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Fellow "Saturday Night Live" alum Jon Lovitz will fill the void on "NewsRadio" left by the late Phil Hartman

It's official: Jon Lovitz to join 'NewsRadio' cast

Web posted on: Monday, July 06, 1998 3:59:47 PM

HOLLYWOOD (Reuters) -- Actor-comedian Jon Lovitz will join the cast of the NBC show "NewsRadio" next season in an attempt to get the show back on track after the death in May of cast member Phil Hartman.

As former "Saturday Night Live" colleagues, Lovitz and Hartman were close friends, and Lovitz had appeared as a guest on "NewsRadio."

Lovitz for weeks weighed the decision on whether to join the cast full-time before deciding Friday to move forward with the deal.

"I'm doing this for Phil," Lovitz said. "There's nothing more to say."

Lovitz series?

Lovitz also has signed an exclusive deal with "NewsRadio" production company Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, where he's expected to develop his own series.

There was no question Lovitz wanted to work on a network comedy. Earlier this year, he starred in his own ABC pilot, which didn't get picked up for a series.

Lovitz also was the voice of the former ABC/Fox series "The Critic," and he's guest-starred in sitcoms such as "Friends," "Seinfeld" and "Married ... With Children."

His film credits include "City Slickers II," "A League of Their Own" and "Three Amigos."

Lovitz's character, still being developed, could be an old friend of Bill McNeal, the self-indulgent news anchor Hartman played

'An old friend'

"He's an old friend of mine and I think we can do a wonderful show with him," said Brad Grey, chairman of Brillstein-Grey.

"While we all regret the circumstances from which this was born, Jon is one of the funniest people I've had the privilege of working with, and we look forward to his joining 'News Radio.'"

Hartman was found shot to death in his Los Angeles home on May 28 in what police said was a murder-suicide committed by his wife, Brynn.

Lovitz's new character

Entering its fifth season on NBC this fall, "NewsRadio" is a situation comedy about the day-to-day running of an all-news radio station in New York City.

Details of Lovitz's character have yet to be finalized, but he's expected to work in the newsroom, and he may play an old friend of station owner Jimmy, or a fired TV anchorman.

He'll also likely play an old friend of Bill McNeal, the self-indulgent news anchor played by Hartman.

"NewsRadio" producers are considering having Hartman's character pass away to explain his abscence.

Copyright 1998 Variety/Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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