Eye focuses on Bader for 'Universe,' UPN beckons Vidan

William Shatner will guest star where no 1960s pop culture icon has guest starred before: ABC’s “The Practice.”

Shatner is set to star in four of the show’s final six episodes as Danny Crane, the chief partner of a rival law firm. David E. Kelley drama has also cast Australian thesp Vince Colosimo (“Lantana”) as Shatner’s junior partner in the firm.

Meanwhile, casting directors kept busy Thursday populating pilots. New hires include Diedrich Bader (“Drew Carey Show”), who’s joined CBS’ “Center of the Universe”; Christina Vidal (“Freaky Friday”), new to UPN’s “Beck and Call”; and Ellen Pompeo (“Old School”), who has been added to ABC’s Shonda Rhimes drama.

“Star Trek” vet Shatner continues to keep busy, recently appearing in Hallmark Channel telepic “A Carol Christmas” and resuming his gig as pitchman for Priceline.com.

Thesp’s recent feature appearances include “Showtime” and “Miss Congeniality.”

Shatner’s character will play a key part in “The Practice’s” season-closing story arc. His character, a power-hungry, eccentric legal legend, goes head-to-head with the show’s Young, Frutt & Berluti firm. Kelley has managed to revitalize the show’s performance this season by using stunt castings such as Sharon Stone.

Kelley has options to bring Shatner and Colosimo back for additional episodes as well.

As for pilot castings, Bader will star opposite John Goodman and Jean Smart in “Center of the Universe.” He’ll play Tommy, Goodman’s eccentric brother.

Laffer, from Warner Bros. TV, CBS Prods. and the Tannenbaum Co., revolves around a family in Chicago. Bader, who can be seen in “Eurotrip,” spent nine seasons as Oswald on “Drew Carey.”

Vidal segues to “Beck and Call” from ABC’s short-lived “10-8,” where she was a regular. Thesp’s credits also include “Chasing Papi.”

“Beck and Call,” from Warner Bros. TV and Shephard-Robin, revolves around the New York fashion world.

Pompeo joins T.R. Knight on ABC’s untitled Shonda Rhimes drama. Touchstone pilot follows residents in a San Francisco surgical program.

Thesp’s other credits include “Daredevil” and a guest stint on “Friends.”

Also in casting news, Samaire Armstrong (“The OC”) has been cast in ABC’s drama pilot “Gramercy Park.”

Armstrong, whose other credits include “Not Another Teen Movie,” plays Katja, a struggling actress who winds up working as a nanny for an upper-crust family in the Warner Bros. TV project.

And Constance Zimmer (“Good Morning Miami”) has been added to the CBS pilot “Cooking Lessons.” Warner Bros. TV drama revolves around a food columnist; Zimmer will play her friend Georgia.

On the directing front, Jeff Melman (“Oliver Beene”) has agreed to helm Fox’s untitled Method Man/Redman pilot, which comes from Regency TV and 20th Century Fox TV.

(Jill Feiwell and Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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