The Office: Inside The Writers Room, Paley Center

This post contains photos and details of The Office: Inside The Writers Room discussion panel held on October 14, 2008, at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. I was honored to moderate the event!

Q and A | Photos | Jennie’s notes

Paley Center listing | Screenshot | Available on DVD

The Office

Credit: Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media

Group shot in the Green Room before the event. Jen Celotta and Aaron Shure hadn’t arrived at this point yet. I’m holding my 18-page script!

Back row:
Lester Lewis, Charlie Grandy, Paul Lieberstein, Mindy Kaling, Greg Daniels, me, Michael Schur

Front row:
Ryan Koh, Justin Spitzer, Anthony Farrell, Lee Eisenberg


  1. LA? Wrong Paley Center! Any chance you writers want to come to the one in NYC, too? Please?

  2. Aw, I’ll be out of the country. Hows about like late October or November, eh, eh??

  3. Aw, I wish I could go! It’s right around my birthday! But I’m sure someone will share their experience. :)

  4. I’m going out on a limb here & guessing you will be moderating…congrats!! What an awesome honor!

    [from tanster: yes, that is the current plan. :) thank you, i’m really excited!]

  5. Rainn moderated at Comic-Con, do you know who’s moderating at this one? I hope it’s someone I like. Someone cool and awesome and fun. I bet I won’t be let down if that information is made public very, very, very soon.

    [from tanster: i have no idea what you’re talking about. get a hold of yourself!]

  6. Thanks for the info, Tanster. Do you have any idea how much the individual tickets will be? I’m guessing it would be best to become a “member” to ensure even getting a ticket. I’m curious how much additional money would need to be spent so that I can determine if it’s even reasonable to consider.

    [from tanster: no, i looked on the paley site and didn’t see prices either! i hope they’re posted soon.]

  7. I’m there! I just finished the first step and became a member. Now just waiting for the 4th.

  8. Okay, that’s it – I’m moving to L.A. Nothing fun ever happens here in Kentucky!

    But seriously – congratulations, Jennie! You must feel so honored! :) I know you’ll do a great job and give us all the details afterward!

    [from tanster: thanks kenna! “honored” is one word that comes to mind. “terrified” is another. ;) ]

  9. Wow, I really want to go to this! Luckilly, I live in Riverside, which is only a little over an hour outside of Los Angeles. Can’t wait to find out the rest of the info!

  10. First of all, congrats Tanster! This is amazing.

    My question for the panel is: What plans do you have for Ryan once Pam returns from New York?

  11. Congrats Tanster! I’m so jealous! I’m new to officetally (I know… clamp my face in a George Forman grill.) I heard them talk about it on a DVD commentary. But I’ve always been a huge fan of The Office so now I have something to spiral the addiction further! My question is:
    “Is it more diffucult to come up with story lines now being in the 5th season or are there still lots of ideas on the board?” Thanks!

  12. Good luck, tanster! We are all there with you–if not in the flesh, then definitely in spirit! You will be a-MAZING! Can’t wait to hear about it.

  13. Hi Tanster!
    I’m in Chicago right now, but I will be cheering you on! I know you are going to do an awesome job!

  14. All right, all you lucky Tallyheads who will be there – I hope you’ve honed your note-taking skills in preparation for tonight! Those less fortunate will want the entire scoop!

    Good luck, tanster! I don’t think you’ll need it, though. ;) Have fun!

  15. That’s so exciting for everyone that’s going. Have fun!

    BTW- Does anyone else think the little OT symbol in the address bar looks different? It looks more fancy to me.

  16. Good luck, Tanster! Wish I was there, but New York is my home. (Hey- you might end up in the season five DVD!) Knock ’em dead.

  17. Hope you have a great time Tanster.
    l will cheer for you from my distant country.
    The Office Fandom is with you.

  18. Gooooo Tanster! I’m sure you will be totally awesome:) And afterwards, don’t forget to write it ALL down, you know like, everything you said and everything they did… ;)

  19. That’s so cool Leonora, take copious notes and don’t forget to give us the scoop!

    P.S. I so lol’d at your ‘tiny green laptop with ears’ :) Have a great time!

