Patty Hearst Joins 'Veronica Mars' Army

A storyline on "Veronica Mars" this season will have a trustee of Hearst College, the university Veronica now attends, going missing on the eve of a crucial trustees' meeting about the school's future.

Who better, then, to play the part than real-life Hearst heiress and one-time abductee Patty Hearst?

Such will be the case in a November episode of "Veronica Mars," which has its third-season premiere Tuesday, Oct. 3 on The CW. The show will follow Veronica (Kristen Bell) to college at Hearst, which is in her hometown of Neptune, Calif. The show's core cast will remain mostly intact -- Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring and Tina Majorino will be back -- but with the move from high school to college, some new characters will work their way into the show as well.

Hearst, who's appeared in several John Waters films and on episodes of "Boston Common" and "Son of the Beach," won't exactly be playing herself in the episode. The character, however, is clearly tailored for her. She's the granddaughter of newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, and on the show she'll play the granddaughter of Hearst College's founder (a timber mogul rather than a newsman).

The character's echoes her kidnapping by the radical group the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. After several months in captivity, she took the name "Tania" and joined the SLA in a San Francisco bank robbery on April 15 of that year. She was arrested in 1975 in Los Angeles and convicted after a lengthy trial the following year. She served 21 months in prison before then-President Carter commuted her sentence in 1979.

Creator Rob Thomas described the origins of the story this way in speaking to reporters last month: "If we can get Patty Hearst to play a board of trustees member -- what if she got kidnapped? That would be a pretty great story to tell. It's not an idea we've broken, but it's up on the wall as a possibility."

That possibility has now come down off the wall and into a script. The episode featuring Hearst is scheduled to air Nov. 21.

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