ABC’s ‘Simple’ plan: Add TV fave and stir

Garner to appear in next four episodes

Vet thesp James Garner will join the cast of ABC’s “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” when the sitcom resumes production Monday.

Garner has signed on to appear in at least the next four episodes of “8 Simple Rules,” the first ones produced since star John Ritter died unexpectedly last month. He’ll play the father of family matriarch Cate Hennessy (Katey Sagal).

The hourlong return episode of “8 Simple Rules” will revolve around the Hennessy clan as they cope with the death of Ritter’s character, Paul. Seg is believed to take place at the Hennessy home soon after Paul’s funeral.

Garner’s character, recently separated from his wife, will stick around to give the family support and fill Paul’s void. Producers haven’t yet cast Garner’s wife, who’s not expected to appear in all four segs.

“8 Simple Rules,” from Touchstone TV, is expected to return early in November sweeps. Show airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

On TV Garner last appeared in the telepic “Roughing It” and as the chief justice on the short-lived Supreme Court drama “First Monday.” He also lent his voice as God in the animated laffer “God, the Devil and Bob” and appeared in several episodes of “Chicago Hope.”

Garner’s recent feature credits include “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” and “Space Cowboys.” He’s still best known for his long-running TV series “The Rockford Files” and “Maverick,” both of which spawned several TV movies.

“8 Simple Rules” also stars Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson and Martin Spanjers as the Hennessy children.

Garner is repped by Writers and Artists.

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