  20. I’m here! If any tallyheads are here I’m at the Starbucks across the street. Can’t miss me, I’m typing away on a tiny green laptop with ears. It is 3:16pm right now. I’ll be here until a line starts to form.

  21. BTW I didn’t let a couple of wildfires and hours of delays get in the way. I’ll worry about getting home later. For those of you affected by the fires my thoughts are with you.

  22. So I’m in line now. I’m 5th in a line of about 10. I’m going to power down now so I can take notes during the panel. See you inside Jennie.

  23. Ugh I forgot to buy tickets. So I am about 2 miles away wishing I was there–tell us EVERYTHING!

  24. Hey Jennie,
    It was great to meet you tonight and thanks for the gift bag of goodies (I answered the Justin as a Doctor question).

    I’ll email pics from the event tomorrow and I’ll do a little report of what i remember.

  25. hey jennie!

    nice meeting you tonight.. you did a fabulous job!

    [from tanster: it was awesome meeting you, too, liezl! :) ]

  26. Tanster you did an awesome job. The writers were so easy going and accessible. I was able to get most of the writers to sign my “Dinner Party” script. I was able to talk to Jen Celotta about the weight loss episode, and to Lester Lewis about Strike TV. I didn’t get to tell the writers how much I appreciate seeing the diversity in both the cast and writers. I’m not just talking about ethnicity/culture, but also the range of experience each writer brings to the show. BTW I just looked through the goody bag and I won’t be needing the dvd. It’s actually the second time I won the season 4 dvd from NBC. So I’ll be giving this away too. I’ll have more details on my blog later in the morning I have to go to bed now.

  27. Nothing real to add ‘cept that Charlie Grandy looks like Stephen Merchant’s brother.

  28. Cool! You look great, Tanster! Thank you for posting the picture! Mindy Kaling is one of the most awesome ladies in TV!

  29. I heard that the writers said that Mindy is also the actor that breaks the most. She is always cracking up take after take. Even in the upcoming webisodes (which I also hear are fantastic!) she would laugh and laugh in almost every take. Is this true?

    [from tanster: yes that is true! there was quite a bit of discussion on that. i think at some point mike schur did impressions of mindy trying not to break. :) ]

  30. I’m so glad you got that shot. That was so funny. So does anyone have the photo of Paul “flipping off” the audience?

    [from tanster: haven’t seen that one yet. still waiting for tallyhead reports and photos! hint, hint ;) ]

  31. I forgot to also mention the Paley staff were awesome too. I forgot my purse in the theater, and I didn’t realize it until about 30 minutes after the panel had ended. I made a mad dash back to the theater from Starbucks. My purse had been turned in by the security. Not only did I get my purse back, some of the writers were still in the lobby talking with fans, so I was able to get more autographs on my Dinner Party script and get the scoop about the page from Lester Lewis. This was so awesome I definitely will be back to Paley for other panels especially for The Office. It felt like I was hanging out with a bunch of friends. It had that “Womens Appreciation Day”/”Boys and Girls” feel to it. Let’s do it again. Soon.

  32. Where was BJ? I didn’t think he was going to be there, then he was listed as a guest and then he wound up not being there after all.

  33. Is Charlie Grandy the son of Fred Grandy from The Love Boat, by any chance? They look kind of alike.

  34. Hey Tanster. I was in the audience last night (I confessed to stealing my company’s time by reading this site). Just wanted to let you know that you did a fabulous job. The panel’s adoration and appreciation for you and OfficeTally was evident. They seemed quite at ease and it made for a fun night. Thanks.

  35. Haha, that picture’s great. Tanster, are you going to tell us which of our questions you asked? Just wondering…

  36. That photo is cute. I’m anxious to here about the Q&A! Hope you had a great time tanster.

  37. hahahahhahahah!! awesome photo of everyone pointing to mindy.

    hope you had a good time tanster!!

  38. Hope you had an awesome time last night! The pics sure look like you did.:) Thank you for this site!

  39. Dang Tanster! Hanging with the head honchos now! That is so cool. “Don’t forget about us when you become famous.” BTW what questions did you end up asking?

