'Office' gossip: Portia de Rossi! Danny McBride! Rhys Darby!

portia-danny-rhys-office.jpgThe rumors about Steve Carell's possible replacement on "The Office" are starting to fly fast and thick online. Let's sort through the latest.

Earlier this week, EW.com reported that the NBC show's producer had "quietly reached out" to a pair of HBO cult-comedy stars, Danny McBride of "Eastbound and Down" and Rhys Darby of "Flight of the Conchords," to talk about taking over Dunder Mifflin Scranton when Carell departs at season's end.

Now comes TV blog Warming Glow with a post that both refutes the EW report -- McBride will guest this season, its source says, but won't be a candidate for Michael Scott's job -- and puts forth another possibility: that an alum of "Arrested Development" will take the job. PopWrap applied some deductive reasoning to that item (i.e., subtracting "AD" cast members who don't have other shows or busy movie careers) and came up with Portia de Rossi, Jeffrey Tambor and Tony Hale as possible candidates.

The idea of Darby, "FOTC's" downtrodden Murray, or de Rossi, so great as unfeeling boss Veronica on "Better Off Ted," as the new branch manager is fun to think about, but we're not getting too excited yet. Based on what writer/executive producer Paul Lieberstein has told Zap2it in recent weeks, Michael's departure will obviously be a big part of the season, but it won't dominate the story right from the beginning.

And while the attention has been focused on people from outside the show, Lieberstein has also said that current cast members will be in the running too. The writers have broken stories for about half the season so far, so even they may not have decided yet which way they're going to go.

Not that we're against speculation. Having someone new come in could be a shot in the arm for "The Office," and until something actually is decided it's going to be fun seeing whose names continue to be attached. Outside of "American Idol" it's likely to be the most talked-about replacement this year.

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Photo credits: ABC (de Rossi), HBO (McBride, Darby)

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