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Variety Magazine

16 August 2005

CBS jazzes up telepix
Butler, Bottoms join 'Bats,' Forster on the 'Hunt'


CBS is finalizing casting on a pair of movies from telepictelepic titans Frank Von Zerneck and Robert Sertner.
Brett ButlerBrett Butler and Timothy Bottoms ("DC 9/11") have joined the cast of "Vampire Bats," the sequel to last season's "Locusts!" And in an interesting move, CBS "Late Late Show" host Craig FergusonCraig Ferguson ("The Drew Carey Show""The Drew Carey Show") will return to his acting roots by making a cameo in the pic.

CBS has also cast several roles in "The Hunt for the BTK Killer," adding Robert ForsterRobert Forster ("Jackie Brown""Jackie Brown") in a key part. Both pics are being distributed by Sony Pictures TelevisionSony Pictures Television and produced by Von Zerneck/Sertner Films.

Eye has been looking to age down its older-skewing Sunday telepic package by incorporating more high-concept titles into the mix and using stunt casting to draw in new eyeballs.

In the case of "Vampire Bats," former "Xena" lead Lucy Lawless will star in the pic, while Butler -- best known for laffer "Grace Under Fire" -- isn't the usual telepic type.

What's more, casting Ferguson, even in a small role, ensures the latenight host will talk up the project regularly in the months leading up to its Halloween eve broadcast. Eye might also use his appearance as a PR hook in hyping the movie.

Ferguson's cameo calls for him to play a fisherman. That's the same role David Letterman played in the 1994 cult classic "Cabin Boy."

Lensing on "Vampire Bats" has begun in New Orleans, with Lawless, reprising her "Locusts!" role as Dr. Maddy Rierdon, looking into a deadly species of bats involved in a series of bizarre murders.

As for "BTK," Forster plays a veteran police detective who has followed the notorious Kansas killer over three decades. Character is a composite.

Gregg Henry ("Eyes") will play Dennis Rader (the BTK killer), while Michael Michele ("Kevin Hill") will play detective Ellen Baines.

Rader, who pleaded guilty to 10 murders earlier this year, is due to be sentenced this week.