My letter to Jeff Zucker

[This letter was mailed on November 30]

Dear Mr. Zucker,

I have five words for you: “Image is everything. Andre Agassi.”

It was those five words, spoken by Michael Scott in The Office’s Season 2 episode, “The Fire,” which motivated me to write its author, B.J. Novak, back in late 2005.

To my surprise, B.J. wrote me back: “You are the first to quote the Andre Agassi line! I came up with it on the spot and told it to Steve and was SO proud of it. I thought no one noticed, or remembered the Canon ads. Glad you did!”

Shortly thereafter, I decided to create a fansite for the show. In February 2006, was born. It’s been an amazing adventure ever since.

Now running a fansite isn’t always fun. Especially on Thursday nights, when I laboriously transcribe my favorite quotes from that evening’s episode. But even after nearly two years of running OfficeTally, I still react with childlike glee when I load up the quote randomizer with my favorite gems at the end of the evening.

You see, great writing is joyous. Great writing inspires people to create fansites. And great writing deserves fair pay.

Until the contract negotiation is resolved, I will not watch any replacement programming you put in The Office’s place. I will not view or download online episodes.

And OfficeTally’s quote randomizer will go dark.

Because without fair pay, there are no words.


Jennie Tan

Okay Tallyheads, go write your own letter.


  1. Amen, Tanster. I hope Zucker takes your words to heart, because there are lots and lots more fans who feel exactly the same. Thanks for putting our thoughts into words.

  2. Tanster…this is why I love you. Everything you do is with such class. You always know the perfect things to say…..

  3. Written very eloquently. Hopefully more letters/emails like yours are being sent and taken into consideration! Warmest aloha, Katie

  4. so well said, jennie. really well said.

    for me, this strike is all about exploitation – which isn’t always a bad thing. the exploitation of new media outlets is creative, great for providing viewers with options, and fun. but the exploitation of these writers is wrong.

  5. Jennie! Wonderful letter! I loved your reference to BJ’s quote. It is a great connecting force to your words and really glues the message together!

    Be sure to let us Tallyheads know if he replies!

  6. I am not watching any replacement programming, and I will let Jeff Zucker know that. Jennie, your letter is very eloquent.

  7. What a great letter. It was concise and short. Yet it makes a huge impact. I hope he personally reads the letter and thinks twice about what is going on. I agree 100% and until the strike I had no idea the writers were not receiving their fair compensation. Though, I miss the show, I haven’t watched online episodes and will refuse to watch replacement programming… and not just because of what it is (yuck).

  8. Jennie – Such a fabulous letter! Thank you for sharing it with us – let’s hope NBC pays attention.

  9. You’re a class act Jennie. Thanks for posting an example that we all can vainly try to aspire to ourselves.

  10. Amazing job, Jennie. Everyone has a fair say, but I think in many instances, you have a more powerful one than we do. I hope he reads your letter and realizes how he’s hurting not only the studios and the writers and actors etc. etc. but the fans as well.

  11. Tanster, I love OfficeTally, but I don’t understand one thing: if you support the writers, why are you encouraging participation in at this time? Could you explain? As you well know, new media revenue is the main point in contention in this “war,” and what is DMI if not completely new media revenue?

    [from tanster: read this]

  12. Love the letter. I’ve noticed for the past week or so the quote randomizer is just “There are no words”, and every time I reloaded the page I thought something was wrong with my computer, but then I realized it was because of the strike. Good thinking!

  13. Amazing letter Jennie!

    Hopefully your position as queen of the Office Cyber-Universe will make Mr. Zucker think about what he’s doing to the people who pay his grossly inflated salary!

  14. I understand your desire and influence behind writing this letter, and I commend you for your strong hold stance as stated “will not watch any replacement programming” or “will not view or download online episodes”., however your website is very much to the contrary as it is filled with links that range in viewing/supporting those very episodes on the NBC homepage you are boycotting.