  40. Great picture, Tanster! I am so jealous because you got to stand next to and hang out with Mindy Kaling! That’s awesome!

  41. Great pictures! You all look like you coordinated outfits with the blues, grays, and blacks.

    Can’t wait to read your report!

  42. I won one of the trivia questions! It was weird to have the answer be a person who was sitting 10 feet away! But I loved meeting Jen Celotta, she’s probably my favorite writer.

  43. #49 FeliceG- Charlie is Gopher’s son. I googled him. I used to have a crush on his dad when I was a kid. I must’ve flashed back to my 7 year old self, because I totally fell for him and had a sudden craving for “pop rocks” and coke.

  44. Great pics! I’m dying to hear the report!

    Side note: I agree with phyllis*farm and leonora. Charlie Grandy looks like he could be Stephen Merchant’s brother, and he’s hot. That is all.

  45. Hey Nick, fellow prize winner, wasn’t that amazing? Talking to Jen Celotta was the coolest. I gotta’ tell you it seems to be only amazing to us in The Office geekdom. Writers get no respect. Everyone I was talking to the next day was like, “No Steve Carell. No Dwight. No couple…maybe you shouldn’t be telling people you drove through the wildfires to get there. You might look like a geek.”

  46. Aww, thanks for the shout-out, tanster! I’m so glad you all had fun! Too bad work got in the way of me going. Oh well, I’m glad you and Tori were able to use the tickets.

    Question: Where was Gene? Wasn’t he supposed to be at the panel?

    [from tanster: yes, Gene was scheduled to attend, but was called away at the last minute. :( ]

  47. Wow, what a great recap! And thanks for those links to other sites, too! Fancy New Whatever looks pretty great, I’ll have to start checking that out too!

  48. “she can do it even if she’s on the phone doing something else.”

    that’s what she said

  49. Oh wow, that Fancy New Whatever site is really cool. Thanks for the link! I’ll have to check out their recap for sure.

  50. Wasn’t there another opening fan question? From the girl who talked about Fancy New Whatever (thanks for the link by the way, I love that site!)? I could have sworn I read in the FNW post that she asked about who wrote Kelly’s line? Am I missing something?

  51. I’m surprised the Paley Center didn’t cave in with all of that creativity energy flowing everywhere! Thanks, Tanster… For being our eyes, ears, and lips!

  52. Hey, I actually really like the idea of the rain interfering with the mics during the proposal scene. That would be pretty cool. It’s so creative. Sometimes, a scene can be more powerful with no words being spoken.

  53. I’m so glad and other fans took notes. I tend to just take it all in (TWSS) and enjoy it in the moment. I’m a horrible multi-tasker. I read each re-cap and laugh, “Oh yeah I remember that”. Tanster thanks for linking to my photos.

  54. TV writers crack me up and The Office writers are no exception. Always wanting to have their cake and eat it too. They complain about the fan focus being too much on Jim & Pam but one of the writing mainstays of this show has been their storyline. I certainly don’t watch just for Pam & Jim or just for star of the show, Steve Carell. This is an ensemble show and like that over everything else.

    Instead of being irritated and complaining that fans focus too much on the Jim & Pam storyline and not on Steve Carell being the star of the show and ha-ha, aren’t Dwight and Michael hilarious, they should be darn grateful that this show has such a loyal audience. That’s hard to come by these days with cable and satellite dishes having 300+ channels. There are plenty of other shows to watch on Thursday nights.

  55. hey there, found your site through this looks great; this picture is awesome.

  56. Thanks so much for the link!! Seriously, all those pictures broke my brain. That’ll be the closest I’ll ever get to anyone from the show…

  57. awesome recap…
    oh tanster, you labeled Anthony Farrell’s pic as Lester Lewis on page 8 :)

    [from tanster: thanks, meg, fixed!]

  58. Tanster, thank you so much for picking my question! More importantly though, thank you so much for posting this stuff for us…and for the fantabulous website, OfficeTally!!

  59. I cannot thank you enough for asking my question–that was the best news I’ve gotten in a while! Thanks Tanster. (Stephanie in ATL)

  60. Thanks for asking about David Koechner. I really hope Packman is able to make an appearance at some point this season.

