June 22, 2018
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New Gloucester furniture maker to appear on NBC’s ‘Parks and Recreation’

By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — New Gloucester furniture maker Chris Becksvoort will appear on Thursday night’s episode of the NBC comedy series “Parks and Recreation” after actor Nick Offerman, an admirer of Becksvoort’s work, invited him to Hollywood for a cameo.

“In his spare time, he’s a woodworker, and he’s been reading my articles in Fine Woodworking,” said Becksvoort, who has been a contributing editor for the magazine since 1989.

Both Becksvoort and Offerman have been coverboys for Fine Woodworking, and had met

in September. Becksvoort received an email from the producers of “Parks and Recreation” asking if he would consider flying out for an episode.

“They pick you up at the airport in a limo and it’s unbelievable,” he recalled of the shoot, which took place in early October. “The money they throw at those shows for a half hour [of finished video] is amazing.”

Becksvoort, a world-renowned expert in Shaker furniture, has been sought after by big names before. His workshop is decorated with signed pictures of virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma, for whom he made a music stand, and the members of the alternative country-blues band Cowboy Junkies, for whom he made a chest and other items over the years.

On “Parks and Recreation,” Becksvoort said he was recruited to play a cameo as a passer-by at a woodworkers’ convention taking part in the fictional world of the show. Initially, he said his character just walked through the scene, but Offerman asked to add a few lines to the script in which he briefly interacts with some of the stars.

Becksvoort said he doesn’t know if those interactions will make the final cut, but he said Offerman also made sure his on-camera persona — fan favorite rec director Ron Swanson — was as much of a fan of Becksvoort’s work as his off-camera self.

“They do make a mention of me in the show, which is nice,” Becksvoort said. “Ron Swanson is at this event and he says something like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Chris Becksvoort, master of Shaker design!’”

The furniture maker, who on Monday was crafting a four-post bed in his New Gloucester workshop, described his day in Hollywood as alternating moments of “intense activity” and “waiting around.”

“As a walk-on, you get paid a standard wage of $8 an hour,” he said. “I thought that was fine — they were feeding us and I got the flight out there. But as soon as you say something, you’re considered an ‘actor,’ and your pay goes up from $60 for the day to $800.”

Also guest starring on the episode featuring Becksvoort was Lucy Lawless, who rose to fame as the title character on the cult television hit “Xena: The Warrior Princess” and who now plays a recurring role on “Parks and Recreation.”

“It was amazing how organized and professional the whole operation was,” Becksvoort recalled. “Lucy would be waiting for her scene in sneakers, and then they’d call for her scene and people would come up and pull her sneakers off and put high heels on her, then [powder] her face and touch up her hair, and she’d go on.”

Becksvoort is not the first Mainer to make a guest appearance on “Parks and Recreation.” U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, also appeared in an episode that aired earlier this fall along with a number of her staff members.

“It’s different from life on a dirt road here in New Gloucester,” Becksvoort said.

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