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2001 TV pilots flying with familiar faces

Tone Loc, 'Simpsons' regular Smith join pilot posse

Some familiar TV vets are plotting their small-screen returns: Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Adam Arkin, Kellie Martin, Fred Willard and Julia Sweeney all have inked for major roles in fall 2001 pilots.

Also joining the pilot brigade: Rapper Tone Loc and “The Simpsons” regular Yeardley Smith.

Thiessen will star in NBC’s untitled comedy pilot from scribe Steve Koren (“Seinfeld”) and NBC Studios. She’ll play a grad student/research assistant who helps the male character at the center of the show with his thesis, which revolves around his troubles with women. Male lead hasn’t yet been cast.

Thesp had signed last fall to star in a put commitment for ABC titled “Something About Tiffani” (Daily Variety, Nov. 2), but the net eventually passed on that project.

Besides “90210,” the WMA-repped Thiessen was a regular on the long-running teen laffer “Saved by the Bell.” She also appeared in features such as “Ladies Man” and telepics including “She Fought Alone.”

Arkin gets ‘Degree’

As for Arkin, he has joined the Fox drama pilot “The Third Degree” as Konigsberg, an ex-cop-turned-professor at the project’s criminology academy. Besides “Chicago Hope,” Arkin’s credits include the films “Hanging Up” and “Halloween: H20.”

Thesp Maggie Lawson (“Pleasantville”) also has been added to the Studios USA pilot, which will be exec produced by Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin. Lawson’s other credits include a guest stint on “Party of Five.”

Willard (“Best of Show”) and Sweeney (“Saturday Night Live”) have signed on to “Maybe I’m Adopted,” a Warner Bros. TV laffer pilot for the WB Network. Pair will play the parents of the 15-year-old girl at the center of the family comedy.

Martin in ‘Kitchen’

As for Martin (“ER”), thesp has joined Jeffrey Tambor in the DreamWorks/Touchstone comedy “Man of the Kitchen.” Larry Joe Campbell (“The Trouble With Normal”) also has signed on for the Michael Borkow-penned laffer, which is being shot for ABC.

Also at the Alphabet web, Tone Loc will play a government agent in Warner Bros. TV’s “Thieves,” which stars John Stamos. It would be his first regular series role in a live-action project.

Over at NBC, Smith is set to play a talent agent in WBTV’s “Last Dance,” from exec producer Chuck Lorre. Michael Rispoli (“The Sopranos,” “While You Were Sleeping”) will play a cop.

Show revolves around the romance between an actress (Paget Brewster) and a cop (David Keith).

In other casting news, newcomers Kevin Hart, Amy Poehler and January Jones have been cast in “North Hollywood,” the DreamWorks Television laffer pilot for ABC from exec producer Judd Apatow.

KFI talker Phil Hendrie and thesp Robyn Peterson also will appear in the pilot, which was packaged by UTA.

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