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The Office aired from March until April 1995 on CBS.
The executive offices of Package Inc., a package design company in Chicago, provided the setting for this comedy about secretaries and their bosses. Rita ( Valerie Harper), the veteran, a divorcee who had been with the firm for 19 years, was the glue that held things together, seeing that everything got done on time, mediating disputes, and trying to be a good listener to both job-related and personal problems. Her inept boss, Frank ( Dakin Matthews), the senior manager, was so dependant on her that he felt threatened by anything that might cause change, including an improvement in her social life. Others in the office were Natalie ( Lisa Darr), the firm's only female executive, more than capable of dealing with the "boys" on their own terms; Natalie's secretary, Beth ( Debra Jo Rupp), a mother of four barely able to keep up with the demands of work and family; glib top salesman Steve ( Kevin Conroy), not above stretching the truth to close a deal; Steve's secretary, Deborah ( Kristin Dattilo-Hayward), an incredibly naive M.B.A. student who took everything literally; talented but temperamental graphic artist Bobby ( Gary Dourdan), who had brought the firm a lot of business but often had to be kept out of earshot of clients; and Bobby's free-spirited secretary, Mae ( Andrea Abbate), a three-time loser at marriage whose last job had been with Club Med.
An Article from The Virginian Pilot
Published on March 11, 1995
JUST ANOTHER SHOW ABOUT "THE OFFICE" WITH VALERIE HARPER
IN ``THE OFFICE,'' a CBS sitcom which premieres Saturday night at 9, Valerie Harper plays a character not unlike the old Rhoda Morgenstern - the overweight, insecure Rhoda on ``The Mary Tyler Moore Show'' who had a hard time getting dates.
Early on in ``The Office,'' Harper tells others in the secretarial pool that if she were meeting men, she'd be dieting, and if she were dieting, she'd be dating. Harper does none of the above in early episodes of ``The Office.''
It's the same as when she was the old Rhoda, Mary Richards' friend and neighbor on ``Mary Tyler Moore.'' (The new Rhoda, in a series of her own in 1974, put it together and landed a guy named Joe, played by David Groh.)
Since then, Harper has worked some in feature films, made-for-TV movies and a series in 1993 (``City'') that faded quickly. She didn't turn her back on series television after ``Rhoda,'' Harper told TV writers in Los Angeles not long ago.
Series television turned its back on her.
``I said to myself, `Where are the good scripts?' There were few. In doing this show, I have no trepidation about the scripts,'' she said.
``The Office'' is standard sitcom stuff.
You take a bunch of people a few degrees off center, toss them together, and let the one-liners roll. Harper in ``The Office'': ``Guys my age are defective in some way. They don't bathe or they live with their mothers or they're half bald with what's left of their gray hair tied up in back in a ponytail.''
A rimshot, please.
``The Office'' is just about as entertaining as ``The Boys are Back,'' the show it replaces on CBS' Saturday night schedule. That's no compliment.
Executive producer Susan Beavers created the show out of her own experiences. She used to be a $75-a-week secretary. Said Beavers, ``There are millions of people out there who work in offices who will relate to this show.'' She hopes.
Network television's spring season brings forth two other new series in the week to come, including just what network TV doesn't need - another show that features doctors at work. With two shows about medicine already on the air, plus another in syndication, who needs ``Medicine Ball,'' which premieres on Fox Monday night at 9 after ``Melrose Place''? I will say this about ``Medicine Ball,'' set in a Seattle hospital: It looks like a Hallmark Hall of Fame production next to ``Models Inc.,'' the show it is replacing.
The third new show to debut in mid-March, ``Under One Roof,'' gives prime time TV something it should have had years ago - an intelligent, well-written, well-acted drama about African-American families. James Earl Jones and Joe Morton head up the cast for ``Under One Roof,'' which starts on CBS Tuesday night at 8.
Seattle is also the setting for this series. ``In television dramas in the past, when I'd looked at the screen, I'd never see me, see people like me,'' said Morton. Morton and Vanessa Bell Calloway play a married couple, the second of three generations living in the big house in Seattle.
