Fox Actors Do Get Around

Posted: November 01, 1994

If the slacker-turned-superhero sidekick on "M.A.N.T.I.S." looks familiar, maybe it's because Heather Locklear almost castrated him with a carving knife last season on "Melrose Place."

And if the shadowy informant on "The X-Files" has a face that rings a chorus of bells, that's because he used to be Johnny Depp's old boss on "21 Jump Street."

Like most networks, Fox - seen locally on WTXF-TV (Channel 29) - repeatedly casts character actors on a range of shows. A drug dealer on one program can die a violent death and next season suddenly reappear - maybe with a beard - as a nightclub owner on another show. Such was the case of James Wilder, late of "Melrose Place," currently on "Models Inc."

How do you explain this deja voodoo?

"It says that either we are incredibly attentive to actors who give a good perfomance on one of our shows," said Bob Harbin, senior vice president of casting at Fox, "or, I guess you can say we only have five actors and we just use them over and over."

Network executives theorize that if viewers are willing to welcome actors into their home once, they're likely to appreciate a second visit.

"And since there are only four networks," Harbin said, "obviously there is going to be repetition."

Because Fox has a smaller lineup than the longer-established networks, their re-casting of characters is more obvious. Among those spit out by the revolving door:

* Jamie Foxx of "In Living Color" went on to play Crazy George, the loopy neighbor on "Roc."

* Kim Coles, originally part of the "In Living Color" cast, moved to ''Living Single" to become Synclaire James.

* James Wilder, a/k/a mysterious club owner Adam Louder on "Models Inc.," last season was the drug-trafficking ex-con Reed Carter on "Melrose Place." Reed was gunned down by Jo (Daphne Zuniga), but not before fathering her child.

* Jerry Hardin this season appears on "Melrose Place" as Reed's father Dennis Carter, who is fighting for custody of Jo's unborn child. Last season, he played Deep Throat, the high-level government informant killed off in the season finale of "The X-Files."

* Steven Williams, best known as Capt. Adam Fuller on "21 Jump Street," is back as Mr. X, the Deep Throat replacement on "The X-Files."

* Jason Priestly appeared on "21 Jump Street" before he was promoted to ''Beverly Hills 90210."

* Cheryl Pollak, formerly of "The Heights," joined "Melrose Place" yesterday as Susan Madsen, a college friend of Alison (Courtney Thorne-Smith) who will hook up with Billy (Andrew Shue).

* Carl Payne, better known as Cole on "Martin," was a regular in the doomed Nancy Walker series "True Colors."

* Tiffani-Amber Thiessen guest-starred on "Married . . . With Children" before her rebirth as Valerie Malone on "Beverly Hills 90210."

* Carl Lumbly played Laurence Fishburne's brother on "Tribeca" before he became the paraplegic superhero in "M.A.N.T.I.S."

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