As you are aware Steve Carell will leave The Office after this season. It is being reported that he may be leaving earlier, possibly a month before the May finale. Executive producer, Paul Lieberstein (Toby) had the following to say about the departure:
"Steve will have a number of episodes that dramatize and lead up to Steve leaving. Then we'll continue on for about four more episodes, and the spring will prove to be not about an actor leaving, but what happens in an office when a manager leaves and the chaos ensues and people vie for the job and are uncertain about their future."
Lieberstein elaborated by saying that this method was chosen to put the focus on how Michael Scott's departure will affect the characters, and not the actor leaving the show:
"It was about focusing the spring on the office and everybody else, and not just a character going. If the show was ending, it would be about that. But it's not."
Lieberstein didn't comment on who would take Michael Scott's place, but said that they looking at both inside Dunder-Mifflin and new outside candidates as well. Mindy Kaling (Kelly) is a possibility as well as Craig Robinson (Daryl) Rainn Wilson and Ed Helms.
The Office returns with new episodes on Thursday, January 20 at 9 PM ET on NBC. I would be happy with Robinson or Helms taking over, what about you?