EXCLUSIVE: Dwight Schrute may finally be off to greener pastures… literally. I hear that NBC is working on an Office spinoff starring Rainn Wilson for a potential midseason 2013 launch. No deals have been closed yet but I’ve learned that the proposed spinoff is a family comedy, which was the brainchild of Wilson and The Office executive producer/showrunner Paul Lieberstein. It will have Dwight (Wilson) living at the Schrute family beet farm and bed & breakfast, which have been featured on the show several times, including in an episode where Jim and Pam visited Dwight there. (photos below) The potential spinoff will be introduced in an Office episode later this season set at Schrute Farms. “Paul and Rainn have been joking for years about Dwight’s life on the farm, his family and how ill-suited he is to run a B&B,” a source close to The Office said. “A while ago, it started to feel like a show to them. NBC agreed, it’s been further developed to include multiple generations, many cousins and neighbors. (It is unclear if that would include cousin Mose who has been featured on the show, played by Office alum and Parks & Recreation co-creator Mike Schur.) At its base it will be about a family farm struggling to survive and a family trying to stay together.” Wilson and Lieberstein will executive produce the spinoff with The Office executive producers Ben Silverman, who has been working with Wilson and Lieberstein on the development of the project, and Howard Klein. Greg Daniels, who developed and executive produces The Office, is not involved in the offshoot. He has his hands full already with The Office, Parks & Recreation and his newly picked-up NBC comedy pilot Friday Night Dinner.
This is NBC’s second stab at launching an Office spinoff. Under Silverman, the network seriously considered the idea during the 2007-08 season but that ultimately evolved into the Amy Poehler-starring Parks & Recreation, created by The Office‘s Daniels and Schur.
If NBC proceeds with the spinoff, that will not mean an immediate departure from The Office for Wilson, once heavily tipped to succeed departing Steve Carell as the show’s new leading man. If the veteran comedy is renewed for a ninth season as many expect, Wilson will return in the fall before segueing to the new series in mideason. Deliberately or not, the writers on The Office have been planting the seeds for a potential Dwight departure from Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton office. Deeply convinced that he is the best salesman there, Dwight was crushed when it was Andy (Ed Helms) and not he getting the manager job vacated by Michael Scott (Steve Carell). Ever since Michael left, Dwight, now No. 2 to Andy, has been unhappy and looking to do something new. He recently flew to Tallahassee to interview with uber boss Robert California (James Spader) for a position there. The setup for the spinoff, with Dwight moving to a new family environment is reminiscent of the Cheers spinoff Frasier, which also featured a switch from a workplace to family format, moving Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) to a new locale.
Even with the promise of a potential new show, NBC is also serious about trying to extend the mothership series. I hear that The Office producer Universal Television has re-opened discussions with the other key Office cast members, approaching them over the past week or so with informal offers for next season. None of the core Office cast members, including Ed Helms, John Krasinksi and Mindy Kaling, have deals for next season, and while the studio can’t formally sign the actors before there is a renewal for the show, it is trying to shore them up in anticipation of a pickup. It may not be easy to get the whole gang back together. Helms has movie offers lined up, including a Hangover trequel. Krasinski had been hinting that this could be his final season on The Office as he too has been busy in features, including co-writing and starring with Matt Damon in a movie directed by Gus Van Sant, which will start shooting in April. And Kaling, who is also a writer/co-executive producer on The Office, has been actively developing her own shows and has a live-action and animated comedy in contention at NBC.