The Office showrunner Paul Lieberstein has created more than just simple water cooler gossip with his announcement to depart the hit NBC comedy in favor of a previously announced, potential Dwight-centered spinoff, currently dubbed The Farm.
Lieberstein currently heads up the writing staff and co-produces for the series, and he can be found in the on screen role of soft-spoken HR rep, Toby Flenderson. The possible spin-off would follow Dwight's (Rainn Wilson) move from the city to the Schrute family beet farm, where he will also be running a Bed and Breakfast.
The Schrute farm has appeared in several episodes of season 8 and idea will be tested out on an upcoming episode of The Office later this season. If received well, it’s expected to make a midseason 2013 debut with Lieberstein serving as showrunner for The Farm, while still participating on The Office in a reduced capacity, which will eventually see Wilson leaving the flagship show.
Lieberstein's decision comes at a time when the future of The Office is still up in the air. Following the departure of series star Steve Carell last season, actor James Spader stepped in as the new Manager of the Scranton Branch of Dunder Mifflin. Now it has also been confirmed he too will not be returning to the NBC mockumentary after only signing a one-year deal.
Spader, Liberstien and Wilson will not be the only ones clearing out their Office cubicles— Fox has picked up a comedy pilot from actress Mindy Kaling, who plays Kelly Kapoor. Kaling, who is also a writer/co-executive producer on The Office, will portray an OB/GYN looking for love in her currently untitled "Bridget Jones-style" pilot, with The Office co-star Ed Helms als0 set to make a guest appearance.
In addition to Kaling, The Office head writer Daniel Chun has his own deal set with rival ABC Studios. No word yet what exactly the deal is, but the news means that with Lieberstein, Kaling and now Chun, The Office is down three of its long time staff writers.
Adding to the shows uncertainty, Office stars Ed Helms, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer have yet to secure deals for the next season. While still in talks for a ninth season return, the lack of a solid confirmation in tandem with the show's noticeable departures, leaves the question open if stars and staff alike are debating whether to stick with the long-running comedy or venture on into new endeavors, despite season 8 being great.
More updates on The Office as they come, plus look for The Farm test episode coming up later in this season.