Whether NBC likes it or not, the end may be near for The Office, as Fox orders a half-hour comedy pilot from series star Mindy Kaling – which, if picked up, will force her to leave the series at the end of The Office season 8.
The currently untitled project will star Kaling as an OB/GYN, who is described as a "young Bridget Jones type doctor trying to navigate both her personal and professional lives." Kaling will also serve as an executive producer and writer, and will be joined by The Office producer Howard Klein.
Originally developed for NBC under Kaling's current development deal with Universal Television, the network decided to pass on the concept, which allowed the pilot to be shopped to other networks. Aiming to find the perfect companion for their freshman series New Girl, Fox ordered a pilot in hopes of bringing it to series. Universal Television will still produce the series.
Unfortunately, if Fox does pick up Kaling's pilot for a full season, she will be leaving The Office before season 9. Marking the second actor from The Office prepared to leave the series, Kaling's programming predicament comes a week after it was announced that NBC is developing a spin-off of The Office starring Rainn Wilson's beet-farming character, Dwight Schrute.
While nothing has officially been announced by NBC, all signs point to The Office being on its last legs. As it currently stand, Dunder Mifflin could potentially be losing both Dwight and Kelly next year. To make matters worse, series star John Krasinski has previously stated that this may be his last year on the series.
Despite NBC not yet signing contracts for the majority of the cast (including Krasinski), the chances are that the network will do anything to keep Jim Halpert sitting at his desk at Dunder Mifflin – especially if NBC is preparing for The Office to end after season 9 (which is what appears to be happening).
If NBC was interested in keeping The Office running for many years to come, the network would have simply picked up the Kaling's pilot and then prevented it from making it to series. With NBC deciding to pass on the pilot, they're also allowing to Kaling to be visibly associate with another network – something that they also wouldn't want to happen if they saw any type of longevity in The Office.
Currently, NBC is unable to officially resign many cast members of The Office as it has yet to officially pick up The Office for season 9. And from the looks of it, by the time the network does get around to picking up the series for one final year, they may not be too many actors left to bring back.
This would only mean one thing: more Creed!
Expect to hear Fox make a decision on Kaling's pilot this May. Expect NBC to make a decision on The Office in the coming months.
Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio
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