Ed Helms Joins Mindy Kaling's Fox Pilot -- Is 'The Office' in Trouble?

Help wanted! Although Helms is not set to leave The Office altogether, there may be more spots opening up on the veteran comedy soon

Is anyone even going into The Office (Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET, on NBC) these days? It seems like all the news about NBC's top-rated comedy is focused on departures. Mindy Kaling's developing her own show. So is Rainn Wilson, who's taking Paul Lieberstein (writer-producer and portrayer of sad sack Toby) with him. James Spader's not returning. And now comes word that Ed Helms has a part in the pilot for Kaling's as-yet-untitled sitcom.  

Helms will play a Wall Street analyst who goes on a blind date with Kaling’s character, and for now, the role is a guest part. Will it stay that way? Well, for the moment anyway, signs point to "yes." A source close to Helms told TV Guide that the actor "would like to return (to The Office), at least for part of the year, and that he has submitted a counterproposal to the studio's initial offer."

But as the popularity of the show has grown, so has the star power of its actors. And that means a greater chance that more will leave to make movies, as Steve Carell has done. In the coming months, Helms will probably shoot The Hangover 3, and John Krasinski is scheduled to shoot the upcoming Matt Damon flick, Promised Land. No doubt more film offers will come to these two, and for the other cast members as well.

"It's likely [that season 9 will] be written for some of the characters as a last year," a source told TV Guide. And with Lieberstein focusing his energy on Wilson's spinoff, Universal TV is looking for a new Office showrunner to face that challenge, among others.

On the bright side, Entertainment Weekly has reported on an intriguing plot twist coming up at the end of this season, and it sounds like great fodder for the show's crack team of writers to develop further. BJ Novak told the magazine that viewers will learn the truth about Angela's baby. "Dwight will go on a quest to prove the paternity," Novak said. "He has a whole scheme concocted to get some DNA to test, and it is one of the best schemes I’ve ever seen him do…[The answer] will either be in the last second of the finale or a cliffhanger. We’ll take it right down to the wire."

Hey, maybe the writers could incorporate a new-season time jump, a la Mad Men, or a flash forward, a la Lost! Dwight's grown-up son could take over the office, and torture grown-up CeCe, and hire Michael Scott's grown-up progeny! Nah, actually that sounds more like a spin-off. The Office doesn't need any more of those.

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