Britney Spears on 'X Factor,' 'Mindy Project'

L.A. Reid, left, Demi Lovato, Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid, left, Demi Lovato, Simon Cowell and Britney Spears attend the Fox 2012 programming presentation post-show Party at Wollman Rink - Central Park in Manhattan.Lovato and Spears will be joining the two men as judges "X Factor." (May 14, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Verne Gay Verne Gay

Gay is the television critic.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Mindy Kaling -- you know her as Kelly Kapoor from "The Office" -- is what Hollywood refers to as a "multihyphenate," or someone who can develop, write and star in her own show. Multihyphenates are rare but esteemed -- in part because they do the job of three -- and Kaling, 33, has suddenly found herself as one of TV's most esteemed.

She wrote a couple dozen episodes of "The Office," earned executive producer stripes there, and then signed on to develop a new comedy for Fox that may well be network TV's most anticipated of the fall season.

"The Mindy Project" is not only eponymous but to a certain degree autobiographical. As she explained to TV writers here Monday, the "project" refers to the lead character's efforts at self-improvement. Mindy of "The Mindy Project" is a doctor in a hospital who's trying to balance work and relationships and instead bobbles both -- often badly.

Kaling described the character as sort of a female "Michael Scott . . . she wants to just be a better person. . . . In some ways, she's, I think, a great doctor, kind of hypereducated, but wants to be a better catch, wants to be a better friend, wants to work out, wants to actually read books instead of magazines and things like that, which is something I also strive for a little bit."

The autobiographical part, though, ends abruptly there: "My parents would have loved for me to have been a doctor, but I was bad at science, and . . . I was silent until I was like about 15 or 16 years old. But I was always a comedy nerd, like a silent comedy nerd -- stay up late, sneak downstairs, watch 'Saturday Night Live' and 'Kids in the Hall' and things like that."

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Kaling, meanwhile, said she'll return to "The Office" next season -- though most likely only for a brief cameo here and there: "I got so attached to that character even though I have like a line every episode."

Britney-Simon lovefest

Britney Spears' so-far brief tenure on "The X Factor" has been hounded by a few reports of backstage -- or rather onstage -- tantrums, the occasional walk-off and friction with Simon Cowell.

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But in her first extended meet-and-greet with TV writers at Monday's press tour session, she says she's happy with the show, and probably of greater importance, happy with Cowell.

"I was such a fan of the show, and actually my makeup artist was the makeup artist for Simon," Spears said. "And we talked about it a couple of times when I was on tour, but really never took it seriously until she went back and she started working for him, and then we just all met up, and it made sense. I adore Simon, and it was something I really wanted to do."

Spears also said this (via satellite with the rest of the judges from Miami): "His show has been really good for me to do because I've, you know, been able to help this talent come in and, you know, achieve their dream, and I can relate to them on such a level because I started out at such a young age. I know the foundation and the depth of what you go through to achieve your dream and doing this. So being able to do this has been, if anything, a great, great experience for me."

Cowell responded: "Britney, I'm not going to lie about this. I always said the No. 1 person I always wanted on one of these shows was Britney because I was fascinated with her as a person. You know that. As a pop star, and there's something intriguing about her. I didn't know her as a person, and I thought it would be interesting to have her on one of these shows so you see another side of her, and she's a really, really good judge."

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