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"Parks and Recreation" jumps into the book business with "Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America"

"Parks and Recreation" deputy director Leslie Knope (a character who exists only on TV) will publish a book about Pawnee (a place every bit as fictional as Knope).

By Husna Haq / June 16, 2011

A book attributed to fictional character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler on "Parks and Recreation") is part of NBC's successful attempt to build extensive fantasy worlds around its hit shows.

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Leslie Knope, upbeat deputy director of the Parks and Recreation department in Pawnee, Ind., is penning a bold new book about her favorite place on earth. “Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America” will hit shelves this October.

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The only thing is that Leslie Knope doesn’t actually exist. Nor does Pawnee. But in TV land, that’s not a problem.

Ms. Knope, in fact, is the blindingly cheerful star, played by Amy Poehler, of the NBC comedy “Parks and Recreation,” set in the fictional Midwestern town of Pawnee, Ind. Knope’s voice in the book is not her own, but that of authors Michael Schur, co-creator and executive producer of “Parks and Recreation,” and Nate DiMeo, a former public radio producer and founder of the podcast “The Memory Palace.”

“The ever-expanding town of Pawnee has become its own character in our show, and we're thrilled that we got to accelerate that expansion in one giant, goofy 240-page comedy book,” Mr. Schur told the Hollywood Reporter.

The book, from NBC Universal and Hyperion Books, will explore fictional events in the fictional town’s fictional history, such as the time all of Pawnee was on fire, or the brief period in the 1970s when the town was taken over by a cult leader named Zorp, or its ongoing raccoon infestation (all fictional).

If you’re noticing a trend here, you’re not alone.

NBC (the undisputed leader in this trend) has mastered the art of building extensive (fictional) fantasy worlds around its hit shows.

There’s the Dunder Mifflin Inc. Scranton Newsletter, on the website of the hit NBC series, “The Office,” the latest issue of which includes employee Pam Halpert (played by Jenna Fischer) sharing big news, Dunder Mifflin-style: “Hi everyone! I have a very important, exciting announcement. I hope you're sitting down... Are you ready? I, Pamela Halpert, will be taking over ... the Dunder Mifflin newsletter!!”

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