Steve Carell to leave 'The Office' next year

NBC confirms news, leaves open chance of guest visits.

NEW YORK -- Michael Scott is leaving the building after one more season in "The Office."

NBC has made official what many had long expected: Steve Carell and his breakout character will leave "The Office" after his contract expires next year.

Carell had first hinted at his departure from the popular sitcom in a radio interview earlier this year, and NBC primetime entertainment president Angela Bromstad now told the Associated Press that he will indeed quit the show after his contract ends in 2011. An NBC spokesman confirmed the plans.

Bromstad pointed out that Carell has become a "major movie star" and it is not unusual for such stars to leave a TV role. She added that while the departure will affect the show, she feels "The Office" is strong and expressed her "tremendous faith" in the ability of the writers and actors to keep it alive. NBC left the chance of an occasional guest visit by Carell open.

The creative team behind the show will ponder options, such as replacing the Scott character with a new character.

Paul Lieberstein, an executive producer who also plays HR representative Toby on "The Office," told the AP: "Right now, we're still talking about a lot of scenarios."