Tag: Great

Jim O’Heir on the ‘Great’ COVID Reunion and ‘All It Takes’ To Bring the Cast Together

From the day Parks and Recreation went off the air in 2015, audiences have begged for a reunion or revival. They got just that in 2020, when a new episode, filmed entirely virtually, aired. Read on to learn what one star said about why the TV special worked so well, and what it would take for another one like it.

‘Parks and Recreation’ aired for 7 seasons on NBC

The hit NBC series premiered in 2009. It starred Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, an employee at her Indiana town’s Parks Department, and her interactions with her friends and staff. The popular cast also included Adam Scott, Chris Pratt, Retta, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Rashida Jones, and Jim O’Heir.

Parks and Rec came to a close after a successful seven seasons, allowing co-creator Mike Schur to end it on his terms. The cast has moved onto other notable roles in the years, but the show remains a fan-favorite, with many disappointed when it left Netflix for NBC’s streaming service, Peacock.

The cast reunited for a ‘Parks and Recreation Special’

'Parks and Recreation Special'
‘Parks and Recreation Special’ | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

After years of discussing revival possibilities (plus a reunion at PaleyFest 2019), the cast got together for something a little smaller: A Parks and Recreation Special. The 30-minute episode saw them return to their characters to raise money and provide relief during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We had no intention of doing that,” explained O’Heir in a 2020 interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “People are on our butts all the time [about a reunion].” After Schur and the cast agreed to do a table read, the creator came around with another idea. “He goes, ‘You guys, what if we do a new episode?’ And we were blown away.”

Jim O’Heir is ‘really proud’ of the 2020 episode

Jim O'Heir as Jerry Gergich in 'Parks and Recreation'
Jim O’Heir as Jerry Gergich in ‘Parks and Recreation’ | Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

RELATED: 5 Highlights From ‘A Parks and Recreation Special’

“I think it came out really well,” O’Heir continued of the episode, noting that they “raised over $5 million” for Feeding America. “People got to see what they love about each character that they’ve known and grown to love,” noted the actor of what he feels was “so smart about that reunion episode.”

Of course, it wasn’t just the main cast that fans enjoyed. O’Heir specifically called out recurring Parks and Rec stars like Jay Jackson (Perd Hapley) and Mo Collins (Joan Callamezzo, who he deemed “a pandemic mess.”) “I think it came out great,” O’Heir reiterated of the special. “We were really proud of it.

Why another reunion could happen in the future

Could there be another Parks and Rec reunion on the horizon? O’Heir says he would join if Schur comes up with another idea. “We always joke because people are like, well, it’d be so tough to get you guys together now because everyone’s got careers,” he said, specifically citing Pratt’s franchise

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Stay at the Luxury Hotel Where ‘The Great British Baking Show’ Was Shot

What 2020 championship season successfully navigated the Covid Era by requiring participants to live and compete in a rigorously maintained social bubble?

If you said the National Basketball Association, your answer is only half-baked.

Yes, the NBA hunkered down in an isolated community at Walt Disney World in Florida. But the contestants on the U.K.’s The Great British Bake Off, known in North America for obscure legal reasons as The Great British Baking Show, also spent their season in a bubble.  

Usually, the easy-to-watch show (don’t worry—there are no spoilers here) is set in a temporary tent on the grounds of Welford Park near Newbury, a 50-minute train ride west of London and not far from Downton Abbey‘s Highclere Castle. During normal seasons, contestants go about their regular lives during the weekdays and commute to the tent for tapings on weekends.

After 11 seasons, the show has become a pop culture institution in the United Kingdom, and producers felt it was crucial to keep baking and carry on, pandemic notwithstanding. 

So they moved the set to the grounds of Down Hall Hotel & Spa, a gorgeous Victorian-era luxury retreat on 110 acres about 33 miles northeast of London. Instead of taping on weekends over the autumn, everyone involved with the show—cast, crew, judges—lived and cooked at the hotel in late summer.

For six weeks, cast and crew never went home, agreeing to regular viral testing and no outside contact. Each episode was shot over two days, followed by two days off, so the entire season was recorded much faster than usual, and with much more day-to-day intimacy between the participants.

