As if there weren’t enough questions surrounding FOX’s hit medical drama House already, one of the show’s stars, Robert Sean Leonard, has recently announced he will be taking a lead role on Broadway in just a few short weeks. It is also worth mentioning the final episodes of the show’s seventh season begin filming around that time, too.

That’s right; House’s very own Dr. James Wilson will be heading up the revival of Born Yesterday. For those of you unfamiliar with the Garson Kanin play, it concerns one Paul Verrall, a journalist who has undertaken the education of showgirl Bille Dawn, at the request of her powerful significant other, Harry Brock. Leonard is set to play Verrall, and will be joined onstage by Jim Belushi and Nina Arianda—I’ll leave it to you to figure out their respective roles.

Previews for Born Yesterday begin March 31, and the show officially opens on April 24. Naturally, this news has many wondering if we’ve seen the last of Leonard on this season of House. Surprisingly, FOX claims pulling double duty will have little effect on the show in regards to Leonard’s role; at worst, the actor may be out of a few episodes in the Fall.

That silver lining will only exist if Leonard even returns next season. Because FOX is at odds with NBC Universal over who will be footing the bill on the eighth season of House, no one in the cast – with the exception of Hugh Laurie – has committed to reprising their roles. Since the word “optimistic” is poised on the lips of everyone involved with the show from producers to cast, this wallet-opening stalemate doesn’t look like it will last much longer. Nonetheless, the turbulent situation could leave Leonard perfectly poised to say goodbye, should this new commitment prove lengthier and more time-consuming than anyone first realized.

Then again, as evidence by the highly-anticipated return of Olivia Wilde, the House casting door seems to swing both ways with stunning regularity, so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to see accommodations being made to suit Leonard, should he decide to stay on. In the event Leonard does turn his back on the role, or see his episode count greatly diminished due to his extra-curricular activities, what would the impact be for the show? House has been on long enough to have seen its fair share of cast memebers depart with nary a hiccup in ratings, but none have had the importance of Leonard’s character. Would a Dr. Wilson-less House be any less of a success?

House airs Monday @8pm, on FOX

Source: The New York Times