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Stephen Tobolowsky Out, B.J. Novak to Guest on 'The Mindy Project'

By Alicia Lutes, Hollywood.com Staff

And another one bites the dust! HitFix has confirmed the news we suspected after watching last night's new episode of The Mindy Project: Dr. Shulman (aka Stephen Tobolowsky) has retired from the show, permanently. The actor is another victim of the freshman show's ongoing retooling, alongside the upcoming departure of Amanda Setton (Shauna the receptionist) and Anna Camp (aka best friend Gwen)'s downgraded role from series regular to recurring guest star.

The website spoke with Tobolowsky via email, where the actor explained his unexpected departure as out of his control. ""As to not being on The Mindy Project, the decision was theirs,"" explained Tobolowsky. The actor explained that after the first two episodes, he ""heard [they] were shooting some extra coverage for the office scenes"" only to find out that his ""part was rewritten. Most of the jokes were gone. The part was far less whimsical and more perfunctory.""

The real surprise for Tobolowsky was when, after the reshoots, he still found that his part ""wasn't in the Thanksgiving show."" Shortly after, Mr. Shulman got the bad news, when he ""was told that they didn't really want Mindy [Kaling] to have a boss in the office. Then Mindy told me I was being written out of the show ... I certainly hope I didn't stink up the joint.""

Though Tobolowsky's disappointment is palpable, he understands that sometimes, these things are just the nature of the business. ""It takes a writer and a team of writers a good deal of time to create the chemistry of characters to make a show. ... I don't think anything untoward happened. I suspect I was a casualty of a show meeting many different demands from different sources.""

Executive producer Matt Warburton expanded on the sadness that the whole staff felt when faced with Tobolowsky's write-off, explaining that everyone ""really love Stephen, and Dr. Shulman was one of the writers' very favorite characters to write for."" In the end, it came down to story line integrity and needing to challenge the main characters more. ""We ended up realizing that Mindy would have more interesting challenges at the workplace if she didn't have an avuncular figure to go to for mediation. ... [T]he three of them [Kaling, Chris Messina, Ed Weeks] have to work together to solve problems for the practice—which leads to more interesting territory, story-wise.""

On the flip side, all is not about losing on The Mindy Project, as the show recently convinced one of its producers, B.J. Novak to tackle a guest-starring role on the show. According to Vulture, Novak will play Jamie, a potential love interest for Dr. Lahiri (of course!) and ""a charming Latin professor who bonds with Mindy over their love of a dead language."" A serious bonus for fans of the Kelly Kapoor/Ryan Howard relationship from The Office, no doubt! Vulture also reports that Professor Jamie will have a friend named Lucy (played by Susan Sarandon's daughter Eva Amurri). Can Kaling and Novak ever do a show where they don't play love interests (sidenote: not that we mind at all!)? The two real-life best friends have previously been linked as one of those on/off-again couples that apparently can miraculously still be friends and work together regardless of the status of their relationship. (People do that?) But we have to ask: does this mean the end of Josh and Mindy on the show? But he was so funny...ish! Novak's episode is slated to air early 2013.

Hollywood.com has reached out for comment, but had yet to hear back at the time of publication. Are you surprised by this recent casting shake-up from The Mindy Project? Let us know in the comments!

[Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/FOX]

Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes

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