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Scranton, Pa., to Host 'Office' Party

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MICHAEL RUBINKAM | October 24, 2007 09:34 AM EST | AP


ALLENTOWN, Pa. — As Michael Scott, the clueless boss on NBC's "The Office," would say, "ain't no party like a Scranton party."

With that in mind, the city where the Emmy-winning cubicle comedy is set is hosting a weekend blowout for thousands of fans.

The inaugural "Office Convention" promises to be as quirky as the show itself, with highlights including an Office Olympics (Dunderball, anyone?), a character lookalike contest, appearances by cast and crew and performances by the Scrantones, the band that recorded the show's theme music.

"If people leave here saying, `I had a blast in Scranton,' then we've achieved our goal," said Michele Dempsey, 35, an architect and Scranton native who came up with the idea for the convention.

It starts Friday with the "Today" show's Al Roker broadcasting live from the University of Scranton and wraps up Sunday.

About 2,000 tickets ranging from $25 to $250 have been sold so far _ 70 percent of them to out-of-town fans.

A remake of the acclaimed British series of the same name, "The Office" is shot in mock-documentary style, following the exploits of Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and his sad-sack underlings at the fictional Dunder-Mifflin paper-supply company.

In its fourth season on NBC, "The Office" boasts a devoted following.

Fans have been making pilgrimages to Scranton, a small city about 100 miles north of Philadelphia, to check out real-life landmarks referenced on the show, from Poor Richard's pub and Farley's restaurant to Lake Wallenpaupack and the Lackawanna County Coal Mine Tour.

City leaders have done their best to capitalize on the show's popularity, touting Scranton's recent emergence from years of economic stagnation.

"The show has been the vehicle by which we can tell our story, and cities rarely get that opportunity," said Mayor Chris Doherty, who counts himself a fan.

Fourteen cast members, along with the show's writers and executive producer, are scheduled to appear this weekend. None of the actors who play the main characters _ Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer _ have signed on.

Dempsey said the show has helped the city feel good about itself.

"For us in Scranton, we watch it with a whole other level of appreciation," she said. "When you would tell people outside the area you lived in Scranton, they would feel sorry for you. Now, it's, 'Oh my God, I love The Office!'"

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On the Net:

http://www.theofficeconvention.com/