Josh Wolk
April 16, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Is that Geri Jewell, Blair’s comedian cousin with cerebral palsy from The Facts of Life, playing the abused maid Jewel on HBO’s rough Western Deadwood? You bet your Tootie! The ”fortysomething” Jewell was cast by the show’s creator, David Milch, when he spotted her at a Santa Monica pharmacy in 2002. (She was getting medication for chronic pain in her neck, which she broke in 1999.) Unsolicited, he asked her, ”I haven’t seen you on TV lately. Do you want to do a series?” Remembers Jewell, ”I looked at the ceiling and said, ‘God, you have a really quirky sense of humor. I’m standing here with CP and a broken neck, and David Milch wants me to ride a horse.”’ With her Deadwood gig extended through next season and her recurring role on The Young and the Restless as the inspirational friend of the disfigured Brittany, Jewell — who has been working as a comedian and corporate trainer — has already gotten more airtime than her dozen or so Life appearances from ’80 to ’84. ”Cousin Geri will forever be associated with me,” she says. ”I’m everybody’s cousin.”

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