LOS ANGELES -- When Greg Daniels began developing an American version of "The Office," the critically acclaimed British television series, the first person he hired was not Steve Carell, who would go on to become an international comic star, or any of the up-and-coming actors who would form the unrequited-love pairs known to fans as Dwangela and Jam.
Rather, his first hire was a stand-up comic who, although he was a rising star on the West Coast comedy scene, was also just a few years out of college and had done little more than write for a quickly canceled situation comedy and play largely improvised roles in a handful of episodes of the MTV reality show "Punk'd."
That male ingénue was B. J. Novak, who was for much of the last season at the center of the on-screen action on "The Office," while also serving as a co-executive producer and one of the senior writers for the series.
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