Though deemed a series regular in Season 8, James Spader was contracted to appear in only a minimum of 15 episodes throughout this year. Starring as CEO Robert California, the actor was never meant to replace Steve Carell, but instead came into sub for Kathy Bates, who had moved to the NBC series Harry's Law.
Executive Producer Paul Lieberstein had this to say about James Spader's decision not to renew his contract.
"James always wanted this to be a one-year arc, and he now leaves us having created one of the most enigmatic and dynamic characters in television. He's been a great friend to me and the show, helping us successfully transition into the post-Michael Scott years, and I'm grateful for that."
It is not known at this time if James Spader's Robert California will be written out of the series before the Season 8 finale, or if his disappearance will be explained next year in Season 9.
In recent episodes, recurring character Todd Packer has become more of a presence, which may be leading to David Koechner signing on as a series regular when the show returns in the fall of 2012.