Originally posted Friday, February 21, 2020 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
When “The Office” ended its ninth season in 2013, it was already a beloved TV show where a workplace became a family, romances sprouted and fireable offenses were shrugged off.
But thanks to repeats in syndication on Comedy Central and millions of hours of streaming on Netflix, the show has become even bigger, a ready source of memes, GIFs and “that’s what she said” one liners. Angela Kinsey (Angela) and Jenna Fischer (Pam) recently started a weekly podcast called “Office Ladies” that immediately zoomed to the top 15 of all podcasts on Apple.
Kate Flannery, who played party gal Meredith on “The Office,” recently performed on “Dancing With the Stars” and came in seventh. She will be the celebrity host and dancer on the “Dancing With the Stars Live” tour, which comes to the Fox Theatre Thursday at 8 p.m. (Buy tickets here.)
Her personal love for “The Office” has not waned since the show wrapped.
“It’s become a culture,” Flannery said in a recent interview. “People are leaving it on all day. They tell me they literally fall asleep to me every night. It’s awesome. It’s like a very smart show and the kids dig it. And you can subtly watch it over and over again and catch things you missed the first time.”
Several “Office” alums such as Oscar Martinez (Oscar), Westminster grad Brian Baumgartner (Kevin) and Andy Buckley (David Wallace) showed up at the “Dancing With the Stars” tapings when she danced and she appreciated the support.
“We worked together for nine seasons,” Flannery said. “You can’t untie that bond.”
Flannery said she committed to doing 54 of the 80 live “Dancing With the Stars” dates. “I didn’t realize how much I was saying yes to,” she said.
Not that live shows are foreign to her. She has toured multiple times with her friend Jane Lynch, who released a Christmas album a few years ago. “But this is a lot longer and more physical than I’m used to,” she said. “The fans are insane. They’re so dedicated and wonderful.”
Reflecting on her age, 55, she said her energy level can’t match that of the pro dancers, who are decades younger. “It’s a very intense show,” she said. “I need my rest on the road. I can’t party. I need to take care of myself. No drinking! I sound like the complete opposite of Meredith!” (She said folks in airports and restaurants offer her free drinks all the time because of her character’s love for the booze. “It’s usually a nice perk,” Flannery said.)
Flannery said despite the hard work while taping the ABC reality competition show, she enjoyed it.
“It definitely forced me into great physical shape,” she said. “And Pasha [Pashkov, her dance partner] was incredible. He’s also a huge fan of ‘The Office.’ He’s seen every episode!”
She said once she got used to the practice routine, she steadily improved. During week six, the judges gave her 9s out of 10 across the board for her elegant Viennese waltz.
But unlike comedy, she quickly realized there is no improv in ballroom dance.
“During a dress rehearsal for the second episode, I started to do something I felt was really good. I felt confident. But then Pasha told me, ‘You can’t do that! You can’t do something different than me!’”
Flannery loved that this helped her expand as an artist. “I was completely out of my comfort zone and it felt crazy good in the end,” she said.
She also feels like doing “Dancing With the Stars” disproved the idea she can’t do certain things anymore because she’s too old. “Sometimes I’d think, ‘That ship has sailed!’ I was on a dock and a boat was waiting for me,” she said. “I’m speaking for everybody: don’t take yourself out. So I’m a late bloomer as a dancer. Why not?”
She ended up with a small fracture in a rib after the Halloween dance but worked through the pain. “My dad is in his 90s and has major knee pain,” Flannery said. “He just gets up every day and moves no matter what. It makes you feel better. It’s weird. It goes against your normal thinking. You have to retrain your brain.”
Flannery admitted she was a little bummed that former White House communications chief and significantly worse dancer Sean Spicer finished ahead of her, courtesy of his aggressive lobbying efforts on social media and TV.
“I think I’m cooler,” she said. “I’m way more fun.” Then she paused. “Not that he’s UN-fun.”
IF YOU GO
“Dancing With the Stars Live 2020”
8 p.m. Thursday, February 27, 2020
660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta
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