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Carey sets virtual visit

Cast to spend two minutes in Sim City

Drew Carey will make a virtual visit to Sim City during the March 28 episode of “The Drew Carey Show.”

A two-minute sequence will transform Drew and his co-stars into residents of the virtual metropolis in the popular computer game.

Electronic Arts-owned Maxis created the segment for the show after Carey, an avid “Sims” fan, referenced the game and used dialogue boxes (called Sim glyphs) in the season premiere last year.

The stunt could help propel the game in which players determine the activities of Sims characters into its own TV series. Pet Fly Prods. (“The Flash,” “The Sentinel” and “Viper”) is working with Maxis and Columbia TriStar Television on a potential cable series for next year.

“Drew spends all day playing ‘The Sims,’ when he’s not rehearsing,” said Bruce Helford, creator and exec producer of “The Drew Carey Show.” “Electronic Arts has done a wonderful job of putting this all together. We’d do it again, as it fits in our show.”

“House Party” ($29.95, available March 28), the latest expansion pack for “The Sims” ($39.95), which has sold more than 3 million units worldwide in its first year, features Carey as a bonus nonplayable Sim character who shows up as a reward. For the game Carey recorded “Simlish,” the name given to the indecipherable dialogue that the Sims speak.

A new Sims Online version of the game is being planned for launch in February that would require the purchase of software to be played through the Web site EA.com.

Series being developed is a live-action sitcom about a normal family, called the McNallys, that move into Sim City, said Danny Bilson, VP of intellectual properties for EA, and executive producer and writer of the planned show.

The ’50s-style program would have a host named Bill Simmons. Every week a new character created by a real-life consumer at Sims Online would be introduced along with the creator, who would be flown in. The family and host will migrate online, interacting with real players at EA.com.

Pet Fly will work with Electronic Arts to cross-promote Sims Online and “The Sims” TV show.

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