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'Parks and Recreation': Ms. Knope goes to Washington, meets senators -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

She has dozens of Washington Monument figurines. She keeps framed photos of Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice, and Janet Reno in her office. She once fashioned a Geraldine Ferraro action figure out of a photograph and a popsicle stick. In other words, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) loves the heck out of government. So it seems fitting that in the season 5 premiere of Parks and Recreation (NBC, Thursday, 9:30 p.m.), she journeys to Washington, D.C., where she visits with her beau, Ben (Adam Scott), who’s working on a congressional campaign, and takes care of some official Pawnee business.

But that’s just the tip of the Lautenberg. (As in Frank? Democrat senator from New Jersey? The oldest serving — Okay, okay, I’ll stop.) When Ben takes her to a high-powered cocktail party, Leslie gets up close and personal with such real-life U.S. senators as John McCain, Barbara Boxer, and Olympia Snowe. Try not to get choked up as you watch her encounter with two of those politicians in the following clip. READ FULL STORY

'Parks and Recreation': Sneak a peek at season 5 -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

It’s been a trying four months, trudging through week after week after week with no new episodes of Parks and Recreation. Dare we say, though, you handled it like a (three-legged) Champion, and now your patience will literally be rewarded as season 5 kicks off this Thursday.

So, what can you expect in the coming year from the parks people of Pawnee? Perhaps you’ve heard rumbles of a girlfriend for Ron (Nick Offerman) who’s not named Tammy. Or a trip for Leslie (Amy Poehler) to Washington, D.C., where she will meet some high-powered political players. Or that Jonathan “Mike from Breaking Bad” Banks will be playing Ben’s dad. READ FULL STORY

'Parks and Rec': New video sums up Leslie Knope's campaign

Dying for more Leslie Knope?

The wait is almost over — the fifth season of Parks and Recreation will premiere this Thursday at 9:30 ET. For those that don’t have time to marathon the whole last season (which culminated in Knope’s defeat of Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) for the new City Council representative of Pawnee), NBC has put together a quick catch-up video of the campaign conveniently reminding you of all the jokes you forgot made you crack up the first time around. Not to mention a few good emotional gut punches — Leslie Knope’s finale voiceover still gets me.

Check it all out below: READ FULL STORY

'Parks and Rec': 'Breaking Bad' actor Jonathan Banks to play Ben's dad

Ben Wyatt’s dad is… Mike Ehrmentraut?!

It’s true: EW has confirmed that Jonathan Banks, better known to Breaking Bad fans as stoic fixer Mike, has booked a guest role on Parks and Recreation‘s fifth season. (HitFix first reported the news.) Banks will play the yet-unnamed father of Adam Scott’s character, Ben Wyatt. He’ll likely appear in the season’s sixth episode.

“We were working [on] the character description of Ben’s dad,” Parks co-creator Mike Schur told HitFix, “and I said aloud, ‘He should act like Mike Ehrmentraut. So somebody said, ‘Well, why can’t we just get Jonathan Banks?'” Schur and his team are all huge fans of both Banks’s work and AMC’s Emmy-winning series: “To me, at this exactly moment in time, he’s everyone I know’s favorite actor,” Schur explained. “After that arc, he’s the actor about which we’ve spent the most time talking in the room over the last year.”

Banks joins a list of Parks season 5 guest stars that already includes Lucy Lawless and Senators John McCain, Barbara Boxer, and Olympia Snowe. The sitcom returns Thursday, Sept. 20 on NBC.

Read more:
Mike from ‘Breaking Bad’ in a ’70s menstruation PSA — VIDEO
‘Breaking Bad’ ‘Say My Name’ review: The new classic Walter, all-rotten, all the time
‘Parks and Rec’ blooper reel just as great as you’d hope — VIDEO

'Parks and Recreation': Ron Swanson gets a new love interest

Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) may have met his match. Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess, Spartacus) will guest on NBC’s Parks and Recreation this fall as his new love interest, EW has confirmed. She’s set to appear in at least two episodes as a single mother named Diane who catches Swanson’s eye when he and Andy (Chris Pratt) respond to a problem she brings to the Parks Department. (Ron’s working? What?!) She’ll first appear in season 5’s third episode on Oct. 4.

