ASSOCIATED PRESS: Ferrell will play a visiting branch manager over an arc of several episodes. NBC announced the casting Wednesday with the promise that Ferrell’s character will be “just as inappropriate” as Steve Carell’s Michael Scott. Carell’s farewell is expected four episodes before the season finale of “The Office.” In preparation of his exit, NBC is bringing in high-profile guests, including “The Office” creator Ricky Gervais, reprising his role as David Brent.Gervais will make a cameo on tonight’s episode. MORE
RELATED: Ferrell called the producers, offering his services because he’s a fan and wanted to commemorate Carell’s swan song by taking part in The Office star’s seventh and final season on the show. Ferrell and Carell are close friends who co-starred in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The stint brings Ferrell back to NBC, where he launched his career on Saturday Night Live. Additionally, he has done arcs on such series as NBC’s 30 Rock and HBO’s Eastbound & Down, which he also produces. “We found Steve Carell when he was nothing but a movie star and we turned him into a television star,” said The Office exec producer Paul Lieberstein (who doubles as the annoying Dunder Mifflin HR executive Toby Flenderson, Michael Scott’s arch-nemesis. “We are proud to continue The Office’s tradition of discovering famous talent, and we hope that once America gets a good look at Will, they’ll see what we see, tremendous raw sexuality.” MORE
RELATED: On Thursday, from Studio 6B in Rockefeller Center, home of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” the NBC anchor Brian Williams will officially introduce the network’s newest boss, Stephen B. Burke, in a closed-circuit presentation to the entire company. Every one of the company’s 27,000 employees will also be given a coffee table book, “NBCUniversal and Comcast: A Century in the Making,” that interweaves the companies’ histories. Yet Mr. Burke’s real “welcome to NBC” moment came six days ago with the ouster of the MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, a classic NBC episode of infighting, secret negotiations and the splashing of internal gossip across the press.
For years, NBC’s own internal dramas were often more compelling than anything it offered viewers — from the Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien fiasco to Mr. Olbermann’s famous temper to the hard-partying antics of the former entertainment boss, Ben Silverman, to the prime-time travails of Mr. Burke’s predecessor, Jeff Zucker. It now falls to Mr. Burke, who for 12 years has been far from the media glare as the No. 2 executive at Comcast in Philadelphia, to revitalize the ailing network as the new chief executive of NBC Universal.
His experience and personality are the antithesis of what NBC represents: he is not a programmer, has no experience in news and avoids playing corporate feuds in the press. A slightly patrician Republican with a Harvard M.B.A., he is so averse to playing internal politics that he recently held meetings with executives at a Midtown Manhattan coffee shop rather than his temporary office in Rockefeller Center to avoid prompting office gossip.[…] In the wake of the resignation of Mr. Olbermann, the left-leaning face of MSNBC, some critics have speculated in the press that the move was a politically motivated decision by Comcast. While most of Mr. Burke’s political donations have been to Republicans, Mr. Burke describes himself to associates as a “soft Republican,” and he voted for Barack Obama for president, even though he contributed to John McCain’s campaign, in 2008. MORE