After being shrouded in secrecy for months, some news is finally trickling out about the planned spinoff of The Office. Aziz Ansari of MTV’s sketch comedy Human Giant has signed a one-year talent hold with Universal Media Studios as part of his deal to join the cast of the new NBC series. (Some of you might also recognize Ansari from his turn as a racist fruit vendor on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords.)
Producers still aren’t revealing much about the spinoff, but Ansari is expected be part of a larger ensemble that executive producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur are putting together. And despite all the speculation that a current Office character (like, say, Toby, who exited Dunder Mifflin to follow his dream of living in Costa Rica at the end of last season) will be spun off, Variety is reporting that the series might in fact be a “planted spinoff,” in which new characters are introduced on The Office in order to be transplanted to the new show (a la NCIS or Melrose Place).
Apparently Daniels and Schur haven’t quite nailed down the premise for the show, which is set to premiere this winter in the Thursday timeslot after The Office. “We’re focusing on making the best show we can make as a companion to The Office,” Schur said. “We’re trying to come up with the best concept and hire the funniest writers. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be making the final move to one specific idea.”
To that end, they’ve recently added three writers to the team: Tucker Cawley (Everybody Loves Raymond), Dan Goor (Late Night With Conan O’Brien), and Alan Yang (South Park).
And in apparently unrelated Office news, Universal Media Studios has sealed a talent deal with Rashida Jones, who appeared as Jim’s girlfriend Karen in season three. It’s currently unknown what Jones will be doing with the studio, although a return to Dunder Mifflin is not outside the realm of possibilities.
In addition, three new writers have joined The Office staff: Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig, New Adventures of Old Christine writer Aaron Shure, and Saturday Night Live scribe Charlie Grandy. Office vet Paul Lieberstein (who plays Toby in addition to writing some of the series’ best episodes) has been promoted to executive producer.