So, what else is worthy of the couch potato's attention in the days to come? The ratings sweeps have ended but not the special programming: For instance:
It's been 25 years since ex-Marine Don Cornelius started ``Soul Train,'' which still prospers in syndication. Cornelius now has an awards show all his own, ``The Ninth Annual Soul Train Music Awards,'' which WGNT airs Monday at 10 p.m.
The co-hosts are Patti LaBelle, Anita Baker and Kenny ``Babyface'' Edmonds. Diana Ross gets a salute for being Diana Ross. Is this anti-climactic to the Emmys, or what?
Continuing with the music thing, WGNT on Sunday at 7 p.m. continues its 10-hour presentation of ``The History of Rock 'n' Roll.'' Sunday's segment: ``Have a Nice Decade: The '70s.''
It's the March membership drive at WHRO. That's usually a cue for musical spectaculars on Channel 15, and this year is no exception.
On Saturday night at 6:30, it's ``Glenn Miller's Greatest Hits'' for those still in the mood, and on Sunday at 5:30 p.m., WHRO airs ``Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti with Metha: The Three Tenors in Concert 1994.'' And who says a PBS station can't be moderately hip? WHRO on Saturday night at 8 shows the 1964 Beatles' film, ``Hard Day's Night'' followed by a special about the making of the movie, and then, more Beatles! ``Help!'' airs at 11:15 p.m.
The Virginia Beach-based Family Channel, heavily into original TV programming as its parent company, International Family Entertainment looks to feature films, puts on a new flick Sunday at 7 p.m. ``Dad, the Angel & Me'' stars Judge Reinhold and Carol Kane, who steals the movie as an unconventional guardian angel.
Elsewhere, CNN beams in on the crime and corruption in Russia on Sunday at 9 p.m. in ``The Wild, Wild East.'' Murder in Moscow is up 40 percent, reports CNN bureau chief Eileen O'Connor. . . . The Nashville Network marks St. Patrick's Day on Friday with the ``Music of Ireland'' at 8 p.m., featuring Mary Black and Emmylou Harris. On TNN Tuesday night at 8, ``A Phyllis George Special'' includes interviews with Andy Griffith and Dale Earnhardt, who just may be the best stock-car driver around. . . . The A&E ``Biography'' series also visits Nashville Monday night at 8 with a profile of singer Loretta Lynn. The next night at 8, feminist Gloria Steinem is in the spotlight. . . . With Oscar time approaching, E! Entertainment Television has a preview special, ``Invitation to the Oscars,'' Tuesday night at 10. On March 19 at 5 and 11 p.m., E! goes backstage for ``The Making of the 1995 Academy Awards.''
An Article from UPI
March 29, 1995
Valerie Harper, a veteran of the TV series wars...
VERNON SCOTT UPI Hollywood Reporter
HOLLYWOOD -- Valerie Harper, a veteran of the TV series wars going back to 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' 25 years ago, returned to the battlefield this month in a new series. Harper is the star of 'The Office,' which made its debut on CBS. This time around Harper plays an executive secretary in a branch office of a manufacturing firm somewhere in the Midwest. 'An office is such a great venue for a situation comedy it surprises me that no one has tried it before,' she said. 'My character is Rita. She is the office manager as well as the boss's secretary. This show is not '9 to 5.' It doesn't trash the bosses. No male bashing. 'It's about bosses and secretaries, and each group thinks the other is not doing what it should. It's a human condition, not a gender confrontation. 'Rita is an old war horse who is loyal to the company and knows how to keep things humming.' Harper's first series character, Rhoda Morgenstern, in 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and subsequently in her own show, 'Rhoda,' also kept things humming. She was the spark plug in 'Valerie,' playing Valerie Hogan, until she left in a dispute with the network and the show went on as 'The Hogan Family.' She starred briefly in a failed sitcom titled 'City,' in which she played a harried Italianate city manager with a hyper personality. Of her fifth series, Harper said, 'There is a real mix of personalities.
