Earlier during the pandemic, director Benjamin Weinstein, who’s repped out of Smuggler, captured the humorous side of agency life under lockdown in his comedic series “Join Meeting.”
The short films are like “The Office” meets Zoom and follow the uncomfortable, awkward interactions of colleagues at a small ad agency. Among the characters are Jeff, the bumbling senior account guy always trying a little too hard to be one of the gang, take-no-prisoners Chloe, who never fails to call it like it is and the more easy-going creatives Mike, Tim and Angie.
The second round picks up where the last one left off—the team is in the midst of trying to figure out a plan of action for a major client in the midst of the pandemic. During a big pow-wow, however, an unexpected visitor drops in—Terry Crews.
The actor, TV host and former pro football player thought he was going to be sharing baking tips with fellow members of his sourdough club (his starter has been in the family for generations, he says). But just one wrong digit on the meeting ID led to a bit of delightful serendipity.
The Crews-bomb turns out to be not just a thrilling pick-me-up for the agency drones in the middle of their dreary work meeting. It ends up being the injection of creative firepower and nurturing the team really needed.
Crews jumps right into the brainstorm after Angie suggests the client take the honest, genuine approach and lean into the coronavirus crisis. Crews, from his experience “American’s Got Talent,” says he believes she’s on the right track. “When we were doing ‘AGT’ I thought it would have been really disingenuous to ignore what was happening in the world—it makes you look very out of touch," he offers. "Talk about tone deaf.”
All this, not surprisingly, contradicts attention-craving account guy Jeff’s thoughts on where to go. From there, more hijinks ensue and [spoiler alert] the crew ends up making Crews an official part of the team.
Crews is the perfect casting choice—his role as unwitting creative tracks with his polymathic history. In ad circles, he may be best known as one of Old Spice’s most outrageous frontmen, but he’s also a multi-talented artist. Not not only can he make music with his pecs, and his mouth, he’s also a painter and illustrator (who even created one of Ad Age’s covers) and designed furniture.
It turns out however, that Crews was not part of the original plan. “Terry’s manager saw the first round and came up with the idea of him making an appearance,” Weinstein says. “We loved that suggestion, so he shared the series with Terry, and fortunately he was totally into it.”
Weinstein says that he and his team knew that they wanted to take the series further, but Crews was the kick in the pants to get the next round going. He and his collaborators had been in the midst of trying to figure out how to make the next round different and had been kicking around some ideas, “but once Terry was officially on board, everything took shape very quickly.”
Now, Weinstein says he and the team are having conversations with partners on turning the series into a more conventional TV show that explores the characters’ lives in and out of Zoom. As for whether Crews will continue his role, “the job he was offered in episode 5 is available to him for as long as he likes,” Weinstein says.