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PARDON THEIR DUST WHEN SHOWS STAY, ACTORS COME AND GO.

Byline: David Kronke Television Critic

If it ain't broke, fix it anyway - or so must go the thinking behind these changes to returning series.

SUNDAY

Francis (Christopher Kennedy Masterson) leaves Alaska in ``Malcolm in the Middle,'' landing at a dude ranch run by a German couple played by Kenneth Mars and Meagan Fay.

Lena Olin joins the cast of ``Alias'' as Sydney's long-thought-dead but certainly not-to-be-messed-with mom, Irina Derevko.

Ron Livingston bolted ``The Practice'' late last season; Jessica Capshaw enters as an incoming attorney at the firm.

On ``Becker,'' Terry Farrell is gone as grumpy Ted Danson gets a girlfriend (Nancy Travis), which might make him less grouchy, but his new, lousy time slot will no doubt restore his moodiness.

MONDAY

Lots of faculty turnover over at ``Boston Public.'' Jessalyn Gilsig (who, in season one, was the putative star) and Rashida Jones are history - not the class, just history - while Jon Abrahams and Old Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre join the staff at Winslow High. Cara DeLizia, who played a troublemaking student in a recurring role last season, becomes a regular as the series expects to shift its focus from the teachers to the students.

On ``Crossing Jordan,'' Lorraine Toussaint (Lifetime's ``Any Day Now'') joins the fun as an aggressive coroner who lives just to annoy medical examiner Jordan Cavanaugh (Jill Hennessy), who lives just to annoy us.

Heartthrob Barry Watson leaves the cast of ``7th Heaven'' to join its writing staff (he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease), and he'll be scribbling about new characters played by Ashlee Simpson (younger sister of singer Jessica), who'll play a potential love interest for Simon (David Gallagher, who is promised more screen time), and Rachel Blanchard (``Road Trip''), who'll play a cop. A sexy one, no doubt.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Christa Miller is bolting ``The Drew Carey Show'' after two episodes. Cynthia Watros (``Titus'') will replace her as the show's requisite injection of pulchritude, playing a longtime pal of Drew's whom he never seemed to have mentioned in any of the previous seven seasons. The show also promises to call a moratorium on the gimmicky episodes.

Nicole Sullivan, the dog walker in the realm of ``The King of Queens,'' becomes a regular.

TUESDAY

With Teri (Leslie Hope) dead, Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) will need a new romantic interest on ``24,'' so enter Sarah Wynter, playing the sister of a woman marrying a suspicious sort. Sarah Clarke (who played Nina the whack-happy mole) and Xander Berkeley (Mason), who met and got engaged while working on the show, switch roles: She'll be in a recurring role; he'll be a regular.

Tommy Chong takes a powder from ``That '70s Show.''

Richard Riehle has served his time on ``Grounded for Life'' and will no longer be a regular cast member.

``Just Shoot Me'' hasn't been put out of its misery just yet - Rena Sofer joins the cast as a fashion consultant.

D.B. Woodside joins ``Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' as the new principal of Sunnydale High, where Buffy (Sarah Michelle Prinze, er, Gellar) takes a job.

WEDNESDAY

Fred Thompson, former Tennessee senator and occasional actor, replaces Diane Wiest as the district attorney on ``Law & Order.''

After playing a recurring role last season where she and Josh (Bradley Whitford) circled and smooched one another, Mary-Louise Parker joins ``The West Wing'' cast full time, joined by Lily Tomlin, who plays President Bartlett's new secretary.

Daryl ``Chill'' Mitchell (``Veronica's Closet'' and ``The John Larroquette Show'') was recently in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down, but that hasn't prevented him from joining the cast of ``Ed'' as the new supervising manager of the Stuckeybowl.

Rick Hoffman (``Philly,'' ``The $treet,'' ``Blood Work'') will have a recurring role on ``The Bernie Mac Show'' as the comic's manager, Jerry Best.

Sebastian Spence (``First Wave'') joins ``Dawson's Creek'' as a professor with the proverbial dark secret. Oliver Hudson (Goldie Hawn's son, who starred in the very short-lived ``My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star,'' enters the fray as a love interest for Joey (Katie Holmes).

THURSDAY

Anthony Edwards is gone, and Noah Wyle steps up to leading-man status, but you knew that already. What you may not have known is that Leslie Bibb (``Popular'') will play a medical student caught up in the hectic world of ``ER,'' while Sally Field will return as Abby Lockhart's (Maura Tierney) mother in a four-episode arc in November.

FRIDAY

``Sabrina the Teenage Witch'' gets a complete makeover - only Melissa Joan Hart is the same (well, she and that mangy cat). Gone are Caroline Rhea (who leaves for the ignominy of afternoon television) and Beth Broderick, as Sabrina takes a job at a hip music magazine, run by Diana- Maria Riva (``Philly'') and staffed by Andrew Walker (``Maybe It's Me''), Bumper Robinson (``Behind Enemy Lines'') and John Ducey (``Deep Impact''). Demographically predictable music acts will guest on the show. Meanwhile, Sabrina also has new roommates - Soleil Moon Frye (``Punky Brewster'') and Elisa Donovan (``Clueless'').

George Newbern (``Father of the Bride''), who played Dr. Syd's (Melina Kanakaredes) boyfriend last season on ``Providence,'' this year becomes a regular, so he must be doing something right.

SATURDAY

Gil Bellows, who apparently suffers from David Caruso syndrome (he previously exited early from ``Ally McBeal''), now bolts from ``The Agency,'' replaced by Jason O'Mara (``Band of Brothers''), who plays a former paramilitary officer and operations expert.

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Watson: Behind ``7th'' scenes
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 8, 2002
Words:907
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