×

Inside the Collector’s Paradise of David Mandel’s ‘Veep’ Office

Walking into David Mandel’s second-floor office on the Paramount lot, where he writes HBO’s political comedy “Veep,” is like stepping into a museum of pop culture memorabilia. From posters and original prop portraits from his show on the walls to shelves of action figures, toy cars, and DVDs, Mandel lets his collector’s flag fly. “Among the things I collect are TV and movie props. I have a LOT of stuff,” he laughs. “So to actually have stuff from the things that I’ve worked on is extra enjoyable. It has a double meaning.”

Judgmental Eyes are Watching You
Hanging over the couch perpendicular to Mandel’s desk is the portrait of Mee-Maw, the imposing matriarch of Selina Meyer’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) “Veep” family who famously passed away in the fourth episode of the fifth season — Mandel’s first season. “Selina, who is not particularly good with her emotions, needs to deal with that as she’s dealing with the Nevada recount,” Mandel recalls. “I think for us and also for the audience, it was a different flavor in the ‘Veep’ world. In some ways it let people know that the show under my group of people was going to be a little different. We were trying to do things that interest me, and one of the things that definitely interests me is digging a little deeper into these characters.”

Bizarro Dave
Straight across from Mandel’s desk is a bookcase full of merchandise of Bizarro, the “mirror image” of Superman from DC Comics that partially inspired the “The Bizarro Jerry” episode of “Seinfeld” Mandel wrote during his tenure on that show. Though it wasn’t the first episode he ever wrote, it was the one he says he is most proud of. “Not only does it incorporate the Superman concept, but also ‘man hands’ in there is sort of about my wife,” Mandel laughs. “She has farm hands because she grew up on a farm, whereas I have baby-like hands and have never worked a hard day in my life. We exaggerated it for the show, and the joke became this woman with giant hands. Obviously everything I write is me, but this is the one that felt the most me.”

Art and Politics
Mandel keeps a bulletin board adorned with a drawing his son did of “Ghostbusters,” the first big comedy film that he saw and loved. He expects to hang something from his daughter soon, but for now the “Ghostbusters” art is joined by a bumper sticker from Al Franken’s senate campaign. Franken worked with Mandel on his first professional job (“MTV Give Me My Life Back” for Comedy Central that Mandel wrote when he was still in school) and quickly became his mentor. “He hired me when he was doing coverage of the Democratic and the Republican conventions. That would have been the summer of the Bill Clinton/Al Gore campaign. And then he brought me over to ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and we wrote together for many, many years,” Mandel says.

Model President
Mandel, who was a government major in college, still loves to read historical nonfiction — specifically books about presidents. One of his favorites is John F. Kennedy, so when he came across a unique toy car version of the presidential limo just moments before Kennedy was assassinated, he just had to have it. “It just spoke to me both in its incredible accuracy of the moment and dare I say, there was something very darkly funny about it. It makes me laugh in a very tasteless way,” Mandel says.

Surely He Jests
One of the few pieces of non-show specific art in Mandel’s office is a framed print of a jester that he purchased in Prague when he was there to film “Eurotrip” more than a decade ago. “This piece reminds me of that time, and oddly enough, the symbol of the jester — the only person who can tell the king the truth, but still acts as comic relief — definitely connects to comedy writing,” Mandel says. “Also, I got interested in comedy writing back in college with the Harvard Lampoon, and the jester is a symbol at the Lampoon. So it’s all of that in one piece; it’s full circle in a way.”

More TV

  • Composite Mieli/Davey

    Sky Studios Forges Production Pact With Fremantle's The Apartment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sky Studios and Italy’s The Apartment, the Fremantle-owned production company headed by Lorenzo Mieli, have forged a multi-year development and production partnership that marks Sky’s first agreement of this type outside the U.K. Under the deal, Sky Studios, which is the Comcast-owned pay-TV broadcaster dedicated production arm, will provide The Apartment development funding for a [...]

  • The Mess You Leave Behind’

    Carlos Montero on New Netflix Original ‘The Mess You Leave Behind’

    Netflix’s announcement of new Spanish series late last month underscored the platform’s intent to diversify its palette in the country while betting once again on one of their own, Carlos Montero. After co-writing “Elite” Season 2, and with a third set soon to bow, Montero has made the jump to the director’s chair for the [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Viola Davis, Holly Robinson Peete Pay Tribute to 'Good Times' Actress Ja'Net DuBois

    Actress Ja’Net DuBois died on Tuesday at her home in Glendale, Calif. at the age of 74. The actress, known for her role in the 70s sitcom “Good Times” as Wilona, the Evans family neighbor, died unexpectedly in her sleep. She appeared in several other films and shows throughout her career including “Charlie’s Angels: Full [...]

  • Bigger

    TV News Roundup: BET Plus Renews Will Packer's 'Bigger'

    In today’s TV news roundup, BET Plus renewed “Bigger” for a second season, and Netflix announced premiere dates for “On My Block” Season 3 and “Feel Good.” CASTING Josh Hartnett has been cast in Quibi’s upcoming series “Die Hart.“ Hartnett will play a fictionalized character of himself, an alumnus of the action school where Kevin [...]

  • Ja'net Dubois Dead

    Ja'Net DuBois, 'Good Times' Actress, Dies at 74

    Ja’Net DuBois, known for her turn as Willona Woods on “Good Times,” was found dead in her Glendale, Calif. home on Tuesday. The Pan African Film Festival, which she co-founded, said she “would be deeply missed.” Her family told TMZ the actress died unexpectedly in her sleep. She was believed to be 74. In addition [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content