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Garner joining '8 Simple Rules'

Los Angeles -- James Garner is taking on what is likely one of the television season's most challenging roles: steering ABC's "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" through the transition of John Ritter's death.

The 75-year-old Garner, who starred in the '50s "Maverick" TV series, will guest star in four episodes, his publicist, Jennifer Allen, said Thursday.

Ritter died of a heart ailment last month. Garner will help the transition to a new focus -- a family coping with the sudden loss of its patriarch.

He'll play the father of Katey Sagal's widowed Cate Hennessy, who comes to support his daughter and three teenage grandchildren as they face the realities of becoming a single-parent family.

The first Garner episode will air during the November ratings sweep period.

Fatherhood comes to 'Late Night'

New York -- "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien and his wife, Liza Powel O'Brien, are the parents of a baby girl, NBC announced Wednesday.

Neve O'Brien was born Tuesday in New York City. She weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces, and mother and daughter are doing well, the network said.

She is the couple's first child.

The 40-year-old comedian and Powel were married in January 2002 in a ceremony in Seattle. They met when Powel, a Seattle ad executive, made an appearance on his show.

Ben refers to Jen as 'girlfriend'

New York -- Interesting choice of words.

Accepting an award from the liberal People for the American Way Foundation, Ben Affleck didn't use the f-word -- as in fiancee -- when referring to Jennifer Lopez.

"I only accept it in the hopes that the absurd amounts of publicity that I received lately, that as far as I can tell is chiefly because I have a pretty girlfriend, that's what I did, I am a champion of the American way with a pretty girlfriend -- bring it on, paparazzi, news at 11 -- in the hopes that some of that publicity might be pointed at something more significant, something more positive, productive and meaningful," Affleck said.

'Rings' actor files lawsuit

Los Angeles -- John Rhys-Davies, who plays dwarf Gimli in the "Lord of the Rings" films, has sued producers of the not-yet-released miniseries "La Femme Musketeer" for negligence after he suffered serious injuries in an on-set accident last year.

While filming in November in Croatia, Rhys-Davies, 59, was injured when a wood-and-tile stagewall fell on him, according to the Superior Court lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The actor names Hallmark Entertainment Distribution, director Steve Boyum, producer Fred Weintraub, executive producer Larry Levinson and others as defendants. Rhys-Davies contends they were negligent in "filming and production of the movie so as to cause the wall to fall."

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