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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Actor, comedian B. J. Novak will speak to UF virtually

A screenshot of the B.J. Novak Facebook event page

B. J. Novak, an actor and comedian known for his roles in “The Office” and “Inglourious Basterds” will virtually speak to UF Thursday.

The event will be a 45-minute Q&A held over Zoom and moderated by UF journalism department chair Ted Spiker, said Reitz Programming Board President Harrison Devoe. UF Student Government Productions and the Reitz Programming Board, a student-run event planning organization for the Reitz Student Union, collaborated to bring the event to UF.

Most of the questions will be based on Novak’s experiences as a writer, actor, comedian and director, Devoe said.

“The event is going to be an opportunity for people to learn more about their favorite Office character,” Devoe said. 

The payment for Novak will be split between Reitz Programming Board and Student Government Productions, which is funded by student fees, said Reitz Programming Board graduate advisor Janzen Rich.

UF students looking to tune in must register with their UFL emails before noon Thursday, Devoe added. Up to 3,000 students will be able to register for the event.

“We hope that this event is a positive experience for students, especially during this hectic time with exams,” Devoe said. “We want to make sure that students have an opportunity to take a step away from classes and their responsibilities.”

After Spiker’s questions, students will have a chance to submit questions and Reitz Programming Board’s talent director Christopher Cann will ask Novak fun, rapid fire questions. The question will be about Novak’s career choices and roles in famous shows and movies.

Spiker plans to ask Novak about his role on The Office and his more recent work, like his role in a movie about the rise of the fast food giant McDonald’s, “The Founder.”

“I really also want to dive into the comedic and creative process, because I think there are so many good lessons that students can apply to their own careers or interests,” Spiker wrote in an email.

Spiker hopes Novak will bring unique perspectives and some laughs during the event.

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“Given the popularity of The Office, I would imagine they’ll also be there for some fun Michael Scott stories too,” he wrote.

Novak gained acclaim executive producing and writing for the comedy TV show “The Office” where he played Ryan Howard, according to his IMDb page. The actor is also a Harvard University graduate and drama actor in movies like Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”

Novak also published a collection of short fiction, “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories” and a children's book, “The Book with No Pictures.”

This will be the second virtual event from Student Government Productions. Prince Royce was paid $65,000 in student fees for a speaking event in October.

“Students will appreciate a talented actor and comedian and learn from his experience,” Devoe said.

UPDATE: Novak’s contract with UF hasn’t been finalized yet. It is unclear if he will be paid $25,000.

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Lianna Hubbard

Lianna Hubbard is a reporter for The Alligator’s Investigative Team. The UF women’s study major began as a freelance reporter three years ago. She founded her community college’s award-winning newspaper before beginning at The Independent Florida Alligator. See an issue in your community or a story at UF? Send tips to her Twitter.


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