Earlier this summer, Offerman told EW he and Parks and Rec EP Michael Schur had talked about a change in Swanson’s love life. “We’re hoping to maybe see a new relationship develop for Ron,” he said. “One thing Ron’s never succeeded at is maintaining a happy romantic relationship for any length of time. Maybe we’ll get to explore that a little bit.”

Read more:
‘Parks and Recreation': Senators John McCain, Barbara Boxer, and Olympia Snowe in D.C. episode
Nick Offerman talks the toughest thing he’s had to do as Ron Swanson
Emmy Watch: ‘Parks and Recreation’ EP Michael Schur on ‘The Debate,’ why Amy Poehler is due
Aziz Ansari talks Tom’s Oh-no-nos list

'Parks and Recreation': Senators John McCain, Barbara Boxer, and Olympia Snowe in D.C. episode

From Pawnee to D.C.! NBC comedy Parks and Recreation will head to our nation’s capital to shoot an upcoming episode that will include cameo appearances by U.S. senators John McCain, Barbara Boxer, and Olympia Snowe. The episode’s plot revolves around newly elected city councilwoman/all-around fan of politics Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) journeying to Washington, D.C. to visit her boyfriend, Ben (Adam Scott), who had accepted an offer in the season 4 finale to work on a congressional campaign. While she is there, Ben invites her to attend a cocktail party, where they will cross paths with the aforementioned politicians.

Ben and Leslie won’t be the only Parks characters seen inside the Beltway. Andy (Chris Pratt) will join Leslie on her trip so he can see his wife, April (Aubrey Plaza), who is now working with Ben.

The episode will air Sept. 27 as part of season 5, which begins Sept. 20.

Read more:
‘Parks and Recreation’ finale: Exec producer Michael Schur on why Leslie [SPOILER] the election, what’s next

Emmy Watch: 'Parks and Recreation' EP Michael Schur on 'The Debate,' why Amy Poehler is due

Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to return nomination ballots, EW.com is running a series called Emmy Watch, featuring highlight clips and interviews with actors, producers, and writers whom EW TV critic Ken Tucker has on his wish list for the nominations announcement on July 19.

In EW.com’s annual Season Finale Awards, readers voted Parks and Recreation‘s season 4 ender the episode most likely to earn someone an Emmy — that person being Amy Poehler. Parks and Recreation exec producer Michael Schur, who thinks there are about a dozen episodes from last season that could do that for Poehler, would obviously love that. “It’s very important to me that people know she’s never won an Emmy before,” Schur says. “I watched this happen with Steve Carell. I think if you ask the average person on the street how many Emmys Steve Carell won for playing Michael Scott, they would probably say, ‘I don’t know. Nine?’ The answer is zero, and it bummed me out deeply. Everyone who worked on that show with Steve feels this way. And now Amy is kinda in this weird similar position where she’s been nominated a bunch of times, and she’s been so good at what she’s done for so long, that I think everybody just assumes she’s been properly rewarded for that and she hasn’t. I hope this is the year that changes.”

Could 2012 also bring the show, which broke into the Best Comedy category last year, its first Emmy as well? Below, Schur takes us inside the episode he hopes voters will revisit. READ FULL STORY

Emmy Watch: Aziz Ansari talks Tom's Oh-no-nos list

Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to return nomination ballots, EW.com is running a series called Emmy Watch, featuring highlight clips and interviews with actors, producers, and writers whom EW TV critic Ken Tucker has on his wish list for the nominations announcement on July 19.

