"The Office" is close to naming a new boss. According to sources, James Spader is finalizing a deal to become a series regular on NBC's top-rated comedy.
The move, first reported by EW.com and confirmed by THR, would follow Spader's successful turn on the season finale as one of multiple celebrity guest stars who were vying for Michael Scott's job as boss at Dunder Mifflin's Scranton office. But sources say the plan is for Spader to actually get an even better job: CEO of Dunder Mifflin, replacing Kathy Bates.
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For her part, Bates' impending exit comes as she needs to focus on "Harry's Law," Warner Bros. TV's David E. Kelley legal drama that got a second season pickup from NBC.
Spader does not have a deal, and talks are said to be in the early stage. But his character, the absurdly named Robert California, is expected to be introduced in the series premiere as a replacement for Steve Carrell's Scott. He'll immediately begin empire-building and get himself kicked upstairs, say sources.
That will leave an open position in Scranton. But it's unclear exactly who will get Scott's office. Will Ferrell did a multi-episode arc last season that received mixed reviews from critics. Meanwhile THR has reported that British comedian Catherine Tate, who also guest-starred on the finale, is a favorite of the producers.
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Longtime cast members Ed Helms, Craig Robinson and Rainn Wilson each have shown interest in taking over as the office manager, and producers have discussed the possibilities. And Ricky Gervais, an executive producer on the NBC show and star of its British forefather, recently threw his weight behind Will Arnett, who appeared along with Gervais in the season finale. But Arnett is starring in NBC's fall comedy "Up All Night."
Spader is repped by ICM.
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Copyright 2012 The Hollywood Reporter