Got questions for ‘The Office’ writers panel?

I have the crazy honor of moderating The Office writers panel at the Paley Center in L.A. next week.

I’ll be asking questions of the panel; if you have one, submit it in a comment below! Make sure to include your first name (or screename) and city, so I can introduce each question like “This next question comes from Carly in New York, and she asks …”

Scheduled to appear: Charlie Grandy, Ryan Koh, Anthony Farrell, Justin Spitzer, Brent Forrester, Lester Lewis, Aaron Shure, Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg, B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, Jennifer Celotta, Michael Schur, Greg Daniels

If you have a question for a specific writer, that’s cool, too!

DEADLINE: I’m closing this post to new questions tonight. I’m holing up at the library tomorrow to pick questions and prepare …

Am I nervous and excited? You have no idea. :)

P.S.: Yes, Paley will film the event; unfortunately, they usually put only a small clip of the event online, and you’ll have to physically go to the Paley Center in L.A. to view the event in its entirety. I won’t be able to “cover” this event the way I normally would if I were an audience member; I’m hoping some of you will be there to take notes and file reports for OfficeTally later! :)

178 comments

  1. Did you guys know from the beginning that Amy Ryan’s character would be temporary?

    Anthony-WA

  2. Congratulations, Tanster! You deserve that honor! My question is really simple…how do the writers determine who writes what episode? (i.e. how do you determine who is writing the Christmas episode, etc.?)

    Thank you so much!

  3. Any word on the Office spinoff?

    How much improvision is made to the season’s storylines? Is the upcoming season heavily scripted up front with no room for changes? If not, provide an example where a past storyline was supposed to go one way but went somewhere else.

  4. Question from Maria in Florida:

    For personal items like Pam’s two engagement rings and Angela’s engagement ring, how much input does the writers and actors have on those items?

  5. Congratulations Tanster! How exciting?

    My question:

    Do you feel the pressure to keep Jim and Pam an item because the fans love them so much together?

    Veronique – Quebec, Canada

  6. What is the influence of the awesome “OfficeTally” website on the writing of the show?

    Clipnotavailablefromlocation from Canada

    [from tanster: i can answer that question right now. 0%. :) ]

  7. Knot in Texas asks….

    When the show started, Steve Carell was a mini-star and the rest of the actors were virtually unknown. Now, Steve is a mega-star. John, Jenna and Rainn are in more and more movies. Even guys like Craig Robinson are becoming more and more well known. Has the success of the actors outside of The Office had any effect on your ability to write for the characters? When you write, do you write things for Michael, Dwight, Jim, Pam and Darryl or for Steve, Rainn, John, Jenna and Craig?

  8. Do you all have a long term plan for the next few seasons, in terms of marriages, babies, etc.? Or do you make things up as you go along?

    Katie
    Long Island

  9. That’s awesome, Tanster!

    I watched “Weight Loss” with someone who only watches every once in awhile and he found the episode extremely confusing. I had to stop and explain what was going on multiple times. That being said, I loved the episode. My question is, are you trying to cater more to the serious fan this year with all the callbacks and fast pace of the episodes? – Eileen, San Francisco

  10. Congrats Tanster!

    My question is – Will the characters ever have to acknowledge that the ‘documentary’ has been shown on TV? For example surely one day they will all find out about Angela and Andy?

    Jessica in Edinburgh (UK)

  11. Nervous and excited? TWSS.

    Is there any character’s dialogue that is best written by a certain member of the staff?

    Jeremiah – St Louis by way of Chicago

  12. Of any episode you wrote or helped write, which “line” are you most proud of? Who came up with the first “that’s what she said”?

    Diana – So California

  13. Congrats TanMonster!

    Because of the spoiler potential of this question, the answer can be a simple ‘yes or no’:
    Do you guys already know of one or two scenes that will definitely be in the very last episode of The Office?

    (I’m hoping that last episode will come at the end of Season 25)

  14. Lauren from Shelbyville, Kentucky:

    Once you have produced a script how much is actually used when shooting The Office and/or how much actually goes into the finished producted (after scene cuts and improvisation)?

    Thanks Tanster! I’m sure you will have an amazing time, don’t be nervous! I would love to be you right now…and okay, I’d probably be nervous…but don’t be, hopefully they won’t bite. :) It’s an amazing honor.

  15. Question from Erin in Kentucky–

    I can’t see this show working without Pam and Jim as part of it, and with Pam pursuing a career that would eventually take her away from Dunder Mifflin, and assuming that Jim still doesn’t want to be a paper salesman forever, how much longer can you see the show continuing? Or do you see the show continuing on without those characters at some point?

  16. wow I really wish I could spell. Finished product…no ‘ed’ I have no idea why I put that.

  17. How often do jokes get rewritten on the Office, or do the jokes that you come up with stay pretty much intact from the moment you come up with them to the moment they are put on screen?

