Paul Schneider leaving NBC's Parks and Recreation; Rob Lowe, Adam Scott to appear in series

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Monday, March 15, 2010

The NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation will experience a shake-up in its cast as Paul Schneider, a regular cast member with the critically acclaimed series, will depart at the end of this season.

Officials with the show have also announced this month that Rob Lowe will make an extended guest appearance on the series, and Adam Scott will join as a regular cast member.

Michael Schur, who co-created Parks and Recreation along with The Office creator Greg Daniels, said Schneider is expected to make guest appearances in the third season.

Schneider plays Mark Brendanawicz, a jaded city planner who started in the first season as a love interest for the show's protagonist Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the deputy director of a small town Indiana town. Currently, Schneider's character is dating Rashida Jones's character, Ann Perkins.

Schneider is leaving the show to focus on his movie career, following the success of such independent films as Bright Star. Schur added when the character was originally conceived, it was anticipated he would appear infrequently in Parks and Recreation, switching between his city planner job and work in the private sector.

"It's not something you usually do on TV shows but we thought it was a good way to illustrate both the positive and negative aspects of working for a government," Schur told the Los Angeles Times. "It was one of the first things we talked about with him."

Schur added, "He's going to remain in the world of the show in a way that not only allows but hopefully demands that he'll reenter it. He's not going to be killed in some weird accident."

Actor Rob Lowe is to make a string of guest appearances in Parks and Recreation, starting in May with the final two episodes of the current season.

Lowe and Scott are expected to join the show in May, during the final two episodes of the season. Schur has indicated they will both play characters coming in from outside Pawnee to help the town deal with budget problems.

Lowe, fresh off his departure from the ABC drama series Brothers & Sisters, will continue a string of guest appearances into the third season.

Adam Scott would leave his regular role on the Starz comedy series Party Down to join the permanent cast of Parks and Recreation.

"Adam is one of the funniest and most versatile performers around," Schur told Variety magazine. "When we designed the character he is going to play, we used him as the dream scenario of who we could get."

Parks and Recreation received mixed to negative reviews during its first season, with detractors claiming it was too similar to The Office, and that Leslie Knope too closely resembled that show's protagonist Michael Scott), played by Steve Carell.

But The second season, despite lagging in the Nielsen ratings, has been a critical success, with several commentators declaring it a major improvement over the first season and one of the best comedies currently on television.