This is the kind of thing that could happen only to Jerry.
Parks and Recreation cast members were showcased recently on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, but you can’t see Jim O’Heir’s face in the photo.
Two giant letters in the magazine’s nameplate were unceremoniously slapped over his smiling mug.
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On one level, it’s a sublime visual joke. After all, O’Heir’s character, Jerry Gergich, is the hard-luck loser on the show about small-town government worker bees. But on another level, for O’Heir the actor, who likely will never get another shot at the cover, it’s a bit of a bummer.
“When I look at it now, I think it’s very funny,” O’Heir says. “But there was initially a moment of ‘Ouch!’”
That said, it’s basically the only disappointment he’s had during his seven seasons on Parks and Recreation. The ratings-challenged sitcom gem has been allowed to take a victory lap before it signs off.
The 13-episode farewell season continues Tuesdays on NBC. The one-hour finale will be Feb. 24.
“I’ve been blessed to be part of this,” O’Heir says. “This show brought together an amazing group of people. That combo, that strike of lighting, was once in a lifetime. I don’t think any of us will ever take it for granted.”
It has been clear for a while that this cast is going places.
In-demand Amy Poehler — aka Leslie Knope, the perpetually upbeat public servant from Pawnee, Ind. — was the only real star when the show launched in April 2009. But in the years since, the others have gone supernova.
Chris Pratt (as goofball Andy Dwyer) is a movie box-office heavy hitter (Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World). Aziz Ansari (as get-rich-quick schemer Tom Haverford) sells out Madison Square Garden as a stand-up comedian. Aubrey Plaza (as deadpan April Ludgate) is an indie-film favorite (Life After Beth). Nick Offerman (as government-hating Ron Swanson) has a long line of TV and movie productions (including the second season of Fargo) wanting his unique brand of deadpan machismo.
“I probably sound like an idiot the way I talk about them, but they’re just the best people,” O’Heir says. “I couldn’t be happier for everybody.”
O’Heir’s Jerry character initially didn’t have much of a personality on the show, but he emerged as the office Rodney Daingerfield — no respect — early in Season 2.
“There was an episode where people in the office were trying to find out dirt on each other, as kind of a game,” O’Heir recalls. “Jerry didn’t want to play, but he went along. Near the end of the episode, Mark Brendanawicz (played by Paul Schneider) says something to Jerry about his pot-smoking adoptive mother.
“I look at him like, ‘What?’ He says, ‘Oh, you didn’t know your mother smoked pot?’ And I said, ‘No, I didn’t know I was adopted.’ That’s the moment when we knew what Jerry was all about.”
Jerry rarely seems to mind being the butt of the jokes and the one who gets blamed for every office catastrophe, because he’s got an idyllic family life: a beautiful wife and three devoted daughters who all think Jerry walks on water.
“It doesn’t get much cooler than having Christie Brinkley play your wife,” O’Heir says. “I’m 52 years old, which means I was still a teenager, madly in love with her, when she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. So to have this woman play my wife, it’s very surreal.”
Parks and Recreation
▪ 7 p.m. Tuesday
▪ KXAS/Channel 5