'The Office' Season 7: Holly's back ... in a big way

amy-ryan2-the-office-320.jpgWith this being Steve Carell's last season on "The Office," the show couldn't very well get away with not bringing back Michael Scott's true love, Holly Flax.

NBC confirmed on Thursday (July 15) that Amy Ryan will return this season as Holly -- and writer/executive producer/cast member Paul Lieberstein says she'll be making much more than just a token appearance.

Lieberstein tells Zap2it that Ryan will appear in a whopping eight episodes. That's right: you'll get to see the Holly-Michael magic for a full third of the season.

Read on for more from Lieberstein about Holly's return, Andy's Scranton stage debut, Dwight Schrute, landlord and more (spoilers ahoy!).

The groundwork for Holly's return was laid in last season's finale, when Michael asked Sabre CEO Jo ( Kathy Bates) if she could bring Holly back. The show was preparing for it behind the scenes as well; Lieberstein says the producers were already talking to Ryan when they were writing the finale.

Season 7 will find Jo making good on her promise to Michael, but "Holly is not happy at all about coming back to Scranton." She's built a pretty good life with boyfriend A.J. ( Rob Huebel -- Lieberstein isn't sure yet if he'll return as well) and doesn't want to leave it.

As for Michael's departure from Dunder Mifflin, Lieberstein says he doesn't want Carell to leave the show, but at the same time he thinks it presents a chance for "The Office" to refresh itself. "To actually get to write someone out who's a main character, it's a cool opportunity. Not that I want Steve to leave, but in the long run" it could benefit the series, he says.

"No one wants to see him go. We still hope he changes his mind," Lieberstein says of Carell. "But we are forced to imagine 'The Office' without him."

Lieberstein also teased a few stories from the first half of the season. Among them:

- Dwight's ( Rainn Wilson) efforts to buy the building that houses Dunder Mifflin were successful, which Lieberstein says will result in the salesman/beet farmer becoming overworked and open up new avenues for Jim (John Krasinski) to pull pranks.

- Bates will return as Jo in the season premiere, but she's also starring in NBC's midseason series "Harry's Law," so Lieberstein isn't sure if she'll be able to do more than that.

- Jo's son (who hasn't been cast yet) will come to Dunder Mifflin as part of a series of "low-level" jobs he's doing at various units of Sabre.

- Andy ( Ed Helms) will perform in a community theater production. "We think it will be 'Sweeney Todd,'" Lieberstein says.

- We'll let Lieberstein describe the last one himself: "Michael gets a cold sore, and he finds out that's [a form of] herpes, so he feels the need to call every woman he's ever been with and inform them."

"The Office" season premiere is scheduled for Sept. 23.

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Photo credit: NBC