The judges, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, had separate dining facilities from the contestants. Whenever a baker earns the rare compliment of a Paul Hollywood handshake this season, rest assured there was a team of health experts behind the camera ensuring that all shaken hands were well sanitized.

The show is currently airing on Channel 4 in the U.K. and streaming in the United States on Netflix. On screen, viewers see no evidence of the complexity and intensity of the production measures happening behind the scenes other than when, on one recent episode, a baker’s children appeared to congratulate them for a success. Normally, children remain back at home.

Fans of the baking competition weren’t previously able to stay overnight at the show’s home. But in a 2020 twist, TV’s endearingly bready tournament has unexpectedly given rise to England’s newest tourist attraction.

On your next trip to the United Kingdom, you, too, can stay at Down Hall (not to be confused with Down House, where Charles Darwin lived—but you can visit there as well). 

The 98-bedroom Down Hall lies near the village of Bishop’s Stortford, which dates to Roman times at least. The hotel’s building replaced an earlier Tudor edifice in the 1860s. But unlike Downton‘s Highclere, the ruling family was unable to keep it going in changing times, so the estate was sold years

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Great Falls-based firms hired to oversee $20 million recreation center

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The city of Great Falls has received a $10 million federal grant that will allow construction of a $20 million recreation and aquatics center on the east end of town. (Photo: LPW Architecture)

The City Commission has hired two local firms to guide the design and construction of a $20 million aquatics and recreation center on the east end of Great Falls. 

By a 4-1 vote, commissioners awarded the design, permitting and construction management of the project to L’Heureux Page Werner Architecture (LPW) and TD&H Engineering, which teamed up to submit a proposal.

The motion also directed City Manager Greg Doyon to negotiate the fees and execute the contract documents.

The Great Falls-based firms will be in charge of coming up with a final design, handing the bid documents and managing the construction of the 50,000 square-foot facility on 10 acres south of the Siebel Soccer complex. 

“We’re just ready to hit the ground running and start working with them,” Park and Recreation Director Steve Herrig said.

LPW and TD&H will be joined by four subcontractors in overseeing the project: Nagel Sport of Edmonds, Wash.; Pros Consulting, Indianapolis; Morrison Maierle, Missoula; and Water Technology of Beaver Dam, Wisc. 

“Each one of them has their own individual specialization that they bring to the table, Herrig said.

Herrig noted that LPW and TD&H have significant experience in dealing with the tricky soils of Great Falls.

They also are familiar with working under the National Environmental Protection Act, or NEPA, process, which is required because of a $10 million grant the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment awarded the city for the project.

Some concerns raised

Commissioner Rick Tryon voted no after raising concerns that there was an appearance LPW and TD&H had an unfair advantage in getting the consulting contract because those two firms assisted the city in applying for the DOD grant.

Tryon recommended delaying the vote to give the public more time to study the companies that applied through the city’s “request for proposals” to serve as the project consultant.

“You don’t think their involvement in the process early on and being involved in that early proposal gave them any kind of unfair advantage over any of the other firms that submitted RFPs?” Tryon said.

Mayor Bob Kelly, who sat in on interviews with the finalists, said the process was fair with nobody having an advantage or disadvantage.

“I was quite convinced of that,” Kelly said.

More: City seeks consultant to oversee $20 million rec/aquatics center design, construction

LPWs’ and TD&Hs’ help in the grant application was, in Kelly’s mind, a disadvantage in the competition because it showed other firms their early design opening it up to criticism.

“You don’t think their involvement in the process early on and being involved in that early proposal gave them any kind of unfair advantage over any of the other firms that submitted RFPs?”

Rick Tryon, Commissioner

“They kind of set themselves up as a target,” Kelly said.

City officials

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Trip Ideas – Search for Great Vacation Spots & Travel Ideas on FlipKey

Looking for some inspiration for your next trip? FlipKey has scoured the globe to find the best destinations for any type of vacation. Whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat or a fun family getaway, we’ve got a world of options.


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