Mer­chant’s ‘Of­fice’ crosses the stream

CELEBRI­TIES

Orlando Sentinel - - People & Arts -

The masses who have en­joyed Amer­ica’s ver­sion of “The Of­fice,” with Steve Carell, John Krasin­ski and Rainn Wilson, should take a look at the Bri­tish orig­i­nal, which ar­rives Tues­day on Brit­Box.

This was the an­tic ve­hi­cle that booted Ricky Ger­vais, Stephen Mer­chant and Martin Free­man into Amer­i­can box of­fices.

Mer­chant co-cre­ated the se­ries with Ger­vais.

“I met Ricky when I was quite young, and be­cause he’s got such an amaz­ing tal­ent and also is some­one who peo­ple trust him to do things — maybe be­cause he was older — the BBC trusted him in a way they’d never trusted some 20some­thing guy,” re­calls Mer­chant.

“We didn’t start out as writ­ers. I al­ways as­pired to be a sit­com writer, but Ricky wasn’t, but just had the un­tapped tal­ent. When I used to work with him in his of­fice, he would say, ‘Have you ever met some­one like this?’ And he would play out David Brent’s type of be­hav­ior. So he had this frag­ment of this idea.

“So I said to him when we had this op­por­tu­nity to make a short film at the BBC, and I said, ‘We should make him into a char­ac­ter.’ So Ricky for­mu­lated him into this per­son. Ricky gave him the name. So he cre­ated the char­ac­ter really. I just helped him sort of cor­ral him.”

The re­sult was the hi­lar­i­ous An­glo ver­sion of “The Of­fice,” with Ger­vais in the role that was later in­her­ited by Carell.

Stars de­liver in­spi­ra­tional mes­sages at YouTube cer­e­mony: A wide-rang­ing, star-stud­ded lineup, in­clud­ing Bey­once, Lady Gaga and Tom Brady, of­fered in­spi­ra­tional mes­sages in hopes of up­lift­ing new grad­u­ates dur­ing YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” vir­tual cer­e­mony Sun­day.

Bey­once de­liv­ered a stir­ring 10-minute speech to grad­u­ates. She spoke about the re­cent protests and shared her se­crets to suc­cess and the im­por­tance of own­er­ship.

Lizzo be­gan the event with a rous­ing per­for­mance of “Pomp and Cir­cum­stance” be­fore she con­grat­u­lated grad­u­ates as the New York Phil­har­monic ac­com­pa­nied her.

Cynthia Erivo, Camila Ca­bello, Cold­play’s Chris Martin, Ty Dolla $ign, Khalid and others col­lab­o­rated to sing a ren­di­tion of U2’s “Beau­ti­ful Day.”

AMC inks deal with

Anne Rice: AMC has clinched a deal with au­thor Anne Rice and her son to cre­ate new pro­duc­tions of her pop­u­lar other-worldly nov­els. Her “Vam­pire Chron­i­cles” and “The

Lives of the May­fair Witches” se­ries in­clude 18 ti­tles. AMC plans on mak­ing se­ries, films and stream­ing shows from this “buried” trea­sure. Rice and her son, Christo­pher, will serve as ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers on all of the projects.

“It’s al­ways been my dream to see the worlds of my two big­gest se­ries united un­der a sin­gle roof so that film­mak­ers could ex­plore the ex­pan­sive and in­ter­con­nected uni­verse of my vam­pires and witches,“Anne Rice has said. “That dream is now a re­al­ity, and the re­sult is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant and thrilling deals of my long ca­reer.”

June 9 birth­days: Co­me­dian Jackie Ma­son is 92. Sports com­men­ta­tor Dick Vi­tale is 81. Ac­tor Michael J. Fox is 59. Ac­tor Johnny Depp is 57. Ac­tress Glo­ria Reuben is 56. Bassist Dean Fel­ber is 53. Ac­tress Kee­sha Sharp is 47. Ac­tress Michaela Con­lin is 42. Ac­tress Natalie Port­man is 39. Ac­tress Mae Whit­man is 32.

LIZ O. BAYLEN/LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES 2015

Stephen Mer­chant, above, says he and Ricky Ger­vais, who co-cre­ated “The Of­fice,” “didn’t start out as writ­ers.”

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