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December 4, 2012

NBC’s ‘Parks and Rec’ meets real politics in Indiana shoot

INDIANAPOLIS — What do you do when a political celebrity shows up for an impromptu lunch at a landmark restaurant where the cast and crew of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” are shooting a scene?

You ask him if he wants in on the action and then, on the spot, you write up a cameo role.

That’s what happened Monday when former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich unexpectedly walked into St. Elmo’s Steak House in downtown Indianapolis as actor Rob Lowe and his male co-stars were filming a scene for an upcoming episode of the popular sitcom based in fictional Pawnee, Ind.

“This is wild,” said actor Adam Scott, as Gingrich passed by on his way to makeup.

It’s Scott’s character, Ben Wyatt, who’s the reason why Hollywood had taken over much of the iconic steakhouse: St. Elmo’s is the scene of Ben’s big bachelor party in Indianapolis, thrown by his steak-loving co-worker, Ron Swanson, and attended by some of the civil servants who populate Pawnee’s city hall. (Ironically, Scott’s character has recently returned from a job on Capitol Hill.)

Gingrich had stopped by the restaurant, not knowing of the film shoot, on his way to an appointment with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

“I think he’s one of the finest leaders in government today,” said Gingrich, who’s writing a book on leadership and said Daniels will be a part of it.

The Gingrich sighting was proof to the Parks and Recreation cast and crew that Lowe — who has deep Indiana roots — knew what he was talking about when he told them that St. Elmo’s was THE place to be.

“Rob loves Indianapolis and he loves this place,” said the show’s producer Morgan Sackett, who, along with his co-workers, labor to get the Indiana details just right.

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