    Ben – Dallas

  18. First off, congrats, Tanster :D

    Now, my question…

    Michael Scott is a character that’s been pushed to the edge of plausibility and likability plenty during the 4+ seasons of the Office. I was wondering where you, as writers, draw the line for Michael, or is there even one? Have there been Michael ideas that were dropped for being too outrageous?

  19. The show is still strong, but some critics (and fans even) have been saying that the show has become too wacky and unrealistic for its own good as far back as season 3, but it really became mentioned more during the last season. What do you guys think; is that just a natural evolution that many sitcoms (see Seinfeld, NewsRadio) go through or was it a conscience effort to make the show more goofy?

    Not that I’m complaining, as I’m not a big fan of the character, but how come it seems like the first scenes to be deleted from every episode are Meredith bits? When she’s not getting hit by a car or taking her top off at a Christmas party, she’s barely there–and in “Weight Loss,” there was no explanation whatsoever for what was wrong with her face in the episode itself.

    -Anthony, Ashburn, VA

  20. Congrats Tanster!

    Question: What was the one scene or storyline that was debated the most in the writer’s room, that eventually made it onto the screen? Any intense arm wrestling matches you’d like to tell the fans about?

    – Liz in CA

  21. In previous seasons, you (the writers) pick a character to do the main story arch. Season 2 was Jim dealing with Pam being in love with another man, season 3 was Pam finding herself. Season 4 was Michael dealing with his surroundings i.e. Jan, Ryan’s promotion, and his money troubles. My question is how do you decide which character to choose to be in the main story arch or does all fall into place when you write the episodes?

  22. Congrats Tanster!

    Okay my question..

    Since seeing Weight Loss, I’ve gone back to season 2 and 3 and it’s crazy how far so many characters have gone. I’d say the biggest leap is Jim and Pam, with her leaving one engagement and entering into another one in a few short years. Did you guys ever think back then about how far the relationship would go? Did you always see marriage in their future?

    – Caity from Chicago

  23. Whether you know it or not, you have many Canadian fans of your show. How about writing in a shout out to Canada in an upcoming show,eh?

    Dan in Canada

  24. How much has the show changed from your original conception of it? Were you ever surprised by a direction you ended up taking with characters or story lines?

    – Brigette from Lansing, Mi

    (Have fun, Tanster! Yay!!!)

  25. My question (from Katie in SC) is similar to Sticious’s. I watch The Office religiously. One of my friends had never seen it, but watched the Diwali episode with me on DVD. It took us well over an hour to watch because I repeatedly had to pause the DVD and explain things. Question: Originally, did they intend to make a sitcom that was as complex and intricate as The Office has become? Why or why not?

    Congrats, Tanster!

  26. Congratulations, Tanster, on the opportunity. How awesome!

    Here’s my question (from Marivic in Washington, DC):
    At the Office Convention, y’all spoke of a continuity bible of sorts that hasn’t been updated since S2. As much as I love the writing and all of you, the continuity faltered a bit in S4. Has the continuity bible been updated (or found) and what measures were taken to make sure the continuity is kept to the best that it could be? Thanks!

  27. I’m fascinated to see the direction the show takes when the documentary crew finally stops filming – seriously, how long can they be filming? I want to know how things will go down once everyone in the world of The Office sees what others have said/done and how the general public will react to them. Will they become ‘famous’? What’s the game plan for when that transition will happen?

    Melissa from Toledo, OH

    P.S. Congrats Tanster! How awesome! :)

  28. Hey!
    This is from about 20 people over here in New York…
    We are dying to know if there is going to be another office convention!?!

    PLEASE!?! The Spring would be a perfect time to do it!

    Make our dreams come true

  29. Congratulations, Tanster. Your hard work on this site has SO earned you this!

    Question from Rachel in Detroit:

    Which actor/actress do you love writing dialogue for and why?

  30. (Whooo-eeee – You are going to be an awesome moderator! Congratulations! Thanks for letting us submit questions!)

    There are so many different writers yet the feel for the show remains consistent, like it has its own voice, which is really cool. What drives you creatively when you’re writing a script? Is it more the idea for a great storyline, or is it a connection with individual characters and where they’re going?

    Which writers inspire you, or which books can you read over and over?

  31. Have you ever made storyline adjustments based on input from fans or opinions from fans?

    Angela Bernard Schrute in Canada (near Toronto, ON)
    Canadian fans love The Office!

    P.S. Congrats Tanster, on being selected to moderate. You are awesome. I cannot live without this site.

  32. Whoops, I was supposed to say at the beginning: What’s the Dealio from Seattle, Washington.

  33. We’re so proud of you, Tanster! We know you will do a fantastic job. :)

    My question is more for the writers individually. What is your all-time favorite Office scene and why?

