The casting news first: Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars is joining the show. Full announcement after the jump...
Here's the "Heroes" announcement:
Award-winning, critically acclaimed actress Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars") joins NBC's Emmy Award-nominated ensemble drama "Heroes" for a special multiple episode arc as "Elle," a sexy, intriguing, mysterious young lady who has ties to Peter's apparent death, H.R.G.'s past, and Claire's future. When fans first meet Elle in October, she will commit a terrible crime, but as always with "Heroes," it will be unclear whose side she is really on.
The announcement was made by "Heroes" executive producer/creator Tim Kring, who said: "This was not easy to pull off. But since we're an ensemble show, with many arcs playing out through the year, we found a way to jump into a small window in her schedule. I pitched her the idea we have for the character, which she loved, and we're off and running."
"Kristen Bell is a very special actress," said Universal Media Studios President Katherine Pope. "With so many studios chasing her in both film and TV, we're beyond delighted that she chose to star on our show. Viewers are going to love her in this role. The depth and complexity that she brings as an actress is a perfect fit for 'Heroes.'"
Most recently, Bell starred for three seasons in the title role of the Joel Silver-produced series "Veronica Mars," in which she played a smart, fearless apprentice private investigator dedicated to solving her wealthy seaside town's toughest mysteries. For her role, Bell won a Saturn Award for "Best Actress on Television" and was nominated for two Teen Choice Awards: "Choice Breakout Actress" and "Choice Breakout TV Show."
She will be seen next in the title role of Judd Apatow's romantic comedy for Universal, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"; co-stars in The Weinstein Company's "Fanboys"; and supplies the voice of Marybelle in 20th Century Fox's animated feature, "Sheepish" -- all of which will be released in 2008. In addition, this fall, Bell narrates the new series "Gossip Girl."
Bell also recently starred in the sci-fi thriller, "Pulse" released by The Weinstein Company in August, 2006, and she played the kidnapped daughter of the President in the David Mamet thriller, "Spartan," opposite Val Kilmer.
Bell starred in 2004's camp musical "Reefer Madness" on Showtime, which was based on the hit play, in which she also starred Off-Broadway. Previously, the actress was best-known for her recurring role in the HBO series "Deadwood." Her television credits also include a lead role in the critically acclaimed made-for-television movie, "Gracie's Choice," opposite Anne Heche and Diane Ladd for Lifetime, and guest-starring roles on such series as "American Dreams," "The Shield" and "Everwood."
On stage, Bell appeared in the Los Angeles Opera's all-star production of the Stephen Sondheim musical, "A Little Night Music," just prior to beginning production on "Veronica Mars." Previously, she starred in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" with Liam Neeson and Laura Linney, the Broadway production of "Tom Sawyer," and she played the title role in the World Premiere production of the musical "Sneaux."
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Bell attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
And here are my notes on my first-season dip, which I posted earlier:
As I mentioned in the weekend post, the family has been catching up with "Heroes" via the upcoming DVD release. (Early advisory: Be sure to check out the deleted scenes.) Since we have eight episodes to go, any comments I post here will be like reading a review of a book that the reviewer hasn't yet finished. Still, a few thoughts:
-- Good show. I knew that from my brief sampling of it at the beginning of the season, but watching it in this great quantity makes that even more evident. Although there are times when it struggles a bit -- as is inevitable with any show trying to tell a story across 22 episodes -- the struggles seem less than on most series.
-- Mixed characters. Ali Larter's Niki/Jessica didn't do much for me at the beginning of the show, and she still doesn't. Hiro, as the world knows, is a breakout character and consistently appealing, especially as he discovers the limitations of his power. I'm not sure that cheerleader Claire has held up, especially now that the cheerleader has been saved, but Mr. Bennet and Nathan Petrelli are walking question marks, which I like a great deal.
-- Mixed performances. Good points for Masi Oka, Jack Coleman, Adrian Pasdar. But Milo Ventimiglia (Peter) does too much acting with one eyebrow. And part of my concern about Claire may stem from Hayden Panettiere struggling in the scenes calling for heavier dramatic lifting.
-- Great popcorn entertainment at times but not a great show. It is possible to grow weary of the repeated references to heroes in different contexts. And the show doesn't have the emotional resonance of, say, "Friday Night Lights," which in its first season ranked among the finest shows ever. (And I'll concede right now that I might have a different opinion of "Heroes" once I get through the remaining telecasts.)