‘The Office’: Why Joss Whedon Stopped Production to Replace 1 of Pam’s Paintings
Sometimes a director makes changes because they have a strong point of view for a scene. Joss Whedon directed an episode of The Office and he stopped production because of Pam Beesly’s art. He thought Pam would have never painted one of the paintings and had it replaced.
Pam became more ambitious with her art on ‘The Office’
Pam (Jenna Fischer) started out as the receptionist for Dunder Mifflin. However, she always expressed some interest in art.
She eventually did go to an art class and went to Pratt Institute in New York to continue her education. The whole storyline really showed her struggle between sticking to what she knew at Dunder Mifflin and trying to have something more.
Joss Whedon directed ‘Business School’
The Office gained so much popularity that directors started asking to be involved with the show. Whedon directed the episode “Business School.”
The episode shows Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak) bringing Michael Scott (Steve Carell) to his business school to talk about Dunder Mifflin. Pam also invites her co-workers to her art show.
The art show leads to an emotional scene between Michael and Pam. Michael was upset about Ryan claiming Dunder Mifflin is a doomed business. Pam was upset to overhear some of her co-workers dismissing her art. They managed to make each other feel better. There was a small detail in the scene that unexpectedly led to Whedon holding up production.
Joss Whedon stopped production to change Pam’s art
The director thought one of Pam’s paintings wasn’t right for the scene. The writer of the episode, Brent Forrester talked about this on the Office Ladies podcast.
“When we got on set there was one drawing that Joss strongly felt that Pam’s character would not have done. It was a watercolor drawing of a church,” Forrester said. “And he just felt it was out of character for her.”
Forrester continued, “Joss felt so passionately about this picture that he stopped production and said ‘I need a new picture. I would like a picture of a stapler. That’s what I think Pam would have drawn.'”
There were more discussions but Whedon wouldn’t let up. There was a class full of art students on location and one of them drew the stapler for $50 to create the painting.
“I have to say, Angela the watercolor that stood out to me the most when we first flash up to her wall was that stapler,” Fischer told podcast co-host Angela Kinsey, who played Angela Martin on The Office. Kinsey agreed it works because Pam creates art about things in her world. She also had a theory the stapler represents Jim, who has put a stapler in a jello mold to prank Dwight (Rainn Wilson.)