Noah Wyle's been on ''ER'' longer than anyone, but even he has to go sometime. TV Guide reports that, after nine years, Wyle will be absent from the show this fall. Fortunately for fans, his departure is only temporary. ''He will be in the first two episodes,'' a show spokesperson tells TV Guide, ''and then there will be [an] absence.''
Wyle became a dad last November, and he reportedly asked producers for several weeks off this fall to spend more time with wife Tracy and new son Owen. ''I don’t want to miss one thing about his growing up, his adolescence, his learning to walk,'' Wyle told E! Online in May. A paternity recess ''is something he has discussed with the producers for some time,'' his publicist, Eddie Michaels, tells TV Guide. ''[But] he's not leaving.''
Though Wyle may be on sabbatical as late as November, his character, Dr. John Carter, has become central to the show, since Wyle is the only actor who's been with the medical drama since it began in 1994. He's contractually bound to the show through the end of the 2003-04 season, and he earns a reported $400,000 per episode, making him one of TV's highest-paid actors. Still, he's just one part of a large ensemble, which will grow this fall to include ''Bend It Like Beckham'' star Parminder Nagra. ''We have a big cast,'' executive producer Scott Gemmill tells TV Guide, ''and it's not like he's gone away for forever.''