  34. Question from Mark in Texas —

    Some fans have expressed the opinion that the show is better when an episode takes place primarily within the confines of the Scranton office.

    Do you consciously try to limit how often the show takes place outside the office and what are the advantages/disadvantages of taking the characters out of their normal workspace?

  35. I can’t think of a question (I’m sure fellow tallyheads will think of plenty of great ones),but congratulations Tanster! You really deserve such an honor. :)

  36. My name is Dave Esposito and I’m from Silly Philly, PA and my question is…

    which actor improvises the most? and are there ever parts in a scene where you haven’t written dialog and just tell the actor to improvise?

  37. Congratulations Tanster!!

    My ques….

    Did the writers consider two psychologists, Dan LEVINSON and Roger GOULD, when naming “Jan Levinson,” and the once “Jan Levinson-Gould?”

    These two men came up with a theory concerning mid-life crises. I also find it intriguing that JAN is so close to DAN. Thank you tanster! I hope this can be one of the questions answered! It’s been on my mind for so long. =D

  38. So far some great questions and I know you’ll get many more so I just wanted to say, “Congratulations”.

  39. Question(s) from Sonni in Vienna, Austria

    Is there anything that’s “typical” for each of you (the writers)? Something only you (one of them) would write, or put into an episode?

    I read somewhere online that this year, the budget for making episodes is significantly higher than it was the years before. Assuming this is true, how does this affect the storylines, what do you plan on doing differently than before?

    What quote or scene that made it into an episode were you most surprised about, that it wasn’t censored and that NBC actually aired it, I mean?


    and one for Tanster: Is someone going film the writers’ panel? Oh, and of course: congratulations! This is beyond awesome!

  40. My name is Delmy and I’m from Chicago and my question is…

    What inspired you to become a writer? How did you get from watching a tv show to WRITING for a tv show?

    **Congrats, Tanster! You are going to be amazing!**

  41. My question is actually for you, Tanster:

    Do you know if this event will be filmed or recorded or transcripted for those of us poor slobs who don’t live anywhere near LA and are too broke to make the trip?

    As always, this site is what feeds my Office addiction and keeps it alive and healthy. Thanks! :-)

    [from tanster: hi joann, Paley Center will videotape the event; however, I believe you’ll have to physically go to the Paley Center in order to view it. they usually put a small clip of it online. no transcribing as far as i know. they are also pretty strict about prohibiting others from filming or taking pictures during the event. i know, it kind of sucks. :( ]

  42. Another question from Kenna in Kentucky, if that’s okay. :)

    We saw Paul branch out into directing with Season 4’s ‘Money.’ Do any of the rest of you hold similar aspirations?

  43. do different writers tend to write characters a certain way? like write michael more obnoxious or angela a little softer etc.? when you watch an episode do you really notice the style of one writer or another, particularly in the way they portray a character?

    bridget, oakland california (oak-town!)

  44. Emma from Long Island, NY:
    Who was your favorite guest star/minor character of the show?
    Thanks so much!!

  45. Angie from Delmont, PA

    What are you finding to be your biggest obstacle when writing about the Jim/Pam dynamic for season 5?

  46. Michael – San Francisco, CA

    Firstly, I just want to say that I think the true testament to the quality of this show is in how many UK Office fans, like myself, you have converted into US Office fans. The show has clearly progressed in its style and voice, from American actors and writers doing a British style comedy to American actors and writers creating an American style comedy. Do you ever consciously reference the style or comedic sensibility of the original series? Do you try to keep it in the back of your mind as a template for what made The Office so unique, or is this show it’s own individual entity now? Do Ricky or Stephen ever submit input?

  47. Do all of the writers agree on a storyline before it is put into an episode, or have there ever been storylines that end up in an episode that other writers maybe weren’t so happy about?

    Shannon–Fraser, MI

  48. Congrats! What a fantastic opportunity!

    My question – Be brave and tell what one moment on the show that just didn’t work the way you thought it would. Any regrettable moments or bits?

  49. Sandra from Spain.

    What would be your dream storyline or episode if no censorship were involved? I only ask because even though I love the US version of the Office more, i believe that the British version has much more gritty and realistic dialog.

  50. Laura from the Twin Cities asks:

    How often are you surprised by either overwhelming love for or criticism of certain scenes/storylines? Can you give an example of a time fan reaction was different than you imagined it would be – either positively or negatively?

  51. Question from Danny in Atlanta:

    Is it easier to write the 40 minute episodes or 20 minute episodes?

  52. Congratulations tanster! What a fantastic opportunity :)

    My question:

    When that sad day comes when it’s time to wrap up “The Office”, what would be your ideal finale?

    -Caitlin, from Riverside, CA

  53. Jeff, Vancouver, British Columbia

    Please take us through what a writer does on a normal work day? What about writers that are involved in the writing of the episode currently being shot?