  15. Tanster… that was AMAZING! You’ll show him whos boss for all of us! But we should still send our letters.

  16. So, uh, Tanster, you are possibly the coolest person alive. What a way with words! My letter was quite lame compared to that masterpiece.

    Anyway, if that can’t win over NBC, nothing can.

  17. Dawesome! I’m clapping, and when I’m done applauding your wonderfulness, I will start on my letter. :)

  18. wow. to quote Roy from season 3, the “Branch Closing” episode: That pretty much says it better than how I know how to say it… in words.

  19. Dear Mr. Zucker:
    I am a television watcher. I am a consumer. I buy from your sponsors.

    I buy DVDs of your shows. I watch television content online. I click through on your online advertising. Last season I paid to download your shows on iTunes.

    I support the WGA writers in their efforts to re-negotiate their contract to include payment for DVD sales and new media content.

    In support of the WGA, I will not be watching NBC’s alternative programming during the strike, nor will I buy or download any NBC content during this time. The eyes of this consumer will be closed to your advertisers and sponsors.


  20. Your point is well-made, but for a website that prides itself on bringing every piece of Office-related information to the forefront, you’ve certainly portrayed this story in a decidedly one-sided manner. Much as we need the writers, we also need the producers and studios. I wish OfficeTally–and everyone–would support a quick resolution that’s fair and reasonable for *both* sides.

  21. Great letter tanster! Hopefully the fan letters will help with the ending of the strike.

  22. Fire up your Netflix queue and set your Tivos for PBS! Better yet, renew your library card and read a book! Refuse to watch the reality drivel being thrown at us! No Donald Trump EVER! REVOLUTION! ATTICA! ATTICA!!

    I find your letter to be very inspirational.

  23. Great letter. I too will not watch NBC during that timeslot. Is there such thing as an online petition? Or maybe you could write another similar letter but have Tallyheads sign/type their name at the bottom. Power in numbers! Most of us want the show back but don’t have time to write a letter. Even though we all know “…real business is done on paper.”

  24. Wow, Tanster, well said! You are an awesome leader for this little rebellion force. In fact, I coudn’t help but think of a very embarrassing metaphor for this situation:

    It’s like we’re Dumbledore’s Army,
    and you’re Harry Potter.

  25. I love the “No Words” on the quote randomizer. Great letter! I sent mine about a week ago…

  26. I sent mine to Jeff/NBC November 12th. Maybe it’s time to start sending another batch out?

  27. -applauds- Short, sweet, and cuts to the chase. This letter is the epitome of all that is awesome. Great job, Jennie. It is gigantically very likely that this will be read by Mr. Zucker.

  28. I love The Office….love the actors, writers, producers, etc.

    However, I have only disgust in my heart for what the writers are doing. Their selfishness has not only denied the fans new episodes, more importantly it has denied non WGA members their jobs. The crew is not on strike, they don’t have a stake in this fight, they will not benefit whatever the outcome, yet they are suffering more than anyone

    Think of your job, and your co-workers. If you went on strike and it cost them their jobs….is that someone you could face.

  29. Not watching the shows they put up instead of The Office won’t bring back The Office any sooner.

  30. You are amazing. I absolutely love people who LOVE The Office as much as I do. I need my Thursday nights back…

  31. all i want for Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Festivus is new office!! please oh please. i’m an ever so good consumerist of all your media merchandise.
    *bats eyelashes

    also i want to have a robot’s body but my head’s the same except my mouth breathes out fire!
    thanks Mr. Zucker!

  32. honestly people what can we do to speed this up? Who are the people the WGA negotiating with? Is it NBC or is it Universal? Or both?

  33. I’ve been a looooong time reader/lurker of your site — but your letter sums up my thoughts precisely. Job well done. Thank you!

  34. I agree with #56.

    So far I have not seen one statement from the producers giving their version of the strike. My guess is it is because they haven’t made such a statement. I’m not saying I think the writers are wrong, in fact I admire their willingness to take a stand on a matter that is important to them. I’m just saying we’re getting but one side of the story, and when that side uses words like “moguls” or “greedy” or “fatcats”, or “rollbacks” to describe a pay proposal for something they were not getting paid for before, my eyes start rolling.