One character is a young sexy temp, another is a harried mom. There is a party girl and Rita is a single career girl. 'She is a tough-talking, married-to-the-job secretary. She's warm, Italian-American, brash and a terrible romantic. She's a crackerjack, she knows where every paper clip is. 'Rita and her boss have a real professional marriage. No sex or flirting. He's happily married and a wonderful guy. Rita nags him about his clothes and his diet. 'It's a family of people with problems and joys and triumphs. Instead of the usual four main characters we have eight, which is really nice. Every character is interesting and distinct. 'Our cast isn't well-known now, but I think all of them will become stars too: Andrea Abbate, Kevin Conroy, Lisa Darr, Kristin Dattilo- Hayward, Dakin Matthews, Gary Dourdan and Debra Jo Rupp. 'The show is something like the first year of Mary's series. Mary was the only star, but it wasn't long before the rest of the cast -- Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Gavin MacLeod, Cloris Leachman and Betty White -- became famous too. 'Rita has some traits in common with Rhoda. They're both New Yorkers but Rita's not as neurotic. I have to say Rita doesn't have any of the same traits Valerie Hogan had.' Harper was relaxed and in a splendid mood, feeling right at home at a choice table in husband Tony Caciatti's Italian restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard. 'Rita is maybe lower middle class,' she said. 'Almost everyone has known a woman like Rita. Viewers will be able to relate to her. 'She's a working person, efficient and always a little bit concerned about keeping her job. 'Rita has some power, which is nice, and I can play my own age, which is also good. 'Best of all, working in a sitcom here in Hollywood allows me to stay in place and spent time with Tony. We're partners in a project called 'Boomerang!' It produces a monthly, 70-minute audio cassette tape. 'The tapes consist of educational and entertaining programs for 6- to 13-year-olds, founded by a couple in Northern California. The business was inspired by their 8-year-old daughter who wanted to know what the Berlin Wall was all about. 'She couldn't access that information on TV or in newspapers, so her parents developed this wonderful audio magazine on subjects like cults, drugs and pertinent items in the news that affect children. 'I play a regular character in 'Boomerang,' telling stories in contemporary language about Greek mythology. They run eight minutes and are informative as well as entertaining. 'There are segments about the dopey things parents do, and weird word definitions, a sort of game. 'The cassettes are distributed through the mail to about 50,000 youngsters across the country. Subscribers pay $3 or $4 per cassette. 'Kids listen to each tape an average of 16 times. They are fascinated by topics like the Holocaust as told through the story of Anne Frank. 'Listeners are introduced to classical music through brief biographies about composers. 'Most of the voices are those of children, making it easy for kids to relate to what is being said. Youngsters find the emotional impact of other children greater than voices of adults. 'Right now Tony has PBS and other organizations interested in converting the audio tapes to video cassettes for showing on TV or cable. 'We're going slowly to decide on what's best. Tony wants to nurture it along and do it the right way. 'The tapes are positive and upbeat, not about problems. We believe children will remember what they learn from these cassettes for the rest of their lives.'
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
Published on April 11, 1995
VALERIE HARPER DROWNS IN AN 'OFFICE' SECRETARIAL POOL
By Bruce Fretts
How's this for a cutting-edge satire of corporate America: The assistants on THE OFFICE (CBS, Saturdays, 9-9:30 p.m.) are smarter than the bosses! Valerie Harper stars as Rita, the senior member of a secretarial pool that includes such walking cliches as the Ditz (Kristin Dattilo-Hayward), the Bimbo (Andrea Abbate), and the Sexually Frustrated Working Mom (Debra Jo Rupp). Their superiors at a packaging firm are a more mixed lot: the Clueless CEO (Dakin Matthews), the Himbo (Kevin Conroy), the Token Guy with Dreadlocks (Gary Dourdan), and the Bitch (Lisa Darr).
Harper manages to maintain her dignity despite The Office's flimsy scripts. At least she can take comfort knowing that her new series isn't as treacly as fellow Mary Tyler Moore Show veteran Ed Asner's execrable ABC kid-com, Thunder Alley. Still, it came awfully damn close when Rupp's character brought her sick son to work and the brat puked in the company elevator (''I frowed up!'').
Perhaps remembering her troubled last series -- Harper's departure caused Valerie to be renamed Valerie's Family, which later became The Hogan Family -- The Office's producers chose not to call it The Valerie Harper Show. For that, she can only be grateful. C-
For more on the Office go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office_(1995_TV_series)
For the Official Site of Valerie Harper go to http://www.valerieharper.com/
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDE93uEKU-s
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Keywords: The Cast of Office (Links Updated 8/1/18)