  54. This is my first time posting here, and I LOVE this site! Congrats on being chosen to moderate the panel!
    Jenny from Ocala, FL asks:
    Did any of the writers expect The Office to be such a huge hit here in the States?

  55. I want to know if the writers ever worry about being backed into a corner. They’ve established these dreams for Jim and Pam beyond Dunder-Mifflin, yet there don’t seem to be many avenues for them to actually escape the office and still be characters on The Office? How do they navigate the dichotomy between what’s best for the show and what’s “best” for the characters?

  56. I don’t have a question, but congrats Tanster! Couldn’t think of any better person for the job.

  57. Cat from England.

    There’s been some amazing guest stars on The Office (Academy Award nominated Amy’s for a start). If money were no object, who would you love to have on the show as a guest star and what role would they play?

    So glad you’re getting the opportunity to represent the fans Tanster, there’s no one better qualified!

  58. Okay I know I already asked one but my head was clouded with fangirlyness, haha. I actually have another question..

    I’d ideally like to write for television when I graduate college, and I was just wondering if any of you have any useful advice or tips to finding your way in the business.

  59. Stephanie from Atlanta.

    Would The Office be a huge hit like it is now 10 years ago? Without the huge amount of fan sites (like OfficeTally!), numerous downloads from iTunes, and other Internet/Newfound technology media outlets, maybe a “cult” show like The Office wouldn’t have made it past a first season. What do you think? Were any of the writers involved in a show pre-blogging era that didn’t make it that you think might have made it nowadays?

  60. How much time is spent in the writers’ room coming up with Jim’s pranks? Are any of them from real-life experiences?

    Amy from NYC

  61. Do you think that the fact that some of the writers are also actors makes a difference in the writing process and in the overall show?

    — Michelle from Westport, CT

    (By the way, Tanster, will you tell us if you’re going to ask our question, and what the answers are?)

  62. Michael Scott is the reason for the existence of The Office, because without him, the show would just be a bunch of employees sitting around doing what they should. I do imagine, however, that writing his character could provide some challenges. What goes on in the Writers room when trying to maintain the balance of ridiculous, politically incorrect, cringe-worthy Michael and keeping him just sane enough, and enough of a good salesman to keep him from getting fired?

    Jen from Salt Lake City

  63. Stefanie in Illinois:

    I love that this show can have a major story line, such as Jim/Pam, and still maintain supporting characters with the same emphasis. With such a great ensemble cast, it must be difficult to successfully balance all of the different story lines. Which characters have the most potential for new story lines, and how are they chosen to balance out the show?

  64. DJ Jazzy Flax from Los Angeles, CA

    Amy Ryan has been beyond fantastic as a guest star. Have there ever been any discussions to bring on other well-known actors? I’m not a big fan of stunt casting, but I would totally make an exception for Mr. Stephen Colbert *wink wink*. :P

    Btw, congrats on this most awesome gig, tanster!

  65. Seeing as many of you have projects other than The Office, I am curious as to how you balance writing for a television series and writing for a film or another show?

  66. Tanster, what an honor! We’re all so excited for you. I can’t even begin to think of heavy-duty questions for the writers.

    But I do have one for you. Any chance you can set up something where you can tape the panel? That would be the most AWESOME THING EVER. Please? Pretty pretty please? With cherries on top? (Unless cherries aren’t your thing)

  67. No question – just wanted to say congrats, Tanster – a well-deserved honour. (I’m sure you’ll be nervous, but try to have fun too!!)

  68. I have two questions…. choose whichever you like best (I bet you pick #1)

    1) Rewrite your ideal opening credits. Money no object – what would we see? A painting of the cast ala Family Ties? Mose screaming overlooking speeding motorboats ala CSI? Perhaps just updated scenes of the cast members? Seriously though – will there ever be a new opening credits sequence?

    2) When will we see guest stars like Tanster on the show? It has to be just a matter of time now right? (hehehe… you know you want to ask it Tanster!)

    From Joanna in Chicago

    [from tanster: my crazy fantasy is to have a walk-on part, just like Amy did last year. I would love to work for David Wallace, and have to walk into his office to hand him a sheet of paper to sign, while he is in there with Michael, scolding him for his latest goof-up. And you’re right, I won’t be asking that question. :) ]

  69. Congrats Miss Tanster! That is so exciting!

    My question to the writers of The Office is this, often characters’ talking heads seem to be direct responses or comments which are triggered by the documentary crew asking them a question or bringing up a certain topic. Do you have some concept of what question they are being asked or how the crew gets the character to confess something on camera?

    Rachel, Lewisburg, PA

  70. Congrats, Tanster!

    Bailey from Florida

    I was wondering if comments/opinions from the fans of The Office have any influence in the writing and story line of the show?

