NBC considers launching spin-off focused on Rainn Wilson's character.
By Gil Kaufman
Up until now, we've gotten just an occasional glimpse at the bizarre happenings at the Schrute family beet farm. But if NBC has its way, we may be seeing a lot more of agritourism hotel owner and Assistant to the Regional Manager at Dunder Mifflin, Dwight Schrute.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, an unnamed source at NBC confirmed that the network is thinking about a spin-off centered on Rainn Wilson's paintball-loving character and his family's farm. The show would delve deeper into life at Schrute Farms and include a number of other Schrutes.
With "The Office" not yet picked up for a ninth season, the plan is to start testing the concept in an episode later this season. So far, it's believed that Wilson, as well as actor/showrunner Paul Lieberstein and executive producer Ben Silverman are involved.
"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 told Deadline Hollywood. "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. At its base it will be about a family farm struggling to survive and a family trying to stay together."
As the Reporter noted, while Wilson's quirky character has a devoted cult following -- as evidenced by such comprehensive fan sites as Schrute Space -- the spin-off concept is not necessarily a slam-dunk. Just as the short-lived, unfunny "Friends" spin-off "Joey" crashed and burned, it's possible that the shrinking "Office" fanbase might not follow Dwight off into the beet fields.
"The Office" got a major overhaul at the end of last season, when star Steve Carell left and actor James Spader was brought in as new boss Robert California. So far, the strong ensemble cast has struggled to find its legs without Carell's outrageously clueless Michael Scott to ground them and average ratings have slipped down by more than a million viewers since last season. Given the show's legacy and appeal to young male viewers, though, the trade magazine said it was likely "The Office" would be picked up for another season.