Thesp to join series as Duchovny exits

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” thesp Robert Patrick has landed one of the most coveted roles in TV, inking a multiyear deal to play Gillian Anderson’s new partner on “The X-Files.”

Patrick will join the cast of the Fox drama at the start of next season, stepping in as star David Duchovny dramatically cuts back his involvement in the series. News of the deal was first reported Thursday morning by Variety.com; Fox Entertainment topper Gail Berman officially announced the casting later in the day.

Duchovny will appear in just over half of the 20 “X” segs skedded to be produced next season, with most of his screen time coming in the first half of the season. Patrick will appear in all episodes and will get third billing in the opening credits (behind Duchovny and Anderson).

“X” creator and exec producer Chris Carter said Patrick’s character, FBI agent John Doggett, will be the virtual mirror opposite of Duchovny’s alien-hunting, conspiracy-loving Fox Mulder.

“We thought about what we wanted to do, and we decided we didn’t want to add something to the show we already had,” Carter said in an interview with Daily Variety. “This guy is the consummate insider. He’s a member of the FBI fraternity, a textbook guy.”

Patrick will team up with Scully to help track down the abducted Agent Mulder. While neither Carter, Duchovny nor Anderson are signed to work on “X” past the 2000-01 season, Carter hinted that Patrick’s arrival could help extend “X” beyond its eighth season. “This is a great opportunity to go on,” he said.

Still a Fox fixture

While ratings for “X-Files” have slipped in recent years, the supernatural skein is still one of the net’s tentpole series, serving as a vital anchor to Fox’s Sunday sked. Convincing Carter to return for another year and Duchovny to come back for a half-season were major coups for Fox Entertainment Television Group topper Sandy Grushow.

In other “X”-related news, Carter said he believes Fox execs are considering a plan to launch the “X” spinoff “The Lone Gunmen” in “X’s” 9 p.m. Sunday slot next spring. The one hitch: Fox has already said the skein will bow on Thursday nights starting in January.

A Fox rep said the net has yet to finalize its midseason plans.

100 thesps considered

More than 100 actors were considered to help fill the gap soon to be left by Duchovny’s departure, though only 10 were serious contenders, according to Carter. Patrick’s deal was finalized Wednesday.

Thesp had been signed to appear in the unsold Paramount Network Television pilot “L.A. Sheriff’s Homicide,” but the studio agreed to release him from his contractual obligations so he could accept Carter’s “X” offer.

In addition to his “T2″ role, Patrick appeared in the James Mangold-helmed “Copland” and 1998′s “The Faculty.” He also had a recurring guest role on HBO’s “The Sopranos.”

Patrick’s upcoming feature credits include the Miramax pic “Texas Rangers” and the Matt Damon starrer “All the Pretty Horses.”

Deal was brokered by UTA and Hyler Management.

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