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Can ‘The Office’ survive without Steve Carell?

By Roger Friedman Is it the end for the folks at Dunder Mifflin?

Steve Carell says he wants to leave “The Office” after next season, the seventh — and maybe the last.

Without Michael Scott, NBC and the show’s producers will have to decide whether they can replace Carell and go on. It’s not so easy. Some hit shows have been able to replace secondary characters skillfully and move on. The example is “Cheers,” which brought in Kirstie Alley for Shelley Long after Long’s five years was up. “Cheers” went on for seven more seasons with Alley.

But could “Cheers” have replaced its lead, Ted Danson, and had the same success? Probably not. In the same way, “MASH” was very good at trading supporting players–Wayne Rogers, Larry Linville and MacLean Stevenson were succeeded by Mike Farrell, Charles Ogden Stiers, and Harry Morgan without any trouble. But could Alan Alda have been subbed? The answer is: no.

If 2011 is the end of “The Office,” it’s not such a bad idea. Most TV series go on way past their prime–take “Murphy Brown” or “Frasier.” Sometimes, the seven year contract that binds actors is a good thing. Mary Tyler Moore always had it right– go out on top. Don’t wait–as in the case of “Scrubs”– to be pounded into dust and then blown away.

With “The Office,” two of the supporting players are ready to leave anyway. Both John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson are setup to do anything they want in TV or film. B.J. Novak is good to go, and Jenna Fischer just had a nice turn with Michael Douglas in “Solitary Man.” And Ed Helms seems like he’s everywhere except “The Office” lately.

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About Roger Friedman

Roger Friedman began his column in April after 10 years with Fox News where he helped create Friedman’s prior experience on the Internet is with MSN’s Cinemania column. Friedman also wrote the Intelligencer column as a contributing editor at "New York Magazine," where he covered the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. In addition, Friedman has been involved in book publishing and filmmaking (Only the Strong Survive). For more about Roger go to

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One Comment

  • June 30, 2010 | Permalink |

    Completely disagree. Cheers did well, if not better , once Shelly Long left. Michael’s schtick as the manager has been old for 2-3 years. Offensive and pathetic is more like it now. Dwight, Andy, and the other cast members are much more funny. Heck, you could have Darryl run the place and it would be funnier.

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