In order to surpass the WNBA Network and the Golf Channel in television network ratings, NBC has made the most shocking lead casting of all time.For its new series, “The Halperts,” a spinoff of the hit comedy “The Office” whose nine-season run is coming to an end in May, NBC execs have greenlighted Penn Athletics Associate Director of Athletic Communications Eric Dolan to be cast as Jim Halpert, longtime sales representative at fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin in Scranton, Pa.
Dolan’s five years of experience in Ivy League sports information aren’t exactly the norm for a major network sitcom star, but after John Krasinski opted not to continue in the role of Jim, NBC execs got desperate.
“We wanted someone who walks, talks and glumly puts his hands in his pockets all the time exactly like the Jim Halpert we already know,” “The Halperts” casting director Allison Jones said. “And Eric was that guy from the moment his audition started.”
Dolan’s sports information background helped him win the role as well. Since “The Office” found Halpert aspiring to move to Philadelphia to become a sportswriter and actually leaving for Philly to get into sports marketing in the final season, it shouldn’t take much for Dolan to get into character as Jim.
Still, Dolan had to undergo an arduous mental health evaluation after producers learned he was a Buffalo Bills fan, and production hasn’t been all smooth sailing so far.
“He interferes with the writers a lot,” “The Halperts” executive producer and showrunner Paul Lieberstein said. “He’ll tweak story ideas on the fly trying to help but we’ll wind up with storylines that only exist to make his character look good.”
NBC isn’t letting Dolan talk to the media to preserve his “everyman” image as the actor portraying the new Jim Halpert.
“It’s gotta be frustrating for him to be on the other side of that,” Penn Athletics Communications Director Mike Mahoney said. “He knows how to use the media if they’d only let him. His fans want to hear from him.”
Now that Mahoney is missing Dolan from his staff, he’ll need to find a replacement to fill in. Unfortunately, it won’t be former Penn AComm staffer Justin Grube, who declined the opportunity to replace Dolan after having left Penn last year to become a monk in Bhutan.
But with all eyes on NBC’s ratings, it’s Dolan’s fictional career as a Philly sports marketer that will determine whether he’s remembered as a natural star or an anonymous bust.
This article appeared in the Daily Pennsylvanian’s Joke Issue 2013. For more information, click here.