Photo Credit: Brian Killian/WireImage
The search committee has made its decision: James Spader will be taking over Dunder Mifflin! News broke last week that that the three-time Emmy winner (for Boston Legal and The Practice) was in talks to join The Office, and now NBC confirms that Spader has signed on to become a regular for the show's eighth season. But although he memorably guest-starred as a contender to take over the paper company's Scranton branch on last season's finale, Spader won't be replacing Steve Carell -- at least, not exactly.
Instead of becoming DM's new regional boss, Spader will be playing the company's CEO, replacing Kathy Bates (who will continue to star in her own NBC hit, Harry's Law). Reportedly, Spader will have a much larger role in the show than Bates did, functioning as a regular instead of a guest star. And in clever trick on the audience -- possible spoiler alert! -- it will be revealed in the season premiere that Spader's strangely charismatic Robert California landed the branch manager gig over the summer and promptly made the leap to CEO in record time.
"James will reprise his role as Robert California, this uber-salesman that has a power to convince and manipulate, like a high-class weirdo Jedi warrior," Paul Lieberstein, one of the show's exec producers (and the man who plays series regular Toby), said in a statement. "He'll have been hired over the summer as the new manager, but within hours, got himself promoted. Within days, he took over the company. James has an energy that is completely his own, and The Office has no tools for dealing with this guy. We're thrilled he's joining our cast."
News broke in late June that Spader was in talks to join the show, having wowed producers with his guest appearance in last season's finale. "He was so funny and had this weird energy. We didn't want to pass it up," a show insider told Entertainment Weekly. Spader was certainly memorable, purring lines like "There is no such thing as a product. There is only sex," and reducing John Krasinski's character Jim to adorable stammering. Watch the clip that got him the job!
Now the question on everyone's mind is: Who will be Dunder Mifflin's new regional manager? According to TV Line, the race for that gig is down to Dwight (Rainn Wilson), Jim and Andy (Ed Helms). Of course, it could also be one of those other contenders from last season's round of interviews (so meta!). Of that group, British comedian Catherine Tate seems the most likely to take over, unless NBC pulls a total coup and gets Jim Carrey. But we'd be happy with Tate. Wouldn't it be nice to have a woman in charge of the paper-pushing for a while?