It's going to happen: David Brent will meet up with Michael Scott before Steve Carell leaves The Office. Vulture has learned that Ricky Gervais shot a top-secret cameo that will appear in the cold open of the January 27 episode of the NBC series. "It's a little more than if you blink, you'll miss it, but if you don't set your TiVo right, you'll miss it," says Office show-runner Paul Lieberstein.
In a testament to just how secret this whole idea was, Lieberstein says Gervais and Carell shot their scene all the way back in September, when Gervais was in town for the Emmys. "Ricky had wanted to do something [with the U.S. Office] and it felt like we shouldn't go the whole series without them connecting," Lieberstein says. "But we had some issues to work out, like how does David Brent live in the world of Michael Scott." Producers knew it might be odd to link the universes of two office managers who both had documentary crews following them. In the end, the decision was made to shoot the scene away from Dunder-Mifflin. "It's outside of the office, and it's just the two of them interacting," he says. "It's just a little nod to Steve and his final year." To help maintain the cone of silence, Lieberstein adds, "We didn't even tell NBC at first. So [Ricky] worked for free. But don't print that — it might get him in trouble with the INS." In a perfect world, Lieberstein had hoped the cameo could air unannounced, much the way George Clooney popped up in one of the final episodes of ER. Alas, the age of the Internet might have made that impossible, and Lieberstein gave Vulture the thumbs-up to reveal the cameo Wednesday afternoon. This ought to make everyone forget about that whole Golden Globes thing.