Paul Lieberstein
Lieberstein in 2008
Lieberstein in 2008
BornPaul Bevan Lieberstein
(1967-02-22) February 22, 1967 (age 56)
Westport, Connecticut, U.S.
OccupationScreenwriter, director, producer, actor
Alma materHamilton College (BA)
GenreSituation comedy
Years active1992–present
Janine Serafin Poreba
(m. 2008)
RelativesWarren Lieberstein (brother)
Susanne Daniels (sister)
Greg Daniels (brother-in-law)

Paul Bevan Lieberstein (born February 22, 1967) is an American actor, screenwriter, television director and television producer. A Primetime Emmy Award winner, he is best known as a writer, executive producer, and supporting cast member Toby Flenderson on the NBC sitcom The Office. He served as the series' showrunner from seasons five to eight.

Early life

Lieberstein grew up in Westport, Connecticut,[1][2] the son of Judith and Stanley Lieberstein.[3] He is Jewish.[4] He attended Staples High School where he wrote his first sitcom with some friends and played the vibraphone in the band.[1] He then attended Hamilton College, where he joined Chi Psi and graduated in 1989[5] with a major in economics[5] (he "wanted to be a financier of some kind").[2] Lieberstein wrote references to the fact that Office character Andy Bernard was a Chi Psi from Cornell into the storyline of several episodes of the show. After college, Lieberstein moved to New York City, where his first job was as an auditor at Peat Marwick International, a job that lasted six months.[1][5] He followed that with part-time work at his father's law firm, "working as little as [he] could so [he] could write".[5]


Lieberstein and a writing partner got an agent with William Morris and moved to Los Angeles, living just off Hollywood Boulevard.[1] He landed his first writing job on Clarissa Explains It All, but was fired after one season when he and his writing partner split up.[1] He then had short stints in a few other writer rooms, including Weird Science and The Naked Truth, before his brother-in-law Greg Daniels asked him to join the King of the Hill staff.[1] He was a co-executive producer for 25 episodes in Season 6 of The Drew Carey Show, and a supervising producer for two episodes in that season: the season-opening "Drew Pops Something on Kate" (which he also wrote, along with "Drew and the Motorcycle" and "Drew and the Activist, Part I"), and "Buzzie Wuzzie Liked His Beer".

Lieberstein was also a producer on the third and final season of the television drama series The Newsroom.[6] In November 2017, it was announced that he would replace Kevin Etten as showrunner of Ghosted.[7] In 2018, Lieberstein wrote and directed his first feature film, Song of Back and Neck, which made it into Tribeca Film Festival.[1] On April 3, 2020, he announced plans for a sitcom about office life while isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the project eventually became the television film Out of Office.

The Office

On June 12, 2008, Variety magazine reported that Lieberstein would become one of the executive producers of The Office.[8] He worked in the writer's room from the start of the US adaptation and was asked by Greg Daniels to act as well, as Daniels wanted some of the writers to know what it was like on the other side of the camera.[1] Lieberstein has said he "attended 'The Office' acting school" and was often thrown by Steve Carell's improv during scenes.[1]

On March 22, 2012, it was announced that Lieberstein would step down from his showrunner role to focus on a planned spin-off series featuring Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, tentatively called The Farm.[9] Lieberstein was set to be the showrunner,[10] but in October 2012, it was announced that NBC was not accepting the series.[11]

In a SuicideGirls interview, Lieberstein said that "as an actor, which is just a very small percentage of me, I don’t feel Toby while I’m writing. It’s the hardest of the characters to access".[2] In an interview for his alma mater, Hamilton College, he commented on the bigger picture:[5]

When we are in pre-production, this is the best job in the world. Working 10 to 7, sitting around and brainstorming with the other writers, making things funnier, and writing and rewriting scenes—that's as fun as it gets. Adding acting on top of all that makes for incredibly long, grueling days, sometimes 6 to midnight. But acting has its rewards. Comedy becomes intensified in short scenes. Doing a scene with Steve Carell, trying to keep up with him, is as tough and fun and weird as any part of the process.

Personal life

Lieberstein's sister, Susanne, was the president of programming for YouTube Premium (previously holding this position at MTV), and is married to screenwriter and producer Greg Daniels.[2] His brother, Warren Lieberstein, was married to Paul's The Office co-star Angela Kinsey. His cousin, Paul Faust, inspired and portrayed "Cool Guy Paul", as seen in The Office episode "Chair Model".

