Celebrity TV fill-ins: From Caitlyn Jenner to Megan Fox
TV shows have found many different ways over the years to work around the pregnancy of their actresses. Sometimes, they do lots of episodes where their characters are always sitting behind a desk, or holding a giant purse, or (in a memorable "Cheers" episode when Shelley Long was pregnant) trapped in an air conditioning duct. "The X-Files" had Scully get abducted, while "Frasier" simply suggested that Daphne had just put on a lot of weight.
"New Girl" is taking a multi-pronged approach for its next season. The first five episodes were filmed at the end of production for last season, and to allow the show to resume production while Zoey Deschanel is on maternity leave, Jess will be sequestered on jury duty for a few episodes. And on top of that, the loft will temporarily get a new roommate, played by...
... Megan Fox?
Per the press release, "Fox will play 'Reagan,' a gorgeous, straight-shooting pharmaceutical sales rep who comes to town on business and shakes things up in the loft when she rents out Jess' (series star Zooey Deschanel) room while she is sequestered on jury duty. Fox will first appear in the sixth episode of the upcoming season, scheduled to premiere in January 2016."
Fox has done some promising comedy work in "This Is 40" and "Friends with Kids" (she also wasn't bad essentially playing herself in an episode of TBS' short-lived "Wedding Band," opposite then-husband Brian Austin Green), and she'll definitely provide a different energy from Deschanel for a few weeks. (I assume she'll be there to cause Schmidt/Cece tension, but I'm kind of hoping most or all of her scenes are with Winston.)
Fox also fits a small but memorable TV tradition of having celebrities fill in for actors temporarily sidelined from their series for one reason or another. (This is not to be confused with shows that employ less-famous actors as fill-ins, like the brief but unfortunate Coy and Vance period of "Dukes of Hazzard.") Some others:
* When Jesse Martin had to leave a "Law & Order" season early to film the "Rent" movie, Michael Imperioli came in for four episodes as Detective Nick Falco, who filled in for Ed Green while Ed recovered from being shot.
* Also in the "L&O" franchise, Connie Nielsen did a half dozen episodes on "SVU" as Danish immigrant detective Dani Beck, filling in while Mariska Hargitay was out on maternity leave.
* This isn't quite the same thing, but to help ease the transition out of the Steve Carell era, Will Ferrell appeared in four episodes as DeAngelo Vickers, who was meant to be Michael Scott's replacement. He overlapped with Carell for a few weeks, and DeAngelo was severely injured in the first episode after Michael was gone, never to be seen again.
* In the second season of "Wiseguy," Ken Wahl broke his ankle on set. The show briefly wrote him out by having a loanshark beat up Vinnie, and brought in Anthony Denison as retired agent John Henry Raglin.
* In the fifth season of "CHiPs," Erik Estrada temporarily went on strike in a monetary dispute. Producers recruited Caitlyn Jenner (then known as Bruce) to play Officer Steve McLeish, who rode alongside Larry Wilcox's Jon Baker for a handful of episodes until Estrada returned.
Anybody else have memories of famous TV fill-ins?