The inking of a new two-year, multi-service deal by Universal Media Studios with B.J. Novak doesn't insure that NBC's "The Office" will be returning after next season, but it does give NBC some flexibility when the time comes to make its decision.
Novak, who plays Ryan Howard on the hit comedy, also writes and co-executive produces for the show. Under the new deal, he gains the title of executive producer, as well as the opportunity to develop new shows for the NBC Universal-owned UMS.
Steve Carell, the nominal star of "The Office's" ensemble, announced last month that the 2010-11 season would be his last on the show, and there was speculation that the show might end its run. However, NBCU officials told TheWrap at the time that there is a plan in place should Carell leave.
On Wednesday, an NBCU official told TheWrap that the contract UMS signed with Novak, an overall deal with several general components, is typical of the type of deals it does with its top comedic talent.
Clearly the deal gives NBCU options on the future of "The Office."
Novak was a writer on the WB sitcom "Raising Dad," appeared on MTV's "Punk'd" and did stand-up comedy before being tapped for his role in "The Office."
Most recently he received recognition for his performance in Quentin Tarantino's film "Inglourious Basterds."