‘Parks and Recreation’: 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’
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
“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 work.
But that won’t stand in their way. “I can speak for all of us when I say we’d be back,” said O’Heir. “If Mike calls, we’re back. Every one of us. I mean, scheduling we’d have to work out depending [on] what else we’re working on. But we would all be back. A phone call from Mike is all it takes. And we would all be back.”