: They will be back at some point.
The West Wing's Bradley Whitford to guest-star on Parks and Rec
7. Chris will, literally, hit rock bottom. OK, not literally, but the health nut's recent downward spiral will reach new lows in the final four episodes of the season. Luckily, Schur said that once Chris hits bottom, he'll start to figure out what he wants to do to get out of his funk.
8. Josh Lyman lives! Few details were revealed about who Rob Lowe's former West Wing co-star, Bradley Whitford, will play during his guest spot, but there will be plenty of nods to their former show. Whitford's episode will open with an Aaron Sorkin-style walk-and-talk, and Whitford will utter a signature Josh-ism during the episode.
9. Bring your wife to work day. While Parks and Rec hasn't technically been renewed for a fifth season yet, Chris Pratt is already working on a very special guest should the series return — his wife, actress Anna Faris. "She wants to do it. Everyone on the show wants her to do it," he says. "We've thrown around some ideas. We don't know if she's going to be Leslie's sister or some former Miss Pawnee. Maybe she just has a million pugs." Suggestion to the writers: How about all of the above?
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.