Season 4 of NBC’s Parks and Recreation revealed more about the extravagant taste of Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) — both at work, with his doomed business venture Entertainment 720, and at home, with his Diamond Collection bed and breakfast amenities. “It’s always just kinda like, ‘Well, where did he get all this money from to buy all this stuff? It’s never really quite explained,” Ansari says with a laugh. “That’s the fun with all the characters in our show: They’re all very different from what you normally see on TV. They’re weirder than most TV characters, but the more you see into their world, the funnier it is.”

To that end, season 4 also taught us about the things Tom considers potential deal breakers in a relationship. No. 3 on his “Oh-no-nos” list: Not loving ’90s R&B music. He was shocked when Ann (Rashida Jones) didn’t know who Ginuwine is after Donna (Retta) shared that he’s her cousin. Watch a clip below. Ansari takes us inside the scene, which just might help you understand why you and Ann like wannabe playa Tom (even if it’s against your better judgment). READ FULL STORY

'Homeland,' 'Community,' Christina Hendricks among Critics' Choice Award winners

The second annual Critics’ Choice Television Award winners were announced last night, and Homeland was named Best Drama Series, following up its Golden Globe win in January. Claire Danes was named Best Actress for her role in the series (Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and Giancarlo Esposito snagged Drama Actor awards). Other big winners included Community for Best Comedy, The Voice for Best Reality Series — Competition, and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon for Best Talk Show.

In what is sure to foreshadow an Emmy showdown, funny ladies Amy Poehler and Zooey Deschanel were both named Best Actress in a Comedy Series, with Louis C.K. honored as Best Actor in a Comedy. Emmy winners Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen won for Best Supporting Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series for their work on Modern Family. The only repeat winner from last year, Christina Hendricks won Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role on Mad Men.

Take a look at the full list of winners below: READ FULL STORY

Emmy Watch: Nick Offerman talks the toughest thing he's had to do as Ron Swanson

Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to return nomination ballots, EW.com is running a series called Emmy Watch, featuring highlight clips and interviews with actors, producers, and writers whom EW TV critic Ken Tucker has on his wish list for the nominations announcement on July 19.

Four seasons into NBC’s Parks and Recreation, Nick Offerman has turned burly libertarian Ron Swanson into one of TV’s most well-defined characters. It’s impossible to read the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness and not hear his voice in your head, which makes it easy to take Offerman’s deadpan performance for granted. Perhaps that’s why we’re hoping Emmy voters revisit the September 2011 episode “Ron and Tammys,” in which Ron’s first ex-wife, Tammy 1 (guest star Patricia Clarkson), turns him into the anti-Ron Swanson (a “neutered wimp,” to borrow Leslie Knope’s words). Watch a clip below. Offerman reflects on his transformation.  READ FULL STORY

'Parks and Recreation': Exec producer Michael Schur gives you 10 teasers for tonight's season finale

It’s D-Day. Or rather, E-Day. Will the citizens of Pawnee reward Leslie Knope’s hard work with a plush city council seat on election day, or will they force her to sit on a metaphorical whoopee cushion? We shall find out tonight on “Win, Lose, or Draw,” the season finale of Parks and Recreation (NBC, 9:30 p.m.).  “What’s nice about this episode is that it’s not just about Leslie’s election,” notes Parks executive producer Michael Schur. “Every character has an emotional situation that they’re dealing with. You won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for that kind of story line. Also, Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) is in it. So if you’re looking for something else, we have something for you too.”

Schur provided EW with nine other hints about the finale, which you can read below: READ FULL STORY

'Parks and Recreation' finale: Did April just delete the Parks Department? -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

The season 4 finale of Parks and Recreation promises to answer the question: Will Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) win the city council election? But that’s not the only one tackled in the episode. It seems that April (Aubrey Plaza) may have just screwed up royally by deleting all files from the Parks Department. Can her man, Andy (Chris Pratt), help her out of this electronic jam and save the day? READ FULL STORY

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