- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

Lachey bounces back

Nick Lachey is hoping to return to television this fall — with a script but without former squeeze Jessica Simpson.

He’s set to play a bachelor in a sitcom pilot for the newly formed CW network, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Lachey, who starred as part of MTV’s “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica” reality show, will play a single man living in Manhattan, in the comedy “She Said/He Said,” CW spokesman Paul McGuire told AP. Other roles are still being cast, and the pilot begins shooting next month, Mr. McGuire said.

Whether the show makes it onto CW’s schedule will be announced at the network’s first presentation to advertisers May 18 in New York. CW is a hybrid of the WB and UPN networks.

Marriage was the theme of Mr. Lachey’s MTV reality show, which featured him and his actress-singer bride. Miss Simpson filed for divorce in December, seeking dissolution of their three-year union.

Mr. Lachey, 32, first gained public notice as a member of the boy band 98 Degrees. Miss Simpson, 25, made her big-screen debut playing Daisy Duke in “The Dukes of Hazzard” movie.

In good ‘Company’

Two familiar faces have signed on for starring roles in “Company,” a new CBS pilot set in the District.

According to Reuters news agency, “JAG’s” Catherine Bell and Gary Cole (who recently appeared in a recurring role as as Vice President Bob Russell on the “West Wing”) will join the show about government agents who live in the same D.C. neighborhood.

The show’s cast already includes Blair Underwood and Sherry Stringfield.

Fox gets animated

It’s hardly a shock that we’ll be seeing more of Bart, Homer and company next season on Fox. “The Simpsons” remains a fan favorite even if its funniest days are well behind it.

But the network threw a programming curveball recently when it announced “King of the Hill” would also return next season, Reuters reports.

Fox has ordered two more seasons of “The Simpsons” — its 18th and 19th — and one more of “Hill,” its 11th season.

The two-year renewal for “The Simpsons,” the longest-running entertainment primetime series on the air, guarantees the show will run at least through the 2007-08 season, when it reaches its 400th episode.

“Hill,” which depicts the family life of Hank Hill and his Arlen, Texas, neighbors, recently returned after a two-month hiatus. Production resumed after new deals were sealed with principal behind-the-scenes talent, including executive producers John Altschuler and David Krinsky and co-creator/executive producer/voice actor Mike Judge.

Ruehl joining Reiser

Oscar-winner Mercedes Ruehl is close to signing on as a co-star in Paul Reiser’s untitled CBS comedy pilot about an ambitious guy who takes over the family car dealership in Queens, N.Y., Reuters reports.

Bobby Cannavale (“Will & Grace”) heads the cast. Already on board is Hector Elizondo. Former “Mad About You” star Mr. Reiser wrote the pilot and will serve as a producer.

Miss Ruehl, an Academy Award winner for her supporting role in the 1991 film “The Fisher King,” most recently starred in the TV movie “Mom at Sixteen” on Lifetime.

Compiled by Christian Toto from Web and wire reports.

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