James Spader Exiting 'The Office'

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James Spader Exiting 'The Office'
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James Spader will not be returning to The Office.

In another shake-up at NBC’s long-running comedy, the Boston Legal actor has opted not to be part of the series’ ninth season, assuming one is ordered, NBC confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Spader has offered the series a distracting dose of star power since veteran star Steve Carell (Michael Scott) exited the series. In the months since, Spader has replaced Kathy Bates’ character as the fictional company's new chief executive, Robert California.

To hear Office executive producer Paul Lieberstein tell it, Spader has already contributed far more to the series than he had planned. The actor had signed on to play a two-scene role in the season seven finale, but the “life and intrigue” that he brought to the part made two scenes become a full season.

"James always wanted this to be a one year arc, and he now leaves us having created one of the most enigmatic and dynamic characters in television,” Lieberstein added. “He’s been a great friend to me and the show, helping us successfully transition into the post-Michael Scott years, and I’m grateful for that.”

The news of his exit comes as other members of the Office's staff –on and off camera— are toying with departure. Head writer Daniel Chun inked an overall deal with rival ABC Studios in late February, mere weeks after his fellow Office writer and star Mindy Kaling had her comedy project ordered to series at Fox. If the latter is ultimately picked up to series, Kaling, whose Universal Television deal expires in June, is expected to depart the Office and focus instead on the new effort.

Though sources have downplayed its likelihood in recent weeks, NBC is also said to be eyeing a potential mid-season spin-off centered around Rainn Wilson’s quirky Dwight Schrute character. The idea, which Wilson has since confirmed, is to further explore the Shrute family farm, with multiple generations of Schrutes involved. If the network opts to move forward with it, Wilson, too, will likely pack his bags.

Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose