Could the future of NBC’s “The Office” be any more uncertain?
As NBC's The Office nears the end of its eighth season this spring, so many things remain up in the air -- both in the sitcom's plot, as well as behind the scenes -- that what are we to make of a season nine, if there even is one?
For those of you not following along, let's recap.
On the show:
- Erin essentially abandoned her job as the receptionist to stay in Tallahassee, while Andy did likewise to win her back. In his absence, Nellie filled the vacuum and anointed herself office manager in Scranton, with the apparent blessing of company CEO Robert California.
Behind the scenes, meanwhile:
- James Spader (who plays said company's CEO), already is known to be one season and done with the series.
- NBC also already has announced plans to develop a spin-off for Rainn Wilson (Dwight).
- And we've learned from EW that Paul Lieberstein (Toby) would leave his role as The Office's showrunner to work on the Dwight spin-off.
- Mindy Kaling (Kelly) has a sitcom pilot in play with FOX this spring, which puts her future as an executive producer, writer and co-star with The Office in doubt.
- Kaling's show has cast Ed Helms (Andy) as a potential love interest for her FOX character.
- Plus, Deadline reported that cast members Helms, John Krasinski (Jim), Jenna Fischer (Pam) and B.J. Novak (Ryan, and also a writer/executive producer) do not have contracts beyond this season.
That's a lot of balls up in the air for the network and the show to juggle. Sounds like NBC is preparing for the end; nay, even encouraging it?
Could stalled contract talks with some of the key cast members be a power play?
Would FOX greenlight Kaling's comedy just to sabotage NBC's "best"-performing sitcom?
Should NBC simply go ahead and move forward with the Dwight Schrute beet farm spin-off for next midseason? And in doing so, should the network try to negotiate a short 13-episode ninth and final season for The Office to wrap things up?
How do you want to see this play out?
P.S. (UPDATED 7:17 p.m. Thursday) Warner Bros. just announced not only that The Hangover Part III will come to a cinema near you in May 2013, but that production of the movie (which co-stars Ed Helms) will begin in September 2012. So don't expect to see Helms in that much of The Office's ninth season.