  71. Jen Halpert, Pittsburgh, PA

    Do you plan the storylines for all of the episodes before the season starts?

  72. I’m very interested in the collapse of Jan. What was the thinking behind it? Any plans to turn her around (please)? What role will she have going forward?

  73. Andrew from Florida

    I hear Stephen Merchant is directing an upcoming episode. Have there been any talks of Ricky writing/directing an episode some time in the future?

  74. Nicole – Toronto

    I’m writing a paper on television genres and chose to anaylse The Office. However, having some trouble figuring out what specific genre, if at all, the show belongs to. Care to help?

  75. Many of the writers and actors have struggled for years (as most do) prior to the success of The Office. What was your rock-bottom career moment, and how did you see your way back up?

  76. I don’t have a question, but I want to say congrats on this opportunity, and I really appreciate the fact that you ask us for questions and include us in this chance!

    Thank you Tanster!!!

  77. I don’t have a question for the writers of The Office, but I do have a question for you, Tanster! Do you know if any more tickets will become available closer to the date of the event? I was on the road to LA when they went on sale (just moved here) and they were sold out by the time I got the internet set up at my apartment! :( Any hope of cancellations, do you think?

  78. Heather in Champaign, IL:

    To any or all of the writers, what is your favorite joke you have written for an episode but was not in the final cut?

  79. Will Karen be involved with the show? Also, it would be great to see Karen with a kid and it’s Jim’s!

  80. Will there ever be an updated opening sequence? You updated it after Season 1 with a less-bald Steve. Pam and Dwight both look particularly different than their Season 1 counterparts.

  81. Congratulations Tanster! My question is: in a perfect world, how long would you like each episode to be?

    Koos
    San Jose, CA

  82. Some of the funniest lines for me that you all write are actually personal physical jokes, be it attacking someone’s weight, or some physical characteristic of a character, but yet the actor themselves has to take that joke slightly personal don’t they? Example being Michael asking Phyllis if her friend that she wants to set him up with could fit in a rowboat without tipping over? Is it hard to write these type of jokes?

    Thanks!

  83. Littlekidluvr from MA:

    Have you picked a name for Jan’s baby yet? If so, is it Toby Hunter Serenity-candles Levinson, just to tick off Michael? ;) (Of course, Michael will probably want to name the baby something like Michaela Sheryl Crow… Great Scott Productions… III.)

  84. Why did you decide not to show the scene(s) when Jim and Pam got together, after the end of Season 3 but before Fun Run at the beginning of Season 4? Why do they never talk about the past, the years of miscommunication, Roy? Will Roy ever return?

    – laundry&betrayal, NYC

  85. Megan in Nashville TN. Take us through a typical script-writing process. What happens from the time Greg says “here’s an idea for an episode, I want you to write it”, to the final edits?

  86. berry from Annapolis, MD

    In one word, what is it like to be a writer on The Office. Only one word. And congrats on a spectacular beginning to what is sure to be an amazing season.

    (also congrats to you tanster :))

  87. Sorry, Tanster! I forgot to include my info in my question!

    Will Ryan pursue his interest in Pam at all this season?

    Colin from Maine

  88. Calley in New York

    If you had to cross over The Office with another TV show, present or past, what would it be?

  89. I don’t think my last post worked, so I’ll try again.

    berry from Annapolis, MD

    In one word, how would you describe working on The Office. One word. Also, congrats on the beginning of a sure to be great season.

    (also congrats to you tanster :))

  90. Here’s a question:
    One day, the show will have to end but hopefully with a bang. How would you like the show to end? With a death of a character or maybe a terrorist attack from a certain rival branch?

  91. Emily from New York, NY

    At the beginning of the show’s life it wasn’t clear that it would become the long-running hit it is today. Did you have a timeline in mind for Jim and Pam when you first started the show and has that changed?

    (tanster: I’m sure you can phrase that more succinctly than I can)

  92. From Sara in Philadelphia:

    How did the creators of The Office pick Scranton as the setting?

  93. Wow. Congratulations that’s awesome!

    Sorry, I don’t have a question. I just thought I’d congratulate you.

  94. I know this is not the most popular idea with fans and it is understandable why because it would lose the essence of what the The Office is but…. will we ever see The Office without the documentary cameras being there filming? What is life at Dunder Mifflin like without any cameras there? There’s so many possibilities with that idea. So much liberty with the storylines.

  95. Amy in Houston, TX

    How far in advance do you plan out key plotlines? Do the writers have a set plan for Angela, Dwight and the whole Scranton branch or are you creating it as you go?

    Congrats Tanster! I am jealous!

  96. How are returning characters written in?
    For example, did the writers want to have Rashida Jones come back for another episode so they wrote her into Branch Wars or do you find out they are coming back and have to write them in the episode(s) to accomodate them?

