'The Office' scoop! James Spader, showrunner reveal season 8 details -- EXCLUSIVE

james_spader

Image Credit: NBC Record 20980756

To get an idea of how James Spader will impact NBC’s The Office, here’s the simple, brilliant pitch behind the show’s eighth season premiere: Spader’s persuasive and mysterious character Robert California is appointed CEO of Dunder Mifflin and, during a visit to the Scranton branch, accidentally leaves behind a piece of paper. There’s a line down the middle of it, with the names of every Scranton staffer either on one side of the line or the other. Employees go into a frenzy trying to figure out: What does this mean?

The episode, titled “The List,” will showcase California’s inscrutable oddness and his impact on the rest of the team as they struggle to figure him out. The Emmy-winning Spader, it seems, is just as much in the dark as everybody else about his character, and that’s the way he likes it.

“He’s a sort of strange guy, and his enigmatic qualities are a good thing,” Spader says. “Everybody is trying to get to know who he is and what his juxtaposition is to the rest of the office. The characters are and the writers and cast members as well. And I’m hoping that’s going to be the fun of the season.”

The actor is expected to appear in 15 episodes this season — about double the amount of Kathy Bates, who played the CEO last season. “Robert California is there much more,” Spader says. “He doesn’t have an office, really. He catches a desk where he can. Already we’ve also gone out on locations … This is entirely different from [The Practice and its spin-off, Boston Legal]. That was a hour-long show that when I joined, it was a tiny office with four people. This is an office with 18 people and is a half-hour show. I’m really learning who this character is in snippets.”

To help aide Spader’s entry into the series, showrunner and co-star Paul Lieberstein and his team of writers have concocted several intriguing story ideas lined up for season eight in addition to “The List” [SPOILER ALERT]: California challenges the office manager to double sales. Dwight builds a productivity machine that becomes a sort of Doomsday device when it threatens to shut down the company if people make too many mistakes. The entire warehouse staff wins the Lotto and quits. And, of course, there’s Jim and Pam’s second baby.

“We’re not doing what we did last time; we’re not doing any weird rush to the hospital,” Lieberstein said. “We’re doing something fun with her hormones, [which] are in a state where she doesn’t know who to trust. After a scene of everybody being very polite to her, saying she’s more beautiful than ever, and ‘the old and the pregnant are the most beautiful,’ Dwight is the only one honest with her. She starts to think Dwight is the only one she can trust.”

And as for who’s playing the new manager now that Steve Carell and Will Ferrell have departed? That remains a mystery. The show isn’t bringing another actor in for the gig and all parties are staying mum on who will land the title — if anyone. “They didn’t just want to bring in a new Michael Scott. There’s not an attempt to fill those shoes,” Spader said. “That is something that I think they’re allowing a certain amount of flexibility on, not unlike the end of last season. The show is very balanced right now and they want to utilize the ensemble cast.”

Spader joined the show after his well-received guest spot in the show’s seventh season finale, which then turned into a semi-full-time offer. “I thought it would be great fun to do it for the hell of it,” Spader recalled. “I had a ball. All of a sudden [producers] called again. I probably should have seen it coming.”

“He killed it,” added Lieberstein. “He lit it up and brought out a really fun part of our other cast we hadn’t seen before. We watched the scene over and over again and really liked it and wanted to do more.”

The Office makes its return to NBC on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. Read more on The Office‘s return in EW’s annual mega TV Fall Preview issue on stands Sept. 2 (or subscribe here).
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Read more:
Done deal! James Spader joins ‘The Office’
James Spader’s addition to ‘The Office’: Does he make you interested in the show again?
26 Great TV Season Finales

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Comments (59 total) Add your comment
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  • jrs

    After my initial disappointment (not been a fan of James Spader for a LONG time), I’m coming around and actually looking forward to this! Love The office!

    • Billy

      After trying this out, all I have to say is, you guys completely ruined this show. I can’t believe it.

    • Carlos

      James Spader use to be an attractive guy with a nice body. What happened to him to let his body go?

      • Fez

        Age.

      • tnsmoke

        So did Christopher Walken back when he made The Deer Hunter in ’78. Spader has been making movied since the early 80′s. See what YOU look like 30 years from now. He doesn’t look that much different then when he was on Boston Legal and probably amped up the look FOR his ecentric role on The Office. Great actor, always worth watching.

