ABC has found the man who would be Donald.

Justin Louis, currently of Lifetime’s drama “Missing” and a former star of the NBC sitcom “Hidden Hills,” has been cast as Donald Trump in ABC’s biopic about the real-estate mogul and star of “The Apprentice.” The network has also cast actors to play Ivana Trump, Marla Maples and Fred Trump, Donald’s father.

Katheryn Winnick, who appeared on Bravo’s “The It Factor” and had parts in “Two Weeks Notice” and “CSI: Miami,” will play Ivana Trump. Jennifer Baxter (“America’s Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story”) will play Maples, and “Cop Rock” and “Spenser: For Hire” alum Ron McLarty will play Fred Trump.

Louis joined the cast of “Missing” in its second season and will continue his role as John Pollack when the show returns for a third season in the summer. He starred opposite Paula Marshall in the short-lived “Hidden Hills” in 2002.

His other TV credits include “Trinity,” “Battery Park” and guest spots on “24” and “CSI.”

ABC hasn’t set an airdate for the Trump film, which is going by the title “Ambition.” Keith Curran is writing the script, based on Trump biographer Gwenda Blair’s book “Donald Trump: Master Apprentice.” Small-screen veteran John David Coles (“Desperate Housewives,” “Karen Sisco”) will direct.

HART CASTS SPELL ON FOX’S “DIRTBAGS’

Melissa Joan Hart is finally getting a chance to act her age on television.

The former “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” star, who was never actually a teenager while playing the part, has signed on to the Fox comedy pilot “Dirtbags,” the showbiz trade papers report. The show is about a group of twentysomething friends who live in a blue-collar Boston suburb.

Hart was 20 when “Sabrina” premiered on ABC in 1996, and the series followed her character through high school and college and into the working world. But because of legal issues with Archie Comics, where the character originated, the series was obligated to keep “Teenage” in its title for its entire seven-season run.

In addition to playing Sabrina in the series, which moved to The WB in 2000, Hart also starred in several TV movies spun from the show. She also was featured in the ABC Family show “Tying the Knot,” which chronicled her wedding to singer Mark Wilkerson.

Her movie credits include “Drive Me Crazy” and a cameo in “Not Another Teen Movie.” She’s currently working on an independent feature called “Jack Satin.”



“WEST WING’ GETS VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FROM NBC

Fans of “The West Wing” won’t be left hanging at the end of the Bartlet administration.

NBC, Warner Bros. TV and executive producer John Wells have just about finished a deal to bring the Emmy-winning drama back for a seventh season in 2005-06, which would take the show past its election storyline and into the first term of the new president, whomever that may be.

That could also bring significant changes to the cast, although regulars Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, John Spencer and Bradley Whitford are all under contract for next season, according to the Hollywood trade papers. Martin Sheen, who plays outgoing President Jed Bartlet, is also likely to return; Wells has said he’s interested in exploring how a president returns to the real world.

“The West Wing” also has options for Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda, whose characters are being set up to square off in the show’s election. A recent Zogby poll found that “West Wing” viewers favor Smits’s character, Democratic Rep. Matt Santo, over Alda’s Republican Sen. Arnold Vinick.

After hitting a low point – at least in many critics’ estimation – last season, “The West Wing” has rebounded some this year with stories involving a staff shakeup in the White House and the various campaigns to replace Bartlet. Additionally, NBC has aired the show with only one short break during the holidays to keep its momentum rolling.

The show’s ratings have taken a hit since “American Idol” returned to Fox in January, but its audience of 11.4 million viewers per week is fairly close to its 12 million-viewer average at this time last season. In both years “The West Wing” has been hampered by lackluster lead-ins.

“LEGAL’ LOCKS UP LOCKLEAR

Back in September, Heather Locklear probably would have chosen to look forward to May sweeps as the end of the triumphant first season of “LAX.” That NBC drama has gone the way of the dodo, but Locklear has found a reason to stay busy this May, snagging a two-episode guest spot on ABC’s “Boston Legal.”

Locklear is slated to play Kelly Nolan, a beautiful woman charged with poisoning her husband. Dubbed “The Black Widow” by the media, she’s defended by Alan Shore (James Spader) and Brad Chase (Mark Valley).

“We’re thrilled to be working with Heather again,” says the show’s creator and executive producer David E. Kelley. “Her humor, sex appeal and mischief make her perfectly suited for “Boston Legal.’ She’s so cool and mysterious, even I can’t tell if she did it.”

A six-time Golden Globe nominee for her work on “Melrose Place” and “Spin City,” Locklear’s additional television credits include “Dynasty” and “T.J. Hooker,” as well as a 2002 guest spot on Kelley’s “Ally McBeal.” Locklear will also be seen in the upcoming Hilary Duff feature “The Perfect Man.”

Averaging 12.6 million viewers per week in its cushy post-“Desperate Housewives” home, “Boston Legal” has also become a haven for guest stars. Freddie Prinze Jr., Dana Delany, Carl Reiner, Chi McBride, Shelley Long, Kerry Washington, Al Sharpton and Rupert Everett have all either appeared or taped guest spots on the legal drama.

DALTREY, WENDT, MOREAU DIVE INTO PILOTS

The Who frontman Roger Daltrey is off to antagonize mermaids, George Wendt is stepping back into a sitcom and Tim Matheson is meeting “The Prince.” All three have joined projects at The WB this pilot season.

Elsewhere, Marguerite Moreau, Nestor Carbonell, Phillip Rhys and Alfre Woodard have also joined pilot casts.

Daltrey, whose first acting gig was in the film version of “Tommy,” will play the bad guy in The WB’s mermaid drama, the showbiz trade papers report. The untitled project centers on a mermaid (Nathalie Kelley) who comes ashore in Miami and decides to live out of water.

In recent years Daltrey has logged numerous TV appearances in this country, including recurring parts on “Highlander” and Showtime’s “Rude Awakening,” along with guest spots on “That “70s Show” and “Witchblade.”

Former “Cheers” star Wendt, a six-time Emmy nominee for playing sad-sack bar patron Norm Peterson, has taken a role in the Frog’s Jerry Bruckheimer-produced comedy, which is now going by the title “The Evolution of Man.” The show centers on three young friends who hire a female life coach to get themselves on track.

Wendt, who starred in his own short-lived show a couple of years after “Cheers” ended, recently completed filming an adaptation of the David Mamet play “Edmond.”

Matheson, meanwhile, will star in the network’s soap “The Prince,” about the relationship between a wealthy, powerful New Yorker and his son. The “Animal House” star has returned to “The West Wing” this season as his character, former Vice President John Hoynes, campaigns for the presidency.

Elsewhere, Moreau (“life as we know it”) has joined the Fox pilot “Deviant Behavior,” a crime procedural about a team that tracks serial killers. Her other credits include “Wet Hot American Summer” and CBS’ “Helter Skelter.”

Also at Fox, Carbonell (“The Tick,” “Suddenly Susan”), Rhys (“24,” “Nip/Tuck”) and Leah Pipes (“Lost at Home”) have signed on to a drama from Sean Jablonski (“Nip/Tuck”) and Jason Katims (“Boston Public”). The untitled show is about the staff of a fertility clinic.

Multiple Emmy winner Woodard (“Miss Evers’ Boys,” “A Wrinkle in Time”), meanwhile, will be featured in the pilot for the other fertility-clinic drama in development this season, NBC’s “Inconceivable.” Her part will likely be a recurring, rather than regular, role if the show makes it to series.



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AP-NY-03-16-05 1653EST


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