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<I>The Office</I> Star/Creator Was Hands-On for the DVD

13 Mar, 2004 By: Jessica Wolf

Coming out of nowhere to win the top TV comedy award at this year's Golden Globes, BBC's “The Office” beat out such wildly popular series as “Sex and the City” and “Will & Grace,” as well as critics' darlings “Monk” and “Arrested Development.”

Ricky Gervais, writer, creator, director and star of the quirky British comedy series, said his win for best actor in a comedy or musical series at the same ceremony was “the highlight of my career.”

BBC Home Video will release the complete second season of “The Office” on DVD April 20 (prebook March 23). The first DVD release was the fastest-selling nontheatrical comedy DVD in the United Kingdom and debuted at No. 11 on VideoScan charts in America.

Gervais and his partner Stephen Merchant just wrapped up the two finale specials for the show, which should air in the United States around the holidays.

“‘The Office' is a cottage industry,” Gervais said. “We don't just do the writing and the directing; we choose the cast, we design the cover for the DVD, write the blurbs for the back of the DVD -- we do everything.”

The Office: The Complete Second Season ($24.98) DVD includes all six second-season episodes as well as outtakes, deleted scenes and a making-of video diary from Gervais and Merchant.

DVD has opened up this offbeat comedy to an entirely new audience, Gervais said.

“I love DVD, I love making things,” he said. “And I love television. It creates a common consciousness, I think. I love it when you're sitting and watching a TV program at the same time that everyone else is and then you talk about it the next day; it creates that sort of social connection. But with DVD there's a whole new aspect to it: You can watch every episode in one night if you want to.”

Right now, Gervais said he is hooked on “24” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on TV.

While he was in the United States for the Golden Globes, Gervais made a stop at the set of another of his favorite shows, “Alias,” for a stint as a guest star in the episode that aired this past weekend. He'd been exchanging phone calls and e-mails with “Alias” creator J.J. Abrams about an appearance. Meeting Abrams was “annoying,” Gervais said.

“I wanted him to be this fat, balding 45-year-old, and then I finally meet him and he's younger than me, obviously works out -- it was annoying,” Gervais joked.

“Now I want to be on ‘24' and ‘The Simpsons.’

One of his all-time favorite DVDs is Comedian, the documentary with Jerry Seinfeld.

“I was like a nerd. I watched the commentary, I watched all the extras over and over,” he said.

Gervais thinks the consumer hunger for all things DVD is helping drive the success of “The Office” for home entertainment, but realizes that soon could abate.

“I think in a couple of years, people will be throwing out DVDs they've never even watched,” he said. Gervais and crew have moved on from “The Office,” choosing to go out on a high note.

“Shame on writers that just take the money and turn out rubbish,” he said. “In five years time, I don't want to be sitting back and looking at something I've done and saying, ‘Well, that's a blot on the copy book.' That's so much more important to me than money.”

Gervais is starting a standup tour and is working on a new series with Merchant called “Extras.” It will take a look at a group of actors who make their living as extras, focusing heavily on one slacker-type extra who will be played by Gervais.

“There might be little cameos for American stars,” Gervais said, getting excited.

“Yeah, if any huge American stars want to come to England and film for a day, the money's rubbish, the weather's awful and I make it up as I go along, but I'm putting the ‘help wanted' ad out for it.”

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