Tag Archives: ” Paul Lieberstein

Paul Lieberstein Moves From “Office” To “Newsroom”

Paul Lieberstein earned kudos as a producer and actor (Toby Flenderson) on “The Office.”

Now the 1985 Staples grad heads to “The Newsroom.” He’ll join Aaron Sorkin for the HBO series’ 3rd season — as executive producer.

Production begins this spring. Potential news events to be incorporated (according to the Hollywood Reporter) are the Sandy Hook shootings, and Boston Massacre bombing.

Paul Lieberstein

Paul Lieberstein

Rod Serling Lives!

The Writers Guild of America recently asked its members to rate the 101 best-written shows in television history.

“The Sopranos” was Number 1. “Seinfeld” was 2nd. No surprises there.

But coming in 3rd: “The Twilight Zone.”

That’s right: a half-century-old black-and-white anthology is still called the 3rd best-written TV series ever.

DEE-DEE dee-dee DEE-DEE dee-dee…

Rod Serling

Those of us who remember creator/writer/host Rod Serling from his Westport days are not the only ones excited to hear the place “Twilight Zone” holds in America’s heart.

Mark Dawidziak of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes:

When you handicap the top three and adjust for short Hollywood attention spans, that’s practically saying “The Twilight Zone” is in a dimension all its own — far beyond the No. 1 spot….Submitted for your approval: the real winner of the Writers Guild poll.

It’s a stirring testament to the heroic influence of Rod Serling that, almost 54 years after “The Twilight Zone” debuted, so many television writers cite him and his “wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination” as inspirations. They couldn’t have better role models.

“The Twilight Zone” was a series with a social conscience and it was fantasy television that believed there was intelligent life on the other side of the television screen. It would be difficult to find a writer on any current fantasy, horror or science-fiction series who doesn’t count himself or herself as a proud descendant of the creator, host and principal writer of “The Twilight Zone.”

Westport has other connections to the Top 101:

  • In the final season of “I Love Lucy” — the #12 series –the Ricardos and Mertzes moved to Westport. (Hilarity of course ensued — click here.)
Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in "Westport." It says: "Yankee Doodle Day Celebration -- Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green."

Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in “Westport.” It says: “Yankee Doodle Day Celebration — Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green.”

  • 1985 Staples grad Paul Lieberstein is an “Office” (#50) writer/producer/actor (Toby Flenderson).
  • Rod Serling pops up again at #65, as a “Playhouse 90” writer.
  • Longtime resident Jack Klugman starred for a long time as Oscar Madison on “The Odd Couple” (#78).

I’m sure I’ve missed plenty more. I’m not looking for something as tangential as the fact that “All in the Family’s” (#4) Jean Stapleton’s cousin is Westport artist Alberta Cifolelli.

But click here for the full list. And if you’ve got a good Top 101/Westport connection, hit “Comments.”

Last Days At “The Office”

Tomorrow’s New York Times Arts & Leisure section features an in-depth, front-page story on “The Office.”

The hook is a big cast reunion of the long-running show, held recently in Los Angeles. The final episode will be broadcast May 16 on NBC.

Featured prominently in the Page 1 photo is 1985 Staples High School graduate Paul Lieberstein. He plays Toby Flenderson — and, as Bill Carter’s story notes, Paul is one of several characters who made the leap from writing and producing, to  the screen.

Paul Lieberstein (2nd from right) joins "The Office" cast at a recent reunion. (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC, via New York Times)

Paul Lieberstein (2nd from right) joins “The Office” cast at a recent reunion. (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC, via New York Times)

Paul Lieberstein Dishes On “The Office”

The hit show “The Office” has taken some hits this year. But it’s still one of NBC’s top properties — thanks in part to Westport’s Paul Lieberstein.

The 1985 Staples grad is an “Office” writer and producer. He also plays Toby Flenderson.

He doesn’t do many interviews. But yesterday he sat with New York Magazine’s online “Vulture” website, and talked. And talked, and talked.

Among his comments, posted today:

James Spader’s departure wasn’t entirely unforeseen.
“We always kind of thought of this as a transition year,” Lieberstein says, explaining that a one-year gig at Dunder-Mifflin “was what we had talked to [Spader] about when” negotiations for him to join the show began.

Paul Lieberstein

“It was just kind of fun, living in the moment and just enjoying his presence, and not really planning what it was going to be like in seasons to come,” he adds.

Some critics have suggested Spader’s character didn’t seem to fit well into the Office universe, but Lieberstein says he didn’t have any trouble working him into the show. “He was this kind of bizarre, fascinating character who could create his own reality,” he says. “When he was in the show, I never really questioned why he was in. I thought we found a lot of interesting things to play with him; as his life changed, opened up, we learned about his marriage, his divorce. And I loved his relationship with Andy, too.”

California’s final appearance will be in the show’s season finale, and his exit will be a definitive departure, Lieberstein says.

Missed having one, Michael Scott-like character at the center of the office? The producers do, too.
Post-Steve Carell, The Office this season has boasted what Lieberstein calls a “rotating center. We always had a center, but it wasn’t a single one for the whole year.” So for some episodes, Andy was out front; in others, Robert California.

Most recently, the show has been focused on the relationship between Jim and Dwight as they work together in Florida, as well as on new foil Nellie (Catherine Tate). Lieberstein says the shifting focus was intentional (“We knew we were going to do it,” he says), but hints that next season, there might be a switch back to how things were during the bulk of the show’s run.

“I have a romantic feeling for the simplicity of the single-manager structure,” he says. “Next year might see a return to it.” Not surprisingly, Lieberstein wouldn’t elaborate further, except to say that there almost certainly won’t be multiple layers of management at the Scranton office.

While NBC hasn’t officially renewed The Office next season, Lieberstein is confident the show has another season in it — even if some key cast members aren’t back.
“I see another year,” he says. “A full year, and a great year. After that, it’s for Greg [Daniels] and NBC to decide.”

Lieberstein declined to discuss the previously reported and ongoing negotiations between NBC and key cast members and writers, except to acknowledge they’re taking place. “There are negotiations going on, but I don’t think they feel different than other shows that have negotiations in their later years,” he says. “I’m optimistic.”

Would Lieberstein like to know in advance if next season is the last for The Office? “Well, it’s not like we’re Lost, or one of those shows where you kill people off or something,” he laughs. “But we do do these season-long arcs. And there’s a lot of stuff we’ve talked about that we could do if it were the last season. But again, that’s not my call.”

(To read the entire interview, click here.)

“The Office,” Michael Moore and Staples High School

Alert “06880” reader Galen Blumenthal was watching “The Office” Thursday night when he spotted this:

Yes, it’s Kevin Malone — dressed as Michael Moore for Halloween.

And wearing a Staples baseball cap.

The apparel is not as random as it seems.  Paul Lieberstein — a writer and producer on the show, who also plays Toby Flenderson on it — is a 1986 Staples High School graduate.

We wonder how many other viewers recognized the cap.

And how many other employees of Dunder Mifflin have Staples connections.