As “The Office” concludes its illustrious nine-season run on NBC, not all is well at its Scranton, Pa., paper company.
At present, Jim and Pam’s storybook romance is on the rocks, Dwight and Angela’s totally icky liaison may never reach the goal line, Andy is losing his grip on his managerial position as well as his girl, Erin, and Jim and Darryl’s fledgling sports marketing agency is in search of funding, not to mention its first big-ticket client.
Well, enter one Ryan Howard. Blitz has learned exclusively that the Philadelphia Phillies slugger will appear as an exaggerated version of himself alongside John Krasinski (Jim) and Craig Robinson (Darryl) in the March 28 episode, which will see the marketing reps at Athlead attempt to sign one of Philadelphia’s biggest sports stars.
Robinson gave Blitz a call to talk about Howard’s cameo -- or so he thought.
Because Blitz is arguably “The Office”’s biggest fan, never having missed an episode since its inception, not even during the slow years, Robinson spent much of the interview artfully dodging my questions about the series’ highly anticipated conclusion -- and breaking my heart just a little bit, as well.
So, we have a lot of important things to discuss, but I guess we have to start with Ryan Howard: What’s a superstar like him doing with your crappy startup agency?
[Laughs.] Well, you know, we’re trying to blow this up. We want to be a success and we want him joining us, but we’re looking out for his best interests, too. We want to see Ryan’s star grow to beyond a household name, to where he’s a household-and-backyard name.
How are Ryan’s acting skills?
Ryan killed it. He was dope, man. He’s pretty damn funny in real life, which doesn’t always translate to TV, but he killed it. He’s definitely a better actor than John Krasinski. Without a doubt. [Laughs.] I’m just playing.
Did you milk him for some dirt on the Phillies?
I’ve met Ryan a couple of times and he’s very chill, but I’m from Chicago, so he didn’t want to hear that. But he did say he’s going to get me out to some games, so I’m looking forward to doing that.
Isn’t that what athletes always say to celebrities -- “Oh, yeah, dude, come on out, I’ll take care of you” -- just before they delete your number from their phone?
True but, see, in this instance I got the proper communications -- in other words, his manager’s info. [Laughs.] So I’ll be cashing in on that, for sure.
Before Howard, you had 76ers legend Julius Irving appear in an episode. Why not a current Sixers player, like Andrew Bynum? Or are you worried that his wild mop would drive your hair team insane?
[Laughs.] Yeah, he’s just growing that thing out. But Athlead is trying to expand beyond the Philly market. Gotta go worldwide, baby! Personally, I’d like to get Blake Griffin. He’s a shining star with the Clippers and he’s just killing it right now. We’re going for the best of the best.
All right, on behalf of The Office’s legion of fans, I’m going to wrap this up with some very super-duper important questions: First off, is Ellie Kemper’s Erin really leaving Ed Helms’ Andy for the intern boy? I mean, c’mon, really?
Well, I spend all of my time at Athlead, so I don’t know. You have to wait to see it play out.
Another important question: Is Ellie single in real life? I’m asking for a friend, of course.
[Laughs.] Ellie Kemper is married. Sorry about that.
Damn, son. My friend will be sad.
Yeah, and she just got married last year, by the way, so you just missed the boat.
OK, now you’re trying to upset me. Moving on: It’s been quite a rise for your character Darryl, from the warehouse to athlete representation. They even gave you a girl. Where do you see him going from here?
I think he sticks with Athlead and takes over. I think he lands that gigantic client and everybody starts to follow him. But who knows -- Darryl’s always been full of big ideas but it when it comes time to deliver, sometimes he has a nervous breakdown.
The next very important question: Are Jim and Pam heading for a divorce or are you guys just messing with us?
Wow, really interesting question. Hmmmm I think I’m going to have to go with -- [in a sing-songy voice] -- you’re going to have to tune in and see!!
Now you’re pissing me off, dude. OK, how about Steve Carell is he coming back?
That one I don’t know. He did his big, gigantic goodbye already but there was talk about bringing him back (for the season finale), but we only have three episodes left to shoot and I haven’t seen his name anywhere.
Finally, a straight answer! I bet you were one of those kids in school who’d say stuff like, “I have the biggest, bestest secret and I’m not telling!”
[Laughs.] Naw, I’m just trying to keep my job. I can see the headline tomorrow: “Robinson Spills the Beans!”