ET confirms that James Spader is joining the cast of "The Office" as a series regular -- but is he taking over Steve Carell's vacant chair at Dunder Mifflin?
Rumors have been tossed around regarding who may be the new branch manager on the show, with cast members Ed Helms, Rainn Wilson and John Krasinki as possible candidates for the big promotion at the Scranton, PA paper supply company. Brit comedian Catherine Tate was also a reported front-runner, and "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini reportedly turned down an offer from the producers.
But the Emmy-winning Spader will not take Carell's seat -- in fact, he'll play CEO of Sabre, the parent company of Dunder Mifflin.
"James will reprise his role as Robert California, this uber-salesman that has a power to convince and manipulate, like a high-class weirdo Jedi warrior," explains one of "The Office" executive producers and series regulars, Paul Lieberstein. "He'll have been hired over the summer as the new manager, but within hours, got himself promoted. Within days, he took over the company. James has an energy that is completely his own, and 'The Office' has no tools for dealing with this guy. We're thrilled he's joining our cast."
"The Office" returns to NBC this fall on Thursdays.
Related stories on ETonline.com:Show Must Go On Despite Last-Minute Injuries on 'America's Got Talent'Meet the Outrageous New Cast of 'Big Brother,' Season 13