Dunder Mifflin is falling! Dunder Mifflin is falling!
OK, so maybe we're getting just a wee bit ahead of ourselves, but we can confirm the news that James Spader is indeed leaving The Office. That, coupled with the recent report that there is a spinoff in the works for Rainn Wilson leaves us...concerned that one of this longtime fan favorite might be closing up shop for good.
So is it? And why is James leaving?
According to show sources, Spader's initial agreement to The Office was for one year only, and he has decided to stick with that contracted term and not continue past the show's eighth season finale in May. Variety first reported the news.
Spader was brought in to help fill the void left behind when "World's Best Boss" Michael Scott, aka Steve Carell, left the series in May 2011. His character, CEO Robert California, has appeared in most of the episodes, but not all, this season.
Wilson and executive producer Paul Lieberstein have been working on a Dwight Schrute pilot for about six months now (taking place at Schrute Farms), and NBC has announced the pilot will air as an episode of The Office this season.
So does all of this spell a possible May 2012 end date for the mothership?
NBC has yet to announce if The Office will come back for a ninth season this fall, however the show remains the network's highest rated Thursday night comedy (based on last week's ratings), hovering at about 5 million viewers.Yes, it's doing better than 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Up All Night.
So bottom line? No need to panic just yet, Office fans.