NBC's "Parks and Recreation" brings show to Indianapolis

NBC's "Parks and Recreation" filmed at St. Elmo Steak House in December.

Hoosiers waited anxiously outside St. Elmo Steak House in downtown Indianapolis, one spot where the show was filming.

"Today's my birthday, so I'm hoping to see Adam Scott," said Maggie Thistleton.

"Rob Lowe, super handsome. I don't know if I can handle him," said Kelly Carter.

Betheny Smith of Indianapolis had to take a moment to consider who her favorite actor is on the show.

"Oh my gosh, that's really hard. But I'd have to say Aziz Ansari. Treat yourself," she said, referring to one of Ansari's recurring comedic lines on the show.

"I'm on the local parks board in Southport, so this show is an inspiration to me," said Carter.

The show is based in the fictional Indiana town of Pawnee.

"What does it mean for you to bring the entire crew, for the most part, here to Indiana?" Morehead asked show creator Mike Schur.

"It's always been on our kind of to do list, to actually go to Indianapolis and, like, shoot, like, make the place where the show has been set a part of the actual show and it's finally happening," Schur said.

The Season 5 episode set in Indianapolis is all about the guys on the show.

"What Ben wanted to do for his bachelor party ended up being pretty boring, so we decide to go out and fulfill everybody's bachelor party fantasy," said Scott, who plays Ben Wyatt on the show.

Character Ron Swanson's dream, played by Nick Offerman, is to eat steak.

"Which is just to eat tons of steak," Scott said.

"Ron Swanson loves steaks. Best steak, St. Elmo," said Rob Lowe, who plays Chris Traeger.

And the dream comes true.

"As long as there's bacon, Ron will eat it until the bacon is gone," said Offerman.

The cast also had the restaurant's world famous shrimp cocktail.

"That horseradish is pretty serious. I went light on that, but it was good," said Ansari, who plays the role of Tom Haverford.

More than 50 local actors got the call to play waiters and restaurant patrons, including James Payne.

"My response was, 'Is that a real question?' Absolutely. I'll take it," Payne said.

St. Elmo provided the meals.

"Breakfast and all of the food that we're preparing for the actual shoot," said St. Elmo Steak House General Manager Chris Ratay.

The extras put together their own wardrobe, including Adrienne Atkins.

"I love this Infinity scarf. It goes with just about everything," Atkins said.

"I do this for a living, so it was exciting, because it's the first sitcom I've been able to do so. It's been a lot of fun," said local actor Tom Sparx.

The real fun comes when the tape rolls and a local star gets a speaking role, like Pacers center Roy Hibbert.

"Today is like a magical day. You wouldn't believe all the stuff we got. We got a couple of Indiana Pacers that we're filming with. Newt Gingrich just walked in here, wanting to get lunch," said Chris Pratt, who plays the role of Andy Dwyer.

"I was on my way to see Governor (Mitch) Daniels and interview him about innovation," said Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"His last name is Gingrich. My character's last name is Gergich and, of course, our writers, within seconds, come up with a really funny bit," said Jim O'Heir, Jerry Gergich on the show.

Within minutes, Morehead also had a last-minute cameo role.

"How did I do?" she asked Schur.

"You did amazingly well," Schur replied.

"Would you call me back?" asked Morehead.

"Absolutely!" Schur said.

"Can I get a speaking line next time?" Morehead asked further.

"Absolutely," he said.

"That's really the tenor of the show is improvisation and being able to say 'Hey, whatever happens, just roll with it'," Pratt said.

But there was no mistake in choosing Indianapolis. Rob Lowe has family in Indiana and no stranger at St. Elmo, where his picture hangs on the restaurant's Wall of Fame. He even helped seal the deal to take the show on the road.

"Mary Rogers, she wants to know what do you love most about Indianapolis?," Morehead asked, sharing a question from an Eyewitness News viewer.

"You guys have two of my favorite franchises, the Colts and the Pacers," Lowe said.

Another scene was shot inside Lucas Oil Stadium, the day after the Colts comeback win against the Detroit Lions.

"We are picking the right day to come to Indianapolis and work with Andrew Luck," Lowe said. "He had one of those games that begins the legend."

Now, the legend fulfills the bachelor party fantasy of character Andy Dwyer, to catch a touchdown pass thrown by Luck.



Stay tuned for Part 2 of Andrea's special report in February. She takes us behind-the-scenes of Parks and Recreation as portions were shot inside Lucas Oil Stadium. She gets rare access to Colts Owner Jim Irsay, wide receiver Reggie Wayne and quarterback Andrew Luck as they rehearsed and filmed the show. @

The January 17 episode of NBC's "Parks and Recreation" featured some familiar places and faces. Eyewitness News Anchor Andrea Morehead was invited to the closed set in December 2012, when scenes were shot in Indianapolis.