'Office' boss worried about getting Jim and Pam just right

Shop Talk with Showrunners
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse | Tina Fey and Robert Carlock | Brad Falchuk | Jeff Schaffer | Alan Ball | Vince Gilligan | Steven Levitan | Greg Daniels | Robert King | Clyde Phillips

Your favorite moment as a showrunner?
There are a lot of favorite moments, but one has to be about three years into a successful show when the writers and actors start buying their first homes and deciding that they have enough stability to get married. Another was walking with the cast onto the stage of the U. of Scranton gym in front of thousands of screaming fans at the “Office” Convention.

Your hardest decision?
All the Pam and Jim moments. Deciding when and how they should get together, whether the proposal would have sound or be silent, how to get the tone right.

Your biggest fight with the network?
I only remember the ones I lose, and the biggest fights I lose are always with the broadcast standards guys, who became inflexible after the famous Super Bowl nipple slip and FCC aftermath.

Your best collaborative moment on the set or with a network?
On the set, there are many, because our show is very collaborative, but the best was probably Steve Carell’s kissing of Oscar Nunez in “Gay Witch Hunt,” which pushed the comedy wonderfully past the “embraces” I had written in the script. With the network, we have gotten a lot of smart notes, but my favorite collaboration was with the promo department finding ways to preserve the surprises of our big story moves in the first few years.

Your favorite “happy accident” in writing or producing the show?
Usually what I perceive as “happy accidents” are actually the creative work or good ideas of other members of the crew. For example, the casting of Phyllis Smith, who was our casting director Allison Jones’ assistant, or of Creed Bratton, who was originally in background, feel like extraordinarily happy accidents, but both were suggestions of our pilot director, Ken Kwapis.

“I wanted to give up when …”
At the beginning of the season last year, I realized that, between “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” I would have to supervise 50 episodes in 10 months.

Which shows have influenced your show?
Mostly “The Office” from the BBC, of course. Also, “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Friends.”

What would you want to say in an Emmy acceptance speech, but won’t?
After praising the fabulous cast and producers and crew, I would thank my wife, Susanne, who is my inspiration for the romantic moments between Jim and Pam, and my dad, who constantly sends me good ideas for the show and would love to be mentioned, and then at the end I would reveal my recently invented formula for renewable fuel made from kudzu. But you only get that if the show wins.

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