There are whispers across Hollywood that James Spader may be joining the cast of "The Office" following his memorable cameo in the season finale. Rumor has it that he'll replace Kathy Bates, who played a recurring role as the CEO of the fictional Sabre printer company. She's leaving the show to focus on the second season of the legal drama "Harry's Law."
If this scenario doesn't sound familiar, it should. In 2003, Spader joined another long-running show, ABC's drama "The Practice," replacing Dylan McDermott, who had been nominated for drama actor (in 1999, losing to Dennis Franz for "NYPD Blue"). Although "The Practice" had largely gone out of Emmy favor by its eighth and final season, Spader's one-year stint won the series its first and only lead-acting Emmy. The following season, his character was spun off onto a new series, "Boston Legal," for which he won two more Emmys (2005, 2007).
If he joins the cast of "The Office" this fall, will history repeat itself? Steve Carell has been nominated five times for playing bumbling boss Michael Scott and is expected to receive a sixth nomination this year, but he has yet to win. And he's not the only cast member with bad luck at the Emmys. The series, which won as top comedy in 2006, has never won an award for acting, so a win next year for Spader would be the series' first.
Spader could also become the second male actor to win lead acting Emmys for both comedy and drama. The first was Robert Young ("Father Knows Best" in 1958, "Marcus Welby M.D." in 1970). Last year Edie Falco became the first woman to accomplish this feat when she won as comedy actress for "Nurse Jackie." Previously, she was a three-time champ for "The Sopranos" (1999, 2001, 2003).
-- Tom O'Neil
Photo: James Spader with his Emmy for "Boston Legal" in 2005. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times