    Congratulations Tanster, I’m so glad you’re the one asking questions rather than someone who isn’t a fan of the show.

    I also hope you are able to share with people who live on the other coast and cannot make it there!

  97. Amelia from Middlebury Vermont

    TV in general gets a lot of criticism for being a “mindless” activity. There are certainly some shows that fit this label, but what do you think makes The Office different, and what positive effects could a show like this have on its viewers?

    tanster- congratulations, you deserve it.

  98. Last year NBC asked for four hour longs upfront that had to be split in two. This year they’ve ordered a massive 28 episodes (!) I’m not complaining (especially after the truncated season four), but I am worried for your sanity. Do you find it difficult to reconcile your plans for the show with the demands of the network?

    Maria, Canberra, Australia.

    That’s probably way too long, I’m sure if you ask it you’ll find a better way :) And congrats, Tanster! Paley always sounds so amazing.

  99. from San Jose

    Has the success of the show affected you (the writers) psychologically? Do you feel more pressure to churn out good material and anxiety over whether viewers will like it?

  100. Two Middle School Teachers in Downtown LA:

    The Gas Station proposal for oddly perfect…What were some of the other Jim/Pam proposal scenarios you all came up with that didn’t make it?

  101. [What an honor to be able to even submit a question!]

    Lately, I’ve been rewatching season one and two (yes, I am very ancey inbetween Thursdays). For you, is there any old lines/talking heads that in light of who we’ve come to know the characters to be, doesn’t really seem to fit them?

    (You don’t have to read this part, but my example is from “The Fire” in Season 1 where Jim is instigating the game: “Who Would You Do?” It doesn’t seem as Jim-ish to me as his other game, “Desert Island.”)

  102. Will the characters on the Office ever actually watch their show? I’d think after four seasons they would’ve caught an episode or two!

  103. It would be awesome to have an episode called “Election Day” but I realize that it would be extremely difficult to do that in a timely manner. Which political candidate would each character support? Any Sarah Palin lovers?

    Thank you,

    Felice
    Williamsburg, VA

  104. Irene from Pittsburgh

    How did you guys feel about the series when you first started working on it? Did you ever think that it would be this big?

    Congrats, Tanster! Good luck at the panel!!

  105. Ted from Amherst, Massachusetts

    This question goes to anyone brave enough to answer. As writers of an episode, you must have a vision of the final product in terms of what you would like to see and what the feel of the episode should be. Do you ever feel disappointed by the decisions of directors or especially the editors to change your vision of an episode by cutting lines or scenes you thought were hilarious or important?

  106. JimPamFan in Virginia:

    I understand that you plan a few of the main plotlines in a story arc for each season, especially the Jim-Pam storyline. How did the writer’s strike and shortened/interrrupted season 4 differ from the original arc? Did you just compress it or did you have to leave part of it out? When did you decide what to do about that, before, during or after the strike?

    Also, will the written but unproduced Christmas script of last season ever be released for fans?

    Thanks tanster. Hopefully this will be released on this season’s DVD or be available someday. Maybe they can offer Office Tally exclusive clips!

  107. JoAnn from Alabama:

    It was a real treat to be able to read the script for “Dinner Party” that was included in the Season 4 DVD set. How much input do you have on what goes into the DVD packages? Any chance of seeing a table read? Please?

  108. This season started with a bang with the fantastic production design for the proposal, and it seems like you can now use more elaborate settings for episodes than just the office itself. The gym scene in Job Fair with lots of extras also comes to mind. Do you as writers feel free to put the characters in new and exciting locations now that the show is such a huge hit, or do you want to limit the characters’ adventures outside the walls of Dunder Mifflin Scranton?

    Marita from Norway

  109. (I already submitted one yesterday but I’m actually curious about this one)

    Nicole – Toronto

    Honesty is a fun and controversial game! Are there any episodes that you are not particularly proud of or are unsatisfied with?

    Congrats Tanster and good luck choosing! All these other questions are great.

  110. Will we see the effects of the Ryan re-hiring? No company in the world would possibly allow it.

  111. Sara from Portland, OR:

    Do you ever foresee the airing of The Office documentary as a plot point for the show?

  112. Tanster! That’s fabulous! I wish I could be there. I have no questions, but good luck. You’ll be wonderful.

  113. AnitaB,Chicago
    1. How do you strike the balance between creating authentic characters in realistic situations vs. marketable television? 2. How do you keep the series grounded in reality, despite being in the television industry?

  114. On the writers’ room: Are there episodes that are wholly written by one or two people, or do most episodes have a team-written component? What is the process of writing in such a large group? Is there anyone who specializes in writing for Michael or Phyllis or the Jim/Pam storyline? For those of you who’ve written for other shows, what is The Office writers’s room like as opposed to other rooms?

