Leslie David Baker portrayed “The Office’s” crossword-playing, pretzel-loving curmudgeon, Stanley Hudson. Originally a background player, his character grew in prominence and became a fan favorite. The series concluded in 2013 with Stanley happily retired in Florida. But in 2020, Baker announced that that wasn’t the end of the story.
“After having gone and done a lot of personal appearances at sporting events and Comic-Cons, I kept getting the question of, ‘What happened to Stanley after his retirement?’” Baker told ET’s Lauren Zima. “And after several years I said, ‘You know what? There is a life for this character after “The Office.” So let’s explore that, let’s look at it and see what he’s doing.’”
His decision to revisit the character was no surprise. That year, “The Office” was the most-streamed show in the country and several of his former castmates were capitalizing on the show’s continued popularity. Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly) and Angela Kinsely (Angela Martin) started the hit podcast, “Office Ladies,” just a year prior and Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone) opened a Cameo account where he would make over $1M by year’s end selling personalized video messages. If there was ever a time for Stanley (and Baker) to shine, this was it.
That July, Baker and his business partner, Sardar Khan, launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a pilot for an unlicensed spinoff to “The Office” called “Uncle Stan.” Despite the project’s dubious legality, this was not difficult; aside from verifying the identity of the creator to ensure that they are a real person, Kickstarter does little to scrutinize creators and their projects. Kickstarter makes it explicit that the impetus is fully on the user to determine whether or not a project is legitimate or a scam; it even has a helpful article called, “How do I know the project I backed wasn’t a scam?”
Unlike most businesses, Kickstarter does not guarantee that users who pay for a product or service will necessarily receive one. The site makes clear that it is only a “platform” for crowdfunding and does not intervene in conflicts between backers and creators. Theoretically, this would allow anyone with a modicum of clout or a shiny IP to raise a small fortune without ever delivering a product. Keep that in mind.
The “Uncle Stan” campaign immediately received extensive media coverage and within days was highlighted by Kickstarter as a “Project We Love.” Although it soon managed to exceed its $300K funding goal, ultimately reaching $336,450, the path forward for the Uncle Stan pilot was unclear. In September, when asked whether they intended to self-produce the full series or sell their pilot, Baker said that he was unsure but hoped to reconnect with his old network: “We are open. We’re still deciding, but I’d love to go back to NBC.”
Backers had questions, too. “how is this show not infringing on IP rights?” one Superbacker asked. Khan attempted to assuage their concern: “[We got] all our ducks in a row before going live with the Kickstarter.” (NBCUniversal was unable to be reached for comment.) Another Superbacker asked, “[Is] this actually a spin-off of The Office? Is Stan the same character as Stanley, and if so, why not call him Uncle Stanley?” Khan did not reply.
In the coming months, the pilot faced repeated delays and backers began to complain about long wait times for the campaign rewards they were promised. On February 11, 2021, Baker posted on Reddit that they had “recently commenced preproduction” and that since COVID-19 restrictions were being lifted in Los Angeles, they were “starting to get things in motion.” What this meant in practical terms was unclear. While Khan posted occasional updates on the Kickstarter page, he never provided any evidence that a finished product was on the horizon. Over two years after the initial campaign, one backer complained that she still hadn’t received her rewards and pointed out that “The [Uncle Stan] project doesn’t even exist on IMDB…” Khan reassured her that the rewards were on their way and promised that “IMDB will be updated shortly, you’ll be able to see all the info on there soon.” (As of today, a year later, there is still no IMDb entry for “Uncle Stan.”) That same day, he shared an update titled, “We are finally near the finish line!” It would be nearly a year before he shared again.
Many backers who felt they had been scammed voiced their frustration on Reddit. In the event of long delays, Kickstarter will sometimes “reach out to creators” but it asks that users be “supportive and understanding” and remember that “there is a human being behind every project.”
As a teenager, Sardar Khan was a protege of Tupac and a member of his rap group “The Havenotz.” When Tupac was murdered, he became co-owner of his company, Havenotz Entertainment; in 2007, the company fell on hard times and was forced to liquidate its assets. In 2011, Khan started his own company, the music production and distribution company We Got the Juice, LLC. However, he failed to file a bi-annual annual Statement of Information required under California law and the LLC was suspended in 2016.
In 2017, paperwork was filed for the development and film production company Caput LLC. Though Khan claims to be a co-owner, his name is not on the filing paperwork (perhaps due to his previous LLC’s suspension). In 2019, Baker was added to the LLC as Manager and Chief Executive Officer. That same year, Khan once again neglected to file a bi-annual Statement of Information, jeopardizing the company before his and Baker’s Uncle Stan had even begun.
On June 6, 2020, Khan started a Reddit account. The next day he made a post to the subreddit r/RedditWritesTheOffice titled “I’m working on creating an Office Spin Off series based on Stanley Hudson. Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? (Ex. Cheers-Fraiser).” In this post, he wrote that they had “a few writers and people come up with ideas and scripts, but nothing has been ‘the one’ yet.” Less than a month later, Khan created the Uncle Stan Kickstarter campaign.
The slapdash nature of the campaign did not go unnoticed. “As is, potential backers see no indication that this is anything more than an idea,” commented one backer. “Right now it looks like you guys came out the gate a bit prematurely.” Khan did not respond, and it soon became clear to many of backers that something else was monopolizing his and Baker’s time: cryptocurrency.