    The bottom line for me is that this is an employment dispute. The WGA would not get involved in my employment negotiations (nor would such involvement be requested or welcome) and I’m not taking sides in this one, either.

  35. Very well said, Jennie. Short, simple, and poignant.

    (And BJ Novak rules. He wrote me back, too).

  36. #62-

    I like your point. I have not read much about the Producers side of it, other than what the writers have relayed to us. There are always two sides to a conflict, and I feel like the producers have been conveyed in an unfair manner. I’m not saying I support or oppose one side over the other. I just think it’s important for us viewers to know the whole story before we “choose a side.”

    Also, there was a comment earlier that I really agreed with (I’m not sure who said it). Something about if a baker makes some bread and sells it, he doesn’t expect to be paid for every sandwich that’s made with that bread. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.

  37. Sorry if it’s already been said, but I was just thinking how useful it is to NOT watch/download any of the online stuff? Isn’t the whole crux of this strike to do with how the writers think they should be paid for this online content but the networks are still ‘unsure’ as to how financially viable web stuff is for them? Refusing to watch any web content would just reinforce the networks’ point of view, no? It just seems to me that refusing to watch TV but increasing the viewership of the online content would do more for the writers’ cause than ignoring it.

    It’s all a moot point for me anyway — being Canadian I miss out on the online stuff AND have to suffer through the drought of new eps. *sigh*

  38. I loved your letter, Jennie. Whatever anyone’s political stance on the strike, I think our Office writers are wonderful – talented and irreplaceable. I also think they have been very supportive of us as fans – visiting the OTCR, coming en masse to the convention, actually reading our comments on this blog. Maybe those people who don’t support the strike in general could consider just supporting our Office writers specifically in their fight to get paid for the webisodes, downloads and more which we enjoy as fans.

  39. I’m in the minority, also. Who are we to decide what is ‘fair pay’? If I’m a writer, ‘fair’ is one dollar figure. If I’m a stockholder and it’s MY money being paid out, ‘fair’ is a different number.

    It is my understanding that the issue is not ‘if’ the writers deserve a cut, but ‘how much’ of a cut.

    Fact: I want my Office back, too. Let’s hope they keep negotiating.

  40. Tanster: thanks for answering my question and clarifying the situation. Again, this is why I love OfficeTally. Thanks! (Now I can go back to participating in DMI…)

  41. I’m a stockholder. I own a few shares of GE, NBC/Universals parent. I’m in favor of fair pay for all of GE’s employees. NBC had a successful product in The Office. Now they have alienated their customers, that would be us. That’s not good business. If I were to sell my shares, someone else would buy them, so I will hold on to them and continue to do what I can to persuade NBC to take a leadership role in settling the strike. GE is a very diversified corporation, so the financial impact on it would be considerably less than on some of the other companies. If you would like to send comments to GE use this:


    “NBC is dead to me.”

  42. Great letter! It’s all so true. Also love the quote and it’s so cool that BJ wrote you back!

  43. This is an amazing letter. I could have never done something like it myself.
    Kudos to you, tanster.

  44. #70: They’ve not alienated me! I have little doubt that as soon as our favorite show is back on, audiences will return. (And not just because we’ve been settling for Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann.) The goal (for both sides) should be to get quality programming back on the air and to get the entire crew back to work as soon as possible.

  45. #54, you gotta be kidding me. So, you think it’s okay for the networks to take the writers’ work (many who also star in the show, btw)and replay it on the internet, and sell it as a DVD–without paying them? How would you like it if someone took something you made, sold it, and didn’t pay you for it?

    You wouldn’t, believe me.

    We are all on this site because we love their humor. Now, let’s hope they get paid fairly. Otherwise, they won’t be writing for us. Write NBC and tell them why you’ve quit watching.

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