    On the documentary: Do you ever feel restricted by the documentary-style format? Will the documentary ever air?

    Emily from NJ

  115. Maybe Matty Mattster should attend with you for the behind the scenes stuff you won’t be able to get to…
    Just a thought!

  116. Megan in Canton, Ohio

    this is a question for Mindy…
    Who is a better kisser- B.J., Craig, or Rainn?

  117. I’m just happy you used my name in the example (even though it’s spelled different)

    Maybe you could ask them to use my name on the show? lol….

    Congrats on being the moderator…..that’s crazy awesome.

  118. My real name is Shannon and I’m from NYC.

    Everyone talks about how realistic the show is. As writers, do you ever feel restricted in not being able to go to the extremes with drama or over board-ness?

    Good Luck, Tanster! I can only imagine how excited you are!

  119. Diapers Schrute from Illinois-

    Do you base some of the characters off of real people (besides Jim Halpert)? Is there a real-life Mose Schrute?

  120. Amelia from Echo Park, Burbank

    We all know Pam is moving up in the world, but will we see her working in Scranton again?

  121. A lot of the plots are now based upon dating & romantic relationships within the office. Did your original vision for the show envision so many relationships, or did you intend to focus more on workplace and career issues, and the show just evolved differently than you expected?

    Ann
    Chicago, IL

  122. Jessica (Dublin, OH)

    What happened to Packer? Did he get Jan pregnant and high-tail it? Or did he tell one too many gay jokes and get put in the hospital? haha

    Tanster: I looked for a job at Paley…can you imagine working there!?!?!)

  123. Calais (pronounced Cal-lay) from Boston, MA

    Obviously you guys (writiers) have realized The Office will eventually end, have you guys given thought to where you all want the characters to end up and will they all still be working at Dunder Mifflin, Scranton? What about a movie???

  124. I’d really love to know what their original plan for season four was before the strike interrupted, and whether they’ll be coming back to any of those stories in season five.

  125. I love to see the side of Michael that is less cartoonish and more, um, wise. Especially those times between him and Jim as in Survivor Man where Jim learns from Michael. Are those planned to expand Michael into something deeper or are they off the cuff?

  126. Hi Tanster! I have a question about attending Paley. Will we be able to take photos and/or take video? I haven’t seen anything noted on the Paley web page. Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait! See you on the 14th.

  127. I’ll probably be at the discussion on Tuesday, but I could only get the closed caption viewing room tickets, so I won’t be able to take any shots of the discussion… hopefully someone will bring a camera and photo document something!

  128. Trisha from Arizona

    Will you include raw footage, unedited, of one table read through of an episode as well as hidden DVD easter eggs of fun stuff in the Season 5 DVD?

  129. Last season we saw the character of Ryan rise to a high position at Corporate and then, in the season finale, crash right back down due to his scandal. Now that Season 5 has started, we have seen that he has been hired back as a temp at the Scranton branch. My question is, will this crash back down to earth affect Ryan and the way he treats people at all? Will he still try to seem and act important (ex. trying to regain power), or will he start to appreciate the few remaining people who love him (Kelly and Michael) at the Scranton branch/lay low? Also, what ever happened to Ryan’s drug addiction that we saw hints of in “Night Out”? Will that issue ever be addressed again?

    Wow, sorry that was so long, but I had a lot I wanted to ask! This is an awesome opportunity, tanster! I’m so happy for you!

    — Melissa in Cedar Rapids, IA

  130. Wow look at all the PA peeps on OT!!

    Tanster – if you can handle all of us crazy Tallyheads, you’ll have no problem moderating the panel. Congrats!!

    My question from Abbey in York, PA is: have any of the celebrities mentioned in the show (such as Brad Pitt, Eva Longoria, or The Police) ever contacted any of the writers or maybe even cast members about being a reference on The Office? I’m particularly interested in whether any members of The Police know about Scrantonicity since they reunited right around the time that Scrantonicity played Phyllis’s wedding on the show. If so, what was their reaction?

    Also, to Felice #121, I think it would be cool to have Joe Biden on since he’s from Scranton. It’s great how much attention the town has gotten in the election, since Hillary Clinton lived there, etc.

  131. Two Middle School Teachers in Downtown LA:

    The Gas Station proposal for oddly perfect…What were some of the other Jim/Pam proposal scenarios you all came up with that didn’t make it?

    Tanster you have to ask that question!

  132. I would like to see the show go out on top, having the fans wanting more instead of indifference. Do you plan on writing the show until NBC chooses to end it or will you come to a point where you feel satisfied with the work, go against NBC’s wishes and end it?