In early 2021, Khan was involved in the now infamous r/wallstreetbets subreddit during the historic Gamestop (GME) stock price surge. When the trading app Robinhood placed restrictions on the stock, sending the price into a free fall and enraging the subreddit, Khan volunteered to help: “I have close relationships with a few major celebrities and influencers let me know how I maybe able to help and use that to our advantage. This is personal and this war has just started.”
On February 3, four days before Superbowl LV, a user on the subreddit posted “We should buy a Super Bowl ad (fuck Robinhood).” In an update to this post, he wrote that Baker had volunteered to help and attached a screenshot of their correspondence.
Baker and the r/wallstreetbets community attempted to hash out the details for what this ad would look like and discussed how to surmount potential legal challenges. Then Baker asked, “Shall I have my team start a fundraiser? Let me know if you all approve. Time is of the essence.” Matt Grant (u/imreallynotatoaster) had the same idea and started a GoFundMe. Later that day, he updated the page: “We have a team! Contact Sardar at the address listed on this page if you have experience with ad buying or production or making commercials!”
Baker posted that, as far as the commercial went, “I would need my company to be the decision maker and have full access so we can do the entire service. Can’t have too many chefs. Any decisions made would be public and transparent and every penny would be accounted for. But if we don’t do that it will become too confusing, especially with the time constraints.” Presumably, that “company” was Caput LLC, which had been suspended only days earlier on February 1.
The GoFundMe failed to reach its ambitious $6M goal, and on February 9, Grant posted an update to the page: “GoFundMe has confirmed that all $30,000 to some 2,000 of you has been refunded. Thank you for your support.”
Redditors began to become suspicious of Baker’s behavior. On the same day Grant posted his update, another user made (and later deleted) a post to r/DunderMifflin titled, “Leslie David Baker’s Reddit account has been compromised.” In the replies, u/vivapolonium theorized that Khan had taken over Baker’s account to further his financial interests. Hours later, Baker posted a video titled “My official statement regarding reddit.” In it, he confirmed that his Reddit account was genuine and that he had personally been involved in the failed effort to fundraise for a Super Bowl ad. Under this post, he vouched for Khan’s legitimacy, writing, “Also, unless a post is made on my account or on u/Sardar-Havenotz account it is not something we are involved in.”
Shortly after Baker posted his video, Khan (in a since-deleted comment) lashed out at u/vivapolonium: “Instead of trying to throw dirt on my name or making dumb ass assumptions go look at the video/statement that Leslie posted.”
After both “Uncle Stan” and the Super Bowl ad failed to materialize, Baker and Khan partnered with Rocket Bunny to launch their own crypto token — the Stanley Nickel. The token’s name was taken from an “Office” scene in which Stanley becomes irritated by Dwight Schrute’s attempts to foist his new currency, “Schrute Bucks,” on his co-workers:
DWIGHT: “Don’t you want to earn Schrute Bucks?”
STANLEY: “No. In fact, I’ll give a billion Stanley Nickels if you don’t talk to me.”
DWIGHT: “What’s the ratio of Stanley Nickels to Schrute Bucks?”
STANLEY: “The same as the ratio of unicorns to leprechauns.”
This exchange would soon prove to be prescient.
After a handful of additional posts about $BUNNY and $NICKEL, Baker and Khan made their final Reddit posts on May 11 and fully pivoted to promoting their token on Twitter and their website. In their white paper (the roadmap for the business), Baker and Khan explained that the Nickel Token “is a completely decentralized and community-driven token” that is “celebrity-backed” and has “strong ‘meme’ potential.” (The white paper also describes Khan as “‘Sons of Anarchy’ actor” despite no such credit appearing on his IMDb page.) Though the token was initially on the Ethereum Blockchain, by the time the full white paper was published on the website, it had been moved to the less reputable Binance Blockchain.
In November after a round of private sales, the Nickel Token launched with a value of roughly 4.8 cents. Immediately, the value of the token tumbled (as Rocket Bunny’s had done some months prior) and by May of 2022 settled at 0.23 cents where it remains today. The token’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages have all been deleted, Rocket Bunny’s Medium post announcing the token has been deleted, and the website’s domain has lapsed (as has the domain for www.unclestantheshow.com). In addition, Nickel Token is no longer available to trade on Ethereum, Binance, or any blockchain for that matter.
After a long period of silence, social media pressure began to grow. In July of 2023, a Twitter user [me] made a thread pointing out Baker and Khan’s suspicious activity. That thread went viral, and on July 31 the user reported the “Uncle Stan” campaign to Kickstarter. Kickstarter customer support responded immediately, and by that night Khan had posted an update to the campaign’s page which Baker shared on his Instagram the following day. In it, they claimed that COVID-19 restrictions and the simultaneous writer and actor strikes had contributed to delays in production. Never mind the fact that Baker continued to work as an actor in spite of COVID-19, and the first strike started in May of 2023, nearly three years after the Kickstarter campaign ended. Still, Baker and Khan assured backers that they would receive full refunds and would receive the backer rewards they were promised free of charge. (The next day, the Nickel Token’s contact address was active for the first time since November of 2022, inexplicably transferring thousands of worthless $NICKELs to another wallet.) Since then, Khan has corresponded with backers directly via the Kickstarter campaign comment section and attempted, with some difficulty, to fulfill their refunds.
Despite all the setbacks, Khan still insists that “the show is still coming out.” Whether it will or not is anybody’s guess; neither he nor Baker have responded to requests for comment. The bigger question is why Kickstarter not only permitted the “Uncle Stan” project (which may have been in brazen violation of copyright law) on its platform but also spotlighted it for its user base. Kickstarter did not respond to three separate requests for comment. And there’s no indication that the practices that allowed this campaign to occur will change anytime soon.