"Parks and Recreation" reunion cast were each sent an Apple iPhone to record their scenes
For a sitcom that only once cracked the top 100 in the Nielsen ratings (and that was its first season when it was number 96), NBC's "Parks and Recreation" had a loyal following that couldn't get enough of the show. The so-called "mockumentary" was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards including two for Best Comedy Series. Set in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, "Parks and Recreation" is a good example of why you can't just go by the ratings when looking for quality network fare.
Several television productions are relying on iOS devices to stay on the air during the pandemic
According to Variety (via AppleInsider), the entire episode was shot using several iPhone units and took only four days to record. Of course, recording a television show during a quarantine presents some problems. For example, each cast member was sent an iPhone, a tripod, special lighting, and a microphone. And Zoom was used to remotely direct the actors and help them with framing the scenes. Show creator Mike Schur said that the graphics and effects crew from "The Good Place" was deployed "to make it not look like everyone was just sitting alone in their houses staring at a computer."After seven seasons, "Parks and Recreation" went off the air in 2015. However, to raise money for the Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund, the cast has reunited for a one-time thirty-minute special episode that NBC will broadcast tomorrow at 8:30 pm.
Schur said that while making the show was fun, it also was "slow and laborious," and he doesn't believe that this is the future of television production. He says, "Is there anything about this that points the way forward for TV production? And the answer is a resounding no. For me, this is not the way TV is supposed to be made. It required an incredible amount of basically goodwill volunteer work, or guild minimum, union minimum volunteer work from sound designers and editors and supervisors and all sorts of people really just doing it, because it’s a fundraiser, because it was fun to get the cast back together. But, you know, TV is a team sport. From the very beginning to the very end, it’s about groups of people functioning in holistic ways with each other, and collaborating and being in the same room at the same time. And, you know, I don’t think there’s any way that this is a sustainable method for making television."
That the entire show was filmed using the iPhone isn't anything special during these times. Shows like "American Idol" and "Conan" are both using the device and as we told you last month, the Today show's Al Roker relies on an iPhone and an iPad to do segments live from his home. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, actors and late-night hosts like Seth Myers and Jimmy Kimmel are using an iPad to film their shows. According to USA Today, Rich DeMuro, who broadcasts tech segments on KTLA in Los Angeles and on 40 stations nationwide, now does his live bits from home using an iPhone, a tripod he bought from Amazon, and special software. Talking about how easy it is to broadcast live from home, DeMuro notes that "You only need a smartphone, software and a microphone now. You can go live from anywhere in the world now with your iPhone and one of these apps, which to me is just so amazing. We used to need a huge rig, satellite truck, and microwave transmission. Now you can do it all on the phone."
In the past, we've seen several music videos filmed using an iPhone including the one for "Lose You to Love Me" sung by Selena Gomez. That video was recorded on an iPhone 11 Pro as was the video for Lady Gaga's song "Stupid Love." Some indie movies have also been recorded using an iPhone. Not only do filmmakers find that due to its size, the iPhone is able to get shots that larger professional cameras can't, the iPhone is also much cheaper to purchase than a professional camera.
The big question heading into tomorrow night's "Parks and Recreation" event was whether Chris Pratt would reprise his role as goofy Andy Dwyer for the reunion. After all, Pratt is now a highly paid motion picture action star. But like George Clooney before him, who returned for the last few episodes of "ER," Pratt will appear in the special episode. Other cast members who you'll see include Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, and Jim O'Heir.