A single song reference in one of the popular sitcom’s iconic Christmas episodes ran its network $60,000.
Though The Office aired its last episode in 2013, this American mockumentary’s nine-season-long run on NBC has had an unprecedented cultural impact. The show has appeared on Netflix’s daily “Top 10” more times than any other show, and has led to a multitude of fan pages, meme accounts, and “best moments” video compilations.
The show has even given rise to a new podcast featuring two fan-favorite Office actresses. The podcast Office Ladies, which began nearly a year ago, stars Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela). Each episode, Fischer and Kinsey rewatch an episode of the office, offering commentary and behind-the-scenes stories.
During the August 4 episode “A Benihana Christmas,” the actresses discussed the season 3 episode of the same name with actress Rashida Jones and staff writer Jen Celotta. According to Celotta, one two-line joke put the episode way over budget.
Celotta wrote in a bit where character Michael Scott sings a few bars of the song “Two Tickets to Paradise” by Eddie Money. Because of the expensive nature of song clearance—purchasing the rights to use a song in a tv show or movie from a music label—the short feature had a shocking price tag.
“At the sound mix, I found out from [producer Kent Zbornak] that was a $60,000 joke,” Celotta said. “I was like, ‘It’s a fine joke, but none of my jokes I’ve ever written have been $60,000 jokes.’”
The same episode also included a cover of John Mayer’s “Your Body is a Wonderland.” While this normally would have cost the network an even larger sum of money, Office actor B.J. Novak was able to negotiate with his singer-songwriter buddy. While Columbia Records made bank off Michael’s “Paradise” rendition, Mayer arguably got something even better: a personalized Dundie Award for “Tallest Music Dude.”
For more hilarious content from The Office, check out this compilation of Michael Scott’s best “that’s what she said” jokes.