      • Jim

        Carbs happened

  • Booyah

    I still think Steve Coogan would be the perfect branch manager, playing a relative of Alan Partridge.

    • Jen

      It would have been better if they would have ended this gracefully.

  • diyosaph

    I love James Spader in anything!

    • Strepsi

      But looking at him makes me feel old and sad.

      • anon

        Maybe you are….

      • Jen

        The 80s was almost 30 years ago. Think about that.

    • Peggy

      Ditto

  • Steve P

    I think it would be frickin’ hilarious if Craig Robinson nailed the branch manager position, rubs it in to the warehouse staff, then they win the lottery and split on him…

    • Jose

      That sounds hilarious

    • cajo

      Perfect!

  • googie

    james spader will rock it!

  • Sorare

    James Spader is great in everything and I’m really looking forward to this new season of the show. I still will miss Steve Carell, but I couldn’t be happier that Spader is coming to The Office!

  • RK

    Shocking that gleew.com has buried the story that the awful Glee movie did horribly this weekend.

    • MomC

      That had an entire article about how poorly the movie did back on MONDAY, when the week-end totals were released. It was a decent length and considered everything that has led to Glee exhaustion.

  • Brenda Barrett

    He looks like Darrell Hammond in this pic.

    • Jen

      He needs a hair transplant or something.

      • Just A Guy

        You could probably use a little tummy tuck yourself.

  • Another one bites the doosh

    Who would’ve thought the Bad Influence duo would be rocking back-to-back NBC comedies? I am looking forward to seeing more Spader in the Office world. Rob Lowe is an awesome and funny addition in P&R, and I think Spader will bring more of the funny too.

    • Jenn

      LOL! I didn’t think of that…

      • Sorare

        Me neither, and I loved that film! Spader and Lowe had great chemistry on screen together…those were the days!

  • Jenn

    Can’t wait!

  • Dave

    “The List” sounds hilarious! I cannot wait to see that.

  • Kevin

    not looking forward to this annoying character at all.. Rhys Darby should be the new boss

  • This has JUMPED THE SHARK

    When Carrell left, they should’ve cancelled this. They had 7 seasons, not bad. Continuing this is a mistake. This show is getting dumb in the same way that Happy Days lost it after Richie went to war. Pull the plug already.

    • Simm Fan

      What the hell do you care if they continue the show? Please remember, you do not have to watch.

      • Jen

        It was a perfect cast, and the show was phenomenal. You could have paid everyone what they wanted, and been completely successful. This is just totally MEH

      • Ryan

        I agree in the fact that I don’t have to watch but I would love to see the show go out on a good note, other than watch it suck and get cancelled.

    • Sorare

      I’m looking forward to the new season…if you don’t like it, don’t watch! There…an easy solution to your misery.

  • Chris

    I’m really excited! I love James Spader! He was hilarious on the finale and it’s up to the writers to do their best with his character!

  • KT

    @This has Jumped, if you are going to try to insult the show to its (mostly loyal) fans, please atleast use a reference that all people will understand. Some fans are younger (I’m 25) and, while I’m familiar with Happy Days, I have no idea what that show became after “Richie went to war.” Not so much of an insult…
    I’m looking forward to the new energy of the Office. Will it be the same as when Michael Scott was manager? Heck no. It will be different. It will probably not be BETTER, but I’m looking forward to a fun season, and I trust in the writers and actors.

    • DIGG

      KT sorry bud but a show “jumping the shark” is a common industry term.

      • JimH

        Richie never went to war but my theory was that his missing older brother was drafted between season 1 and 2 and died in Korea but Tom Bosley forbade the family from ever mentioning it. Hence, explaining the family’s pathetic need to convert Fonzie from a cool hood into a hopeless nerd (NERD!) older brother stand-in.

      • Fez

        If Happy Days lost it when Richie went to war, shouldn’t the original poster’s screen name be “This Show Has Gone To War”? And are you saying that Happy Days jumped the shark when Richie went to war, and not when Fonzie actually jumped the shark?

      • TR

        JIMH
        Happy Days” was set AFTER the Korean War…(1950-53).
        I really don’t think Richie’s brother died in the war since he was seen iin the first season…

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