Press Tour 2012: NBC president on ‘The Office,’ Dwight spin-off and more

Even though the bulk of yesterday’s NBC executive session at press tour was spent discussing the network’s comedy strategy – and the hope of finding shows with broader appeal than “Community,” “30 Rock,” etc. – there was still more to discuss about those comedies. So when I ran into new NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke at NBC’s press tour party, I asked her about the current plans for an “Office” spin-off built around Dwight, the state of “The Office” itself, and what might happen with all the marginally-rated returning NBC series that have shorter-than-normal episode orders for this season.

“The Office” spin-off is still not technically ordered, right?

What happened was, Rainn (Wilson) came in and talked about what he wanted to do with the spin-off, and they made the decision at the show to incorporate it as an episode. Just yesterday, I went to see the first and second episode table reads for “The Office,” where I could see that starting to percolate in Rainn’s story. They’re leading up to that, but I don’t have any creative material on the spin-off yet.

But the assumption is that it’s going to happen.

Yeah. Obviously, we’d have to see it, but that’s the assumption until we know differently.

Back when this idea initially came up, the idea was that “The Office” ends and this takes its place. Is that still the thinking, or do you now think the original show could co-exist with it?

I remember that we said that, but their choice is up for grabs. With “The Office,” Greg (Daniels) is very involved, beginning a little bit of creative renaissance, there are some interesting, original ideas he’s bringing in. We couldn’t box ourselves in in that way (of saying it definitely ends when the spin-off starts), but I think the series and the spin-off could co-exist.

Well, I want to ask about the original. Greg’s now back and being hands-on, some people have left, others will be doing part-time work – what is the show going to look like this year?