B.J. Novak, who has been fun in front of the cameras but a huge boost behind the cameras, is cutting back on "The Office" when the show returns next season on NBC.
Novak, who played Dunder-Mifflin temp Ryan Howard (and later an executive in the company), will depart. He joins both James Spader and Mindy Kaling as exits from the previous season. Kaling, of course, has a new series on Fox called "The Mindy Project." Spader played a new character and foil for the office, but departed after a single season.
It won't be the last viewers see of Howard, however. TV Guide reports Novak will most likely come back and do some guest spots on the show, and could even write an episode to two. He will not be a producer, however. Novak also won't head to Kaling's new show despite holding an executive producer credit on the pilot.
But that's not where the changes end. Paul Lieberstein, who plays human resources officer Toby, is taking off to work on the new "Office" spinoff centered around Rainn Wilson. Also both Ed Helms and John Krasinski will have lighter schedules because of busy film work.
Greg Daniels, who helped adapt the original British Ricky Gervais project to American television, will be back full-time as showrunner, replacing Lieberstein, who held that role before.
"The Office" finished last season with a 3.3 rating/5 share, according to Fast National average overnight ratings from The Nielsen Co. That's down nearly 23 percent from last year, and finished 12th among NBC shows, and No. 76 overall. NBC averaged a 2.6/4 on Thursdays, down 13 percent from the 3.0/5 it earned the year before. NBC beat only The CW on Thursdays, while CBS averaged a 7.8/13 and Fox a 6.7/11.
"The Office" returns for its ninth season on Sept. 20.
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