September 17, 2003 03:57 PM

Eric McCormack’s new love interest on “Will & Grace” will be played by former “The Practice” star Dylan McDermott, in an episode set to air Oct. 30, reports TV Guide.

It remains to be seen whether the role will be a recurring one for the tall, dark and handsome leading man (who even looks a bit like McCormack). McDermott, 41, says that a final decision to keep him on the show as Will’s fulltime lover is hanging because, “It scares people.”

“It scares middle America,” he adds. “So we have to be careful. And I think to do it with the right person — somebody they already know, an actor they’re already comfortable with — might help. This is maybe one that makes them comfortable.”

Some critics of “Will & Grace” — that is, both professional critics on newspapers and armchair critics at home — have carped that the Will character on the top-rated, 6-year-old NBC sitcom has a failed love life, making him something of a eunuch and, therefore, a total non-threat to mainstream viewers.

In the current PEOPLE, Emmy nominee McCormack, 40, when asked about the possibility of a wedding for Will this coming season (since Grace had one last year), jokingly responded: “Does Will get married? Yes, that’s our big sweeps episode. He will marry Verne Troyer (Mini Me from “Austin Powers”). Seriously, there should be some action coming up for Will.”

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