NBC devising "Office" succession plan

Fri Sep 10, 2010 1:50am EDT
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Want to know who's replacing Steve Carell on "The Office"?

You're probably in for a long wait. Sources say the final decision likely won't be made until after the upcoming seventh season wraps.

But by season's end, you will know who is getting Michael Scott's job.

One question being mulled by "Office" writers is whether those two roles -- the new star of the show and the new boss of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch -- are going to be the same person.

Here's the current plan: The first half of the season will celebrate Carell's final year and highlight different actors on the show, potential heirs to the throne. It's not entirely unlike the way "Lost" would bring a different character to the forefront of each episode.

For instance, one episode this fall will highlight Andy (Ed Helms), who's starring in a Scranton community theater production of "Sweeney Todd." Another will have Darryl (Craig Robinson) going over Michael's head on a matter to corporate and will showcase the character's ambitious side. An episode will detail Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) getting their baby baptized. Still another will give Toby (Paul Lieberstein) some focus when Michael is forced to attend mandatory counseling with his HR nemesis.

The second half of the season will be devoted to Michael leaving and who his replacement will be. In the spring, NBC expects to launch some online tie-ins -- polls and so forth -- trying to increase fan speculation about who should replace Michael.

Celebrity guest stars will make appearances along the way, including the previously announced Timothy Olyphant and such "Office" familiars as Kathy Bates, Amy Ryan and Melora Hardin.   Continued...

<p>Steve Carell, from the television show "The Office," accepts his award for favorite TV comedy actor at the 2010 People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles January 6, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>