The Blacklist is NBC’s best hope for the coming TV season. It’s a procedural crime drama; it stars James Spader. Heck, it’s a total CBS show. And it has been given the plum post-The Voice timeslot, Mondays at 10 — where, ironically, CBS has scheduled it’s most NBC-ish series: the super-serialized, 15-episode, Toni-Colette-starring Hostages. It’s like NBC and CBS got together and agreed to role reverse, on Mondays at 10. And yet, what TV critics wanted to talk about during The Blacklist Q&A at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013, was star James Spader’s haircut. And how much he will cherish his time playing Robert California on The Office. The Office gig, they were shocked to learn, was something to which he agreed for the paycheck, after playing California first in a one-off in the show’s seven-season finale.

“I had a ball doing that one episode… and two things happened,” Spader said. “I was offered Lincoln – a film everybody was doing [long pause] for very little money, and yet the commitment was going to be eight months in advance. And I had just finished doing a play in New York and need to make some money” — a job “that actually paid my bills, and lo and behold they aired [The Office seven-season] finale and people responded to the finale, and [the producers] called and said ‘we’d love to have you back in any capacity you’re willing’,” Spader told the dumb-struck, Office-idolizing crowd.  Spader said he agreed to return, “As long as you let me out in the fall, for this film…And that, probably more than anything, dictated the trajectory of the character on the show…So in a sense I never felt like I was more than a visitor there. I was fine with that.”

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