While introducing new shows like "Kingpin" and "A.U.S.A.," NBC will bank on some of their trusted hits as "Friends, "Law & Order" and "ER" to bring in the ratings. Guest spots on television shows have become a viable paycheck for some theatre actors.
"Law & Order," which already boasts theatrical stars Jerry Orbach (The Fantasticks), Jessie L. Martin (Rent) and S. Epatha Merkerson (the upcoming Fucking A) will feature guest stars Mandy Patinkin (Wild Party, Sunday in the Park with George) and Melissa Errico (Amour, My Fair Lady).
The show's two spinoff series "Special Victims Unit" — with series regular B.D. Wong (You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown) — and "Criminal Intent" welcome Judd Hirsch (I'm Not Rappaport), Viola Davis (King Hedley II), Hal Linden (Cabaret) and Mark Linn-Baker (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) among others.
Neuwirth, whose "Cheers" character Dr. Lilith Crane has made the transfer to its spinoff "Frasier," will pop back into the sitcom for an appearance. Sally Field (recently star of Broadway's The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?) will also reprise her portrayal as a manic-depressive mother on "ER" for two episodes.
Rent and "Chicago" movie star Taye Diggs will visit the town of Stuckeyville as he plays himself in a lucid dream on "Ed." Take Me Out' s Daniel Sunjata will also guest on the hour-long comedy filmed locally in northern New Jersey. Past guest stars have included Melissa Errico, Seussical's Kevin Chamberlain, Into the Woods' Gregg Edelman, Noises Off's Richard Easton, Man of La Mancha's Ernie Sabella, Oklahoma!'s Shuler Hensley and Copenhagen's Philip Bosco. Here are some more theatrical guest stars and their airdates by shows: (Check your local listings.)
Daniel Sunjata (Take Me Out) 2/5
Taye Diggs (Rent) 2/26
Bruce Weitz (Death of a Salesman) 2/6
Sally Field (The Goat 2/13, 2/20
Eli Wallach (The Price, The Rose Tattoo) 2/13
Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago, Fosse) 2/4
Millicent Martin (42nd Street, Side by Side by Sondheim) 2/4
Jeanne Tripplehorn (Three Sisters) 2/18
Felicity Huffman (Speed-The-Plow) 2/18
Jon Lovitz (The Dinner Party) 2/6
Paul Rudd (The Shape of Things) 2/20
Law & Order
Mandy Patinkin (Wild Party, Sunday in the Park with George) 2/12
Andrew McCathry (Side Man) 2/12
Melissa Errico (Amour, My Fair Lady) 2/26
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Hal Linden (Cabaret, The Gathering) 2/2
Judith Roberts (Present Laughter) 2/2
Amy Ryan (The Women, Uncle Vanya) 2/2
Christopher Evan Welch (The Crucible) 2/9
Mark Linn-Baker (A Year With Frog and Toad, Forum) 2/16
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Judd Hirsch (I'm Not Rappaport, Art) 1/31
Viola Davis (King Hedley II, Seven Guitars) 1/31
Tamara Tunie (Dreamgirls Benefit Concert) 1/31
Michael Learned (Gore Vidal's The Best Man) 2/21
[Series regular: Audra McDonald (Ragtime, Marie Christine)]
Steven Flynn (Sweet Sue) 2/21