Rich Howells

‘The Office’ star Brian Baumgartner is top earner on Cameo, records podcast in Scranton

‘The Office’ star Brian Baumgartner is top earner on Cameo, records podcast in Scranton
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Brian Baumgartner, who played Dunder Mifflin accountant Kevin Malone on the hit NBC sitcom “The Office,” records personal messages for fans on In Scranton, however, he sometimes visits them in person.

In a New York Times interview published on Dec. 7, Cameo CEO Steve Galanis said Baumgartner was their top earner on the website in 2020, an online marketplace where people can hire their favorite celebrities to make short videos for them. The actors, comedians, musicians, and other stars can set their own prices, and while there are arguably more famous names on the platform, “The Office” fandom is still going strong – Baumgartner earned $1 million by charging $195 a video. That can pay for a lot of Kevin’s famous chili… or new carpeting.

“It’s his persona. He really takes a lot of pride in his craftsmanship of the videos. And I do think the quality of the cameo is something that is really important to people,” Galanis said.

“He just is somebody that really takes it seriously and does a great job. He’s reliable. He turns them around quickly. And the content is really funny. And in general, comedians tend to do best. So to your point about like joking or roasting, that’s a really big use case. So it’s not a surprise that the comedians do better than anybody else.”

“The Office” is set in Scranton and used various shots of the Electric City in its opening montage, so the Scranton-based Lafayette Street Deli booked him to promote the business’ grand opening last year:

On Jan. 22, 2020, Baumgartner visited his co-star John Krasinski in New York City and shared an old photo on his Instagram of them both with Jenna Fischer at the Backyard Ale House taken during “The Office” Wrap Party in 2013, when most of the cast visited Scranton.

“Such fond memories. I’m doing it – I’ve decided I am detouring from NYC to Scranton and will see you tomorrow night!” he wrote.

The news spread fast online and excited crowds gathered at Cooper’s Seafood House and Backyard Ale House to greet him on Jan. 23. He also stopped in The Bog, the University of Scranton, and a few other places not only to meet fans and catch up with old friends, but to bring a recording crew and speak to locals about the show’s impact nearly seven years after the last episode aired on NBC.

It turns out this was for a Spotify original podcast called “An Oral History of The Office,” which debuted on July 14. The 12 episodes feature interviews with Krasinski, Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Angela Kinsey, Oscar Martinez, and Creed Bratton, as well as the creators and producers. The last episode premiered on Sept. 15 and includes clips from his wild night in Scranton, like his visit to Backyard where he stepped behind the bar to pour drinks and party with fans on the heated patio. Cameo videos can be fun, but this was a much more personal experience.

“Hey! Here’s my only question for all of you tonight – what the fuck do you want to drink?” he shouted as fans cheered and held up their drinks.

This moment made it into the podcast, as well as some fan memories. Lake Wallenpaupack residents talked about how they watched the show from the very beginning. One unnamed fan talked about how she walked into “The Office” theme song at her wedding, another said she has a tattoo of Jim Halpert dressed as Dwight Schrute from one memorable episode, and another mentions how her young kids also watch it, which leads into a longer discussion about why it appeals to so many Americans, no matter their age.

The 48-year-old actor chatted and snapped photos with fans long into the night, and he later recalled on the podcast how the cast first stopped at The Bog when they came to Scranton and then got drunk at the Ale House. On this trip, he recorded his reactions to driving by Scranton landmarks mentioned on the show.

“It was very emotional being back,” Baumgartner said during the podcast.

“Really in exploring anything about ‘The Office,’ I felt like it was important to come back here to Scranton. It’s not really where it all started, but it somehow feels like it’s where it all started. Even though I’m a guy from Atalanta who lives in L.A., every time I go to Scranton, it feels weirdly like coming home.”

Stream the full episode below:

He was set to return for an appearance at a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders baseball game on June 12, but this was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Another event, The Office Super Fan Festival, was scheduled to bring in guests like actor Leslie David Baker to downtown Scranton on July 24-26, but the convention was postponed until next year.

See NEPA Scene’s photos of Baumgartner hanging out at The Bog and Backyard Ale House here.

Photo by Jason Riedmiller Photography/NEPA Scene