Dan Snierson
September 13, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Take a look at the credits on returning series, and one thing is blatantly clear: There’s more new blood on veteran shows than in the E.R. ”You get into the third, fourth, and fifth season of a series and, boy, you’ve pretty much done everything there is to do with any given character,” says Murder One and NYPD Blue executive producer Steven Bochco. ”Bringing in new characters gives you fresh story opportunities.” Spice will be added via short-term gigs from a few old-school stars, too: Carol Burnett will guest-star as Jamie’s Mad About You mother, and former teen-movie bimbo Connie Stevens is set to play Pamela Lee’s mom on Baywatch. If the bathing suit fits…

Murphy Brown

Now that Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud) has abandoned FYI, the big question is, Who’s the boss? The season premiere will answer that with one of the year’s savviest casting moves: Lily Tomlin as Kay Carter-Shepley, a former game-show producer and Murphy’s new sharp-as-a-Ginsu opponent. ”Kay can threaten people with their lives,” muses Brown star Candice Bergen. ”At first you think she’s kidding, but then you realize there’s actually a possibility she might take them.” So what did it take for the Laugh-In grad to return to a weekly television series? A hard sell from the part-time Sprint spokeswoman, says Tomlin: ”Candice started faxing me cute stuff like, ‘What can I give you to come on the show? Do you have a long-distance carrier?”’

Law & Order

Goodbye, Claire Kincaid (Jill Hennessy), hello, Jamie Ross (Carey Lowell), the new assistant DA/divorced mom who won’t make life any easier for Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston). ”It’s not a mentor-student relationship with Jack, which it might have been with Jill’s character,” says Lowell, an ex-Bond beauty (License to Kill) and one-time finalist for Sherry Stringfield’s ER role. ”She’ll be more of a sparring partner.” Not to mention a head-turner. Says exec producer Dick Wolf: ”I asked one of the producers on Carey’s first day, ‘How do you think it’s working?’ and he said, ‘I think she got seven proposals on the way to the set.”’


The scrappy cop series ratchets up the squad-room tension by introducing a babe — er, no-nonsense medical examiner — named Julianna Cox (Swimming With Sharks‘ Michelle Forbes). ”Julianna has her own way of doing things,” says exec producer Tom Fontana. ”She’s a very unsettling spirit on the show.” Any chance of a romance with one of the detectives? ”On Homicide,” jokes Fontana, ”she’d probably fall in love with a stiff.”

Chicago Hope

Mark Harmon trades in last year’s Charlie Grace spyglass for a scalpel as hotshot orthopedic surgeon Jack McNeil, who attracts Dr. Austin (Christine Lahti) and repels Dr. Shutt (Adam Arkin). Exec producer John Tinker wanted Harmon because ”he’s a guy who’s immensely attractive to men, and immensely attractive to women.” That’s right — he cuts both ways. Also scrubbing in: Rocky Carroll (Roc) as take-charge chief of trauma Keith Wilkes, who will create conflict of his own. ”Keith acts, and worries about the consequences later,” teases Tinker. ”He operates on gut instinct.” We hope not literally.

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