NBC sponsored a conference call today with Amy Ryan (The Wire), who was added to The Office at the end of last season, and Paul Lieberstein, who plays Toby but mainly is a writer-producer and sometimes director on the show. They ran out of time before I could get to ask a question, which of course would have been the most probing question in the history of journalism.
I haven’t been on a whole lot of conference calls, and one thing that always surprises me is how many of the questions are essentially ‘shipper questions — who’s going to get together with who, does X have a chance with Y, etc. In this case, everybody seemed to want to know if Amy Ryan’s character is going to get together with Michael. Which I suppose provides a change of pace from the usual Jim/Pam questions.
The three most interesting comments, by Lieberstein, were:
1) The story of Toby at the end of last season is based on a colleague who decided to get away from the rat race and go “live poor in Hawaii.” Two weeks later, he was back, out of money and having had a miserable time in Hawaii. As the Televisionary says, this seemed like a clear enough hint about what’s going to happen to Toby’s dream of getting away from it all in Costa Rica.
2) Asked how they keep the show from getting too soapy, he said that they try never to make an episode about the ongoing relationships; there’s always a self-contained “A” story, and “the relationship is the ‘B’ story.”
3) He said that creatively, the writers’ strike actually had a very positive effect on the last season, because the break gave them a chance to step back and look at what they’d done in the first part of the season, and make adjustments.