Viewers of the hit ABC sitcom Suburgatory may have noticed something special in the season 2 finale last night, in an episode called "Apocalypse Meow". Lead character Tessa (played by Jane Levy) used the free, open source office productivity software Apache OpenOffice on her Mac, to outline the pros and cons of getting revenge on her nemesis Dalia:
Those with access (and this may have geo-based access restrictions) can see scene starting at the 8:50 mark on ABC's online version of the episode.
This is an example of "stage dressing". The designer in a play, movie or television show has a particular "look" in mind, to bring life to the script. The designer then works with the properties directory to provision the right props. Most of it is physical stuff, like furniture, lamps or other similar items. But contemporary shows, with characters interacting with technology, also use a digital form of stage dressing.
Here's another example, from Roman Polanski's 2011 comedy Carnage:
The Apache OpenOffice project has received several requests to use our
product in this way, in movies and in US and UK television programs. Why use OpenOffice in such situations? One guess is that securing rights to use open source software like Apache OpenOffice is easier than getting rights for commercial products. Another guess is that using open source avoids potential conflicts with advertisers who are selling competing products. And another guess is that they avoid showing commercial products unless they are paid for placement. I don't really know. But in any case we're pleased to see open source software, and especially Apache OpenOffice, featured in the media.