Sherry Stringfield, an original cast member of “ER” who departed after the show’s first three seasons, has made a deal to return for the drama’s next three seasons.
That Stringfield will reprise her role as Dr. Susan Lewis is as much a surprise as her decision to leave the show following her third season. Stringfield, who got Emmy nominations for her three seasons, ankled long before Warner Bros. extracted a record $13 million an episode from NBC, and then made all of her original cast mates among the highest paid dramatic TV stars of all time (with the exception of George Clooney). Stringfield joined “ER” after starring in the first season of the breakout drama “NYPD Blue” but eventually tired of the media circus that followed TV’s top-rated drama.
Executive producer John Wells has three more seasons to fill on the show’s extension NBC extension deal. He and WB recently locked Noah Wyle into a lucrative three season extension that will make his Dr. John Carter character the drama’s centerpiece after Anthony Edwards leaves at the end of next season. Eriq La Salle, who’s preparing to direct, produce and star in the feature “Crazy As Hell,” said he hasn’t yet decided whether to negotiate an extension.
Given the UTA-repped Stringfield’s change of heart, Wells and WB are guaranteed at least two cast members tied to the show’s launch. Stringfield will have one season with Edwards, with whom she’d generated romantic sparks before her character left to go home to Phoenix. Edwards’ Dr. Mark Greene character has married Alex Kingston’s Dr. Elizabeth Corday, so there will be interesting dramatic reunion potential.
“Sherry was an integral member of the ‘ER’ cast for the first three seasons,” said Wells. “We are delighted to welcome her back as a series regular and can’t wait to work with her again.”
Since Stringfield left behind that steady $70,000 an episode paycheck and relocated to New York, she has done voiceover work, taught acting at her alma mater SUNY Purchase and acted in indie films.
PEYTON PLACED IN “KINGS” REDO: Harley Peyton, the “Twin Peaks” alum who most recently scripted the Barry Levinson-directed “Bandits,” has been brought aboard by DreamWorks and producer David Permut to adapt the English language remake of the French comedy “Kings for Day.” Peyton, whose credits also include “Less Than Zero” and “Heaven’s Prisoners,” will draft a version of the 1997 comedy about two brothers who enjoy 15 minutes of fame when they impersonate a director and producer at a European film festival. The fun ends when the real guys show up. Ludi Boeken and Nicolas Velle are producing with Permut; Francois Velle and Steve Longi will coproduce.
ANOTHER AUSSIE TO WATCH: Gersh Agency’s Larry Taube has signed Kick Gurry, the young Australian actor who toplined “Looking for Alibrandi,” which won the AFI for Best Picture, and then did “Buffalo Soldiers” with Joaquin Phoenix and Ed Harris. Gurry, who continues to be managed by Steve Himber, has just begun work in “Garage Days,” the Alex Proyas-directed comedy now shooting in Australia. Described as “The Full Monty” meets “The Commitments,” the story of an Aussie garage band will be distribbed by Fox Searchlight.
“PRODUCERS'” SON TRIES SCREENWRITING: It’s a daunting task to enter showbiz when your mother is Mrs. Robinson and your dad just set a Tony Awards record for cumulative acceptance speech time. But that’s the goal of Max Brooks, son of Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks, who has made his first script sale in a deal with Dimension Films coheads Andrew Rona and Brad Weston for “More Than Meets the Eye.” Sold as a pitch, “Eye” is a fantasy about kids who become their favorite action figure toys. “It’s based on a story I wrote in high school in 1988,” said Brooks, 29, who attended film school at American University, but sponged plenty of wisdom from his parents. “It was kind of hard to avoid the business in my household.” The dozen Tony Awards won by Brooks’ “The Producers” makes his dad’s legacy a tough act to follow, so the younger Brooks has decided not to. “I’ve no desire to become the next king of Jewish immigrant comics, but I am so proud of my old man,” Brooks said. Dimension’s Michael Helfant brokered the deal with Brooks’s reps at the Irv Schechter Co.