    Chris
    Winnipeg, Manitoba

  133. Concerning Ryan’s return: I really like B.J. Novak, and I’ve enjoyed watching Ryan’s rise and fall over the years. However, I have a hard time believing that Michael would be allowed to re-hire him in any capacity after everything that’s happened. Even in the Dunder Mifflin universe, it just doesn’t seem realistic. Was there any discussion among the writers about how to handle Ryan’s character after his downfall? Is there anything you can say about Ryan’s future at the company (especially given his drug problem)?

    Mikey

  134. There is some discrepancy about who started working at Dunder Mifflin first, Jim or Pam. In “The Secret” Jim says that he had a crush when Pam first started working at the office. In “Launch Party,” however, it seems like Pam worked there first and introduced Jim to Dwight.
    My question for the writers is: who worked at Dunder Mifflin first, Jim or Pam?

  135. Gosh, so many great questions… you’re gonna have a tough time choosing the 10, Tanster!

    I won’t add to your troubles, just wanted to say that if you get the chance, please express to the writers the appreciation and admiration that so many international fans also have for their work. For us to follow the show so closely despite the fact it doesn’t air in our countries (or is waay behind), major time-zone differences, the interference of strikes and vice-presidential debates that don’t really concern us and being unable to view vids on nbc.com(grr)… well, that’s really saying something. Best TV show in the world.
    Mel from Mordor (New Zealand)

  136. I just want to say that I think Jessica’s (156) question is really good… I knew I wanted to ask the same thing, but completely forgot what I was going to ask, haha

  137. from berry in Annapolis, MD

    Jennifer and Mindy,

    What is it like being the only woman writers? Is it weird? Are there things the guys do where you both are like “how could they do that!” Or is it all pretty balanced in retrospect?

  138. Do you ever read “Office” related message boards after an episode to see how fans reacted to the show? If so, does fan reaction ever influence the direction of the show?

  139. I loved the inclusion of Kendall, the H.R. rep that David Wallace hates, in the latest episode. I hate him too! Is David Wallace a good boss surrounded by idiots, or a diabolical genius who hires people who are bad at their job to make him look better?

    -Angela from Tampa

  140. Stefanie from Illinois:

    It has been said that there is always extra footage left on the editing room floor that usually turns into deleted scenes on the season DVD or available online. Do you as writers enjoy the half-hour format, or would you rather be writing for a full hour of The Office?

  141. Will you please please pretty pretty please ask them if we’ll ever get to see another Dundies Award?
    /Anna, Sweden

  142. One more!

    Stefanie in Illinois:

    In a perfect world, The Office would never end and there would always be that same band of crazies in Scranton. Alas, someday (far from now, I hope!), this fantastic show will have to come to an end. Do you as writers know how the show will end (a ‘master plan story arch,’ if you will), and if so, is it difficult to pace the show to reach that end?

  143. Approximately how much time does it take to write an episode? Has this time line varied from season to season (recognizing that Season One was derived primarily from its British counterpart)? What is the most considerable constraint faced in terms of writing an average episode?

    Good luck with your preparation tomorrow Tanster. It cannot be easy to find new ground that hasn’t been covered in other panels or in the excellent episode Q&As with the writers that you provide.

  144. Did the timing of the writers strike change the direction of how you took the Jim/Pam story-line? In what way?
    -Phoebe from NYC

    GOOD LUCK TANSTER!

  145. This is for Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg:
    How did you get your career start (big break) as writers?

    From Carly in Jacksonville, FL.

  146. They may get this question often but I never feel like I’ve gotten a satisfying answer: is the idea of Stephen Colbert playing Gould still viable over there? Because I literally think that would be the best and funniest thing I have ever seen. They actually NEED to do that. Are they going to do it, or is it just an idea they play around with?

  147. By far, who was your favorite guest star or recurring minor character?
    Thanks!
    Emma from Long Island, NY

  148. Here’s a question for the writers that I’ve wondered about for a long time:

    Do you ever get tired of being asked: “How much of what we see on-air is just the actors improvising?” Is it a compliment, like the dialogue seems so natural, or an insult, like the implication is that if it’s funny, it must have been the actors idea?

    Rebecca from IL

  149. @ 156 Jessica and 159 Michelle

    Someone asked Greg that question at the Writers Block panel at The Convention. He acknowledged the confusion, but says he thinks Pam started first based on Jim’s talking head in The Client’s deleted scenes.

    You can watch him say that at around 6:27 here: Link

    Have fun at Paley, Tanster!!

  150. Sorry, one more question, from Washington, DC:

    For those writers who keep blogs or MySpaces, especially Mindy, will you be updating those soon because us fans would really like that?

    Thanks!

  151. Hey Office writers! Hey Tanster!!

    Just one question that’s been on my mind for awhile (and this is for any of the writers, in a perfect world I’d like to know each of their responses):

    Can you possibly sum up this experience? What has it meant for you as a creative person to be a part of something so iconic to the American people?

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