Long joins pilot; Alley, Carradine looking at laffers

Bottom’s up for “Cheers” barmaids Kirstie Alley and Shelley Long, who both may be returning to the small screen next season.

Alley, most recently seen in a series of commercials for Pier 1 Imports, is in final negotiations to play Ricki Lake’s mother in CBS’ untitled Staley/Long laffer. Long, meanwhile, has joined the cast of NBC’s untitled sitcom pilot from Marsh McCall.

Alley will play Margo in the Eye sitcom, which comes from Paramount Network TV.

Rob Long and Dan Staley are behind the pilot, which revolves around a single young mother (Lake) who runs a bar with her mother.

Besides her stint as Rebecca Howe on “Cheers,” Alley starred as the lead in NBC’s “Veronica’s Closet.” More recently, she appeared in the feature “Drop Dead Gorgeous” and the Eye telepic “Family Sins.”

Then there’s Long — perhaps still best known for her turn as Diane Chambers on “Cheers” — who’s taking over the role on the McCall project previously assigned to Beverly D’Angelo, who has departed the show. She’ll star opposite thesps Tom Conti, Jamie Denbo, Greg Pitts and Mitch Rouse.

Warner Bros. TV laffer revolves around a young man who must contend with the divorce of his parents.

Long’s recent credits include guest stints on “8 Simple Rules” and “Strong Medicine” as well as the telepic “The Brady Bunch in the White House.” On the bigscreen, she appeared in “The Brady Bunch Movie” and its sequel as well as “Dr. T & the Women.”

Elsewhere, Holly Robinson-Peete, the star of the WB’s “Like Family,” is ready to join ABC’s untitled Earthquake pilot as Heaven.

The Touchstone/Tollin-Robbins project stars comedian Earthquake as a family man struggling to raise four kids with his wife. Les Firestein, David Himelfarb, Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola and David Goldman exec produce.

Robinson-Peete’s other credits include the laffers “For Your Love” and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.”

Also, Oscar winner Keith Carradine has joined the cast of the ABC comedy pilot “Savages” as Tom, a fireman and father of five teenage boys.

Project, from Universal Network TV and Icon, also stars Erik Von Detten, Andrew Eiden, Shaun Sipos and Mitchel Musso. Mike Scully, Julie Thacker-Scully, Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey exec produce.

Carradine won the Oscar for his song “I’m Easy” in the film “Nashville.” He most recently stars as Wild Bill Hickok in HBO’s “Deadwood” and served as narrator on the History Channel’s “Wild West Tech.”

Over at UPN, Pat Finn (“Ed”) has been added to the cast of the net’s untitled Dane Cook pilot. Finn will play Paul, brother and manager to Cook’s character, an aspiring comedian who suddenly loses it all.

The Sony Pictures Television sitcom pilot comes from exec producers Michael Curtis and Ken Mok. Finn’s credits also include “Hairy Tale.”

Meanwhile, Steve Hytner (“Eurotrip”) has joined the cast of NBC’s “D.O.T.S.”

Laffer, from Pariah TV, revolves around the world of meter maids. Rob Cohen and Gavin Polone exec produce. Hytner’s credits include “I’m With Her,” “Working” and “Birds of Prey.”

In other cast news, NBC confirmed Tuesday that “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing would not appear in the show’s final four episodes of this season.

According to the network, Messing — who is pregnant — has been advised by her doctors to stay off her feet. A network rep said production is “moving ahead,” and that the show will be written around Messing’s absence.

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