  61. @ 76 | Gwendolyn

    would you rather that they responded to every question with: “We’re just so grateful to be on the air.” ?

    [from tanster: i found the moment to be really interesting. i appreciated the writers’ honesty.]

  62. Fascinating read! Thank you for the great recap, tanster, and thanks for asking my question!! That just made my day, my week, and possibly my month. I only wish I could’ve been there! Sounds like you did us proud, as usual. Those wise writers knew what they were doing when they requested you as moderator! ;)

    [from tanster: thanks kenna! i got feedback afterwards that the questions were especially good. couldn’t have done it without you. :) ]

  63. Thanks for the links Tanster! They’re all really great. I’ve never been to the fancy new whatever site, and it’s really cool! :)

  64. Fantastic job Tanster! I bet that was a real dream come true. Excellent Q&A and pics.

    That first picture, it looks like Paul is touching Mindy in a weird way. :)

  65. I just finished reading the whole recap. It was so great, thank you so much Tanster! It must have been an amazing (and well deserved) experience for you.
    Charlie is a very good looking man…
    The top you were wearing was so cute, I want one!

    [from tanster: thanks! i love that top, too, and was bummed i had to throw a sweater over it at the last minute, but i was afraid i’d be too cold otherwise …]

  66. While I enjoy disliking Michael aka Steve Carell. I had gone with that it was a full cast effort. I don’t see Steve as “the star”.

  67. Thanks so much for this awesome entry!
    Sounds like it was an amazing evening with some amazing people:)

  68. I personally don’t think that any one character “is the show”. Every single character brings something special and unique :)

  69. Great Recap! And thanks for the Fancy New Whatever link! It’s got some great information about Paley and the mods. are super cute (:

  70. So glad the writers get frustrated that fans care more about the JAM plotline than Michael’s. Michael and the comedy aspect have always appealed more to me than the JAM drama and I don’t like how episodes are deemed “bad” by fans because it doesn’t have JAM moments.

  71. OHH SOO awesome!

    the gals over at fnw did a SUPER detailed recap of the event as well, from the audience perspective.

    thanks for linking up to them Tanster!

  72. Thanks so much for the recap, Tanster! It was great to read answers to such interesting questions and not have to hear the usual (Yes, the actors improv some. Yes, some of us worked in an office. Gah!)

    I was a little concerned, however, at the Jim/Pam backlash I sensed. I would argue that the writers would best take the focus off Jim/Pam by just letting them be together and NOT drawing things out like they are now.

  73. Thank you, Tanster! Your expression in the pic is priceless! Elation and nervousness all rolled into one.;) Good for you!

    (Also, I love JAM together, but I agree that they can be together without being the main focus of the show. My favorite moments are always the interaction between groups: Jim and Pam pulling a prank on Dwight and Michael or Michael annoying everyone and Phyllis snapping back, etc. )

  74. Jennie ~ thanks for the fabulous coverage! I wish I could’ve been there to cheer you on, but I’m so glad the evening went well. I’m sure you will always remember this experience. :) We’re so proud of you!

    [from tanster: thank you, laura! it was awesome. and it was nice looking down on my script every once in awhile and seeing the names of everyone who submitted questions. it was comforting. ;) ]

  75. Hey tanster,
    thanks so much! you were so great! and looked great too!
    i know bj was filming… but where was lee’s other half, gene?


    [from tanster: awww, thank you so much kaylie! gene got called away at the last minute. :( ]

  76. Sounds like paley was amazing! and thanks for the fancynewwhatever link! i read their recap and i felt like i was really there!

  77. Thanks for the report tanster! What a great experience that must have been for you (:
    On another note, I saw the link to the movie BJ will be in…it’s so intense, how did Mr.Comedy-Writer/Fire Guy get cast in that one?

  78. Third question down response:

    « There was a callback later in the evening that we would know the writers had nothing left if we ever saw these episode titles — “Blood Drive” and “Earth Day.” »

    I feel like I might be missing a joke here. But maybe not. They said that they would have run out of ideas if they ever have an episode called “Blood Drive.” Later that season, there was an episode called “Blood Drive.”

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