Lieberstein married, secondly, to Janine Serafin Poreba, on July 19, 2008, at the New York City restaurant Battery Gardens.[3]

He has served on the advisory board of directors for Young Storytellers, an arts education nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles.[12]


Lieberstein's first Emmy Award was as a producer, sharing a 1999 Emmy for "Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less)" for his work in King of the Hill.

Lieberstein's work on The Office has resulted in numerous awards. In June 2007, he shared in a Daytime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Broadband Program – Comedy", for his work on The Office: Accountants webisodes.[13] As an actor, Lieberstein shared in a 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for "Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series"; as a writer, he shared a 2006 Writers Guild of America Award for the series, in addition to a WGA Award nomination for "The Coup". As co-executive producer, he shared a 2006 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Comedy Series".

Lieberstein received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from Hamilton College on May 22, 2011.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
2005–2013 The Office Toby Flenderson 141 episodes
2008 The Office: The Outburst 2 episodes
2009 The Office: Blackmail Episode "Pay Day"
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard Selleck Last Customer
2014 Bad Teacher Evaluator Episode "Evaluation Day"
The Newsroom Richard Westbrook 2 episodes
2016 Togetherness Greg Episode "Geri-ina"
The Mindy Project Cuddle Spot Man Episode "Mindy Lahiri is DTF"
2017 People of Earth Assessor 5 episodes
2018 Song of Back and Neck Fred Also director, writer, and producer
2019 The Big Break Ted Short film
Top Shelf Singles Evan Caldwell Post-production; short film

Directing, producing, writing

Year Title Role Notes
Director Producer Writer
1992 Clarissa Explains It All No No Yes Episode "President Ferguson"
1994 Weird Science No No Yes 3 episodes
1995–1996 The Naked Truth No No Yes 3 episodes
1997–2000 King of the Hill No Yes Yes Produced 50 episodes, wrote 12 episodes
2000-2001 The Drew Carey Show No Yes Yes Produced 27 episodes, wrote 3 episodes
2002 Greg the Bunny No Yes Yes Produced 2 episodes, wrote "Greg Gets Puppish"
2002–2003 The Bernie Mac Show No Yes Yes Produced 22 episodes, wrote 2 episodes
2003 Dead Like Me No No Yes Episode "The Bicycle Thief"
2005–2013 The Office Yes Yes Yes Directed 7 episodes
Produced 166 episodes
Wrote 16 episodes
2006 The Office: The Accountants No No Yes 10 episodes
2013–2014 The Mindy Project Yes No No 3 episodes
2014 The Newsroom Yes Yes No Directed "Oh Shenandoah", produced 6 episodes
2018 Song of Back and Neck Yes Yes Yes
Ghosted No Yes Yes Produced 6 episodes, wrote "The Wire"
2020 Space Force No Yes Yes Produced 4 episodes, wrote "It's Good to Be Back on the Moon"
2022 Out of Office Yes No Yes
2023 Lucky Hank No Executive Yes Co-wrote three episodes; also co-developer


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "BA #227: Paul Lieberstein". the Box Angeles podcast. May 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d 2006 interview with Paul Lieberstein by Daniel Robert Epstein, at the SuicideGirls website
  3. ^ a b New York Times New York Times Wedding Announcement
  4. ^ "The Top Ten Jews On Television - Jewcy". 13 December 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e Roll Credits Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine, a profile of Lieberstein from the Hamilton College website
  6. ^ Rose, Lacey (January 13, 2014). "Aaron Sorkin's 'Newsroom' Renewed for Third and Final Season". Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  7. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (29 November 2017). "'Ghosted' Gets 6 More Episodes From Fox, Taps Paul Lieberstein As New Showrunner". Deadline. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  8. ^ Aziz Ansari hired for 'Office' spinoff, a June 12, 2008 article from Variety magazine
  9. ^ Poniewozik, James (15 March 2013). "Back to the Land: NBC's The Farm Spinoff Failed, But Networks Shouldn't Abandon the Country". Time. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  10. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (March 22, 2012). "Producer's Exit Adds to Uncertainty at 'The Office'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  11. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (October 30, 2012). "NBC Is Not Moving Ahead With 'Office' Spinoff 'The Farm'".
  12. ^ "Our Team - Young Storytellers". Young Storytellers. Archived from the original on 2017-04-22. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  13. ^ 34th Annual Creative Arts & Entertainment Emmy Awards Archived 2007-12-09 at the Wayback Machine, from the Emmy Awards website
  14. ^ "Honorary Degrees - Honorary Degree Recipients". Archived from the original on 2010-09-23.