Behind the Scenes With Amy Poehler: From Pawnee to The White House

Oct 20, 2011
Originally published on October 19, 2011 8:34 pm

On NBC's Parks and Recreation, Amy Poehler plays a deputy parks director who dreams of one day working her way up the political ladder all the way to The White House.

When NPR's Ari Shapiro interviewed Poehler for Thursday's Morning Edition, The White House is exactly where he was. Shapiro is NPR's White House Correspondent and had just finished attending a briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney when he returned to his small White House basement office to talk to Poehler.

Poehler had just finished shooting scenes for an episode of Parks and Recreation from the show's set in Studio City, CA, when she quickly changed out of costume (almost always a Hillary Clinton pantsuit) for the NPR interview.

The magic of radio!

"Her head would explode if she knew she was talking to someone even within miles of The White House," said Poehler, talking about her character, Leslie Knope.

As producer of the segment, I had the tough assignment of going to the set to record Poehler for the interview.

On the day I went, it was a sweltering 103-degree October day in Studio City. But as soon as I stepped onto the set, I was transformed to the middle of winter in Indiana. The outdoor courtyard was blanketed with a dusting of fake snow for the holiday episode that was being shot.

Aside from the fake snow, everything on the set looked very real — the vast Wamapoke Indian murals painted in the hallway, the Indiana Labor Laws poster taped to the wall, and the photographs of Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi framed behind Leslie's desk.

Poehler doesn't have an office on the set; all the actors have trailers. But if she did have an office, who would be in the pictures?

Poehler thought for several seconds then answered: "Mr. Rogers and the cast of Game of Thrones."

Ben Bergman is an assistant producer for NPR's Morning Edition based at NPR West. He's on Twitter at @nprben.

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