Josh Schwartz says he and his fellow Chuck creator Chris Fedak are "huge Quantum Leap fans," and that’s how they came to cast Scott Bakula in the role of Chuck’s (Zachary Levi) estranged father.
"Quantum Leap — it’s not dissimilar to what we ask of Zach," Schwartz says, "to be able to do comedy, drama, romance and action," sometimes all in the same episode. "It was a show we loved, and at this point it’s going to require a lot of the same colors that Scott showed on Quantum Leap and Star Trek. So we’re thrilled."
Bakula’s guest arc will coincide with that of Chevy Chase, whose three-episode stint NBC announced earlier on Thursday. Schwartz says the elder Bartowski and Chase’s software genius Ted Roark will be rivals, with Chuck caught in the middle, and that we’ll see a somewhat different side of Chase in the role.
"[Ted Roark] is definitely in that Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, Bill Gates mold, a real visionary in the software game. But he’s going to be a very different character than the kind you’ve seen him play," Schwartz says. "He gets to have a little more edge, more darkness."
Idris Elba will be the second Wire actor to take a role on The Office this spring, and it’s also looking like the first — Amy Ryan — may yet reprise her role as Holly Flax, Michael’s (Steve Carell) possible soulmate.
"Yeah, we’ll be seeing her again," Office exec producer Jen Celotta says. "It’s not 100 percent yet … but we want her desperately." (I should note here that this news and that of the Chuck item were first reported at EW.com.) Some i’s need dotting, but if everything works out, Holly should return toward the end of the season.
The Office will also welcome back Karen Filippelli (Rashida Jones, who also stars in the Amy Poehler show from Office producers Greg Daniels and Mike Schur) later this season when the show revisits the Utica branch where Karen works.
"Michael has been doing well at the office, and David Wallace asks him to around and talk to some of the other branches, and one stop is Utica," exec producer Paul Lieberstein (aka Toby) says. "And he has Pam [Jenna Fischer] with him as his assistant."
Celotta adds that the meeting with Karen has Pam "very nervous and anxious," and that Karen will find out that Pam and her ex, Jim (John Krasinski), are engaged.
Lieberstein says that the stunt casting of Jack Black, Jessica Alba and Cloris Leachman in the Office Super Bowl episode was not a mandate from on high, but rather grew out of an idea from writer Aaron Shure. The three guests play stars of a movie several Dunder Mifflin employees want to watch, "and it seemed like a great way to write a little movie and shoot it," Lieberstein says.
So what kind of film would feature those three actors? "A Harold and Maude-type movie," Celotta explains, "where Jack Black is engaged to Jessica Alba and then meets her grandmother, her nana, and instantly falls in love with Cloris Leachman."
Viewers will only see a little bit of footage from the fake film, and since Black and Co. only shot for a day, Lieberstein says there’s not a ton of extra footage to showcase on a DVD release. "I wish we had more than we can show," he says.