Jenna Fischer’s ‘The Office’ Role Surprisingly Doomed Her Role as Matt Leblanc’s Wife on ‘Man with a Plan’
The Office star Jenna Fischer has revealed plenty of surprising behind-the-scenes secrets from the beloved NBC sitcom during the Office Ladies podcast with her co-star, Angela Kinsey, but she shared a surprising fact about another project she worked on. Fischer said she has been so associated with receptionist Pam Beesly for viewers that CBS executives fired her from the Matt LeBlanc-starring sitcom Man with a Plan. Executives said test audiences did not “believe Pam would marry Joey.”
In 2016, Fischer was cast as LeBlanc’s on-screen wife in Man with a Plan, which sees LeBlanc as a stay-at-home dad with three children while his wife is at work. After LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani on Friends, and Fischer finished filming the pilot, CBS executives said they wanted “more scenes” between the two stars. That changed after the pilot was shown to test audiences.
“They said — this is a literal quote, they said, ‘I don’t believe Pam would marry Joey. The chemistry doesn’t work between these two,'” Fischer told Kinsey, who played Angela Martin on The Office. “That was the feedback they got.” Kinsey was surprised. “They could only see you as Pam and Joey?” she asked, notes PEOPLE.
“Yeah,” Fischer said. “So it wasn’t working for them that we got married and had a family.” Fischer went on to say that she didn’t even learn about being fired until days before she was set to go to New York for CBS’ upfront presentation. She even asked her agents if the show was not getting picked up. “And they said, ‘It’s worse than that, hun,'” Fischer recalled. “And I was like, ‘What’s worse than that?’ They said, ‘It’s getting picked up, but without you.’ And I was like, ‘Wow, I guess I’ll unpack my suitcase.'”
When Man with a Plan finally hit the air in October 2016, Liza Snyder (Yes, Dear) played LeBlanc’s on-screen wife. The show’s cast also featured Grace Kaufman, Hala Finley, and Matthew McCann as their children. The show was canceled after its fourth season wrapped in June 2020. As for Fischer, she eventually starred in a sitcom after The Office ended. She starred in Splitting Up Together, opposite Oliver Hudson, from 2018 to 2019. Fischer also starred in You, Me and the Apocalypse, a British-American co-production that aired in 2015.
Fischer has noted in the past that it is hard for some Office fans to reconcile with the fact that she is not Pam in real life. In the podcast An Oral History of The Office, she said some people cannot understand how she and John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert, were not a couple offscreen. “I don’t know how to explain it, because it’s a little bit like telling kids there’s no Santa,” she said.