Anthony Edwards Resurrected on ER

Dr. Greene's back from the dead this week on ER.

But as exciting as that is, no ER interview would be complete without asking about the chances of George Clooney scrubbing in before the series closes up shop after 15 years.

And there's no one better to ask than the man who has been running ER from the beginning, executive producer John Wells.

Wells says part of the fun for returning ER alums is being able to come back and see their old pals.

"George's offices are close to us on the lot, he plays basketball out here," Wells says during a phone interview at his L.A. office. "Coming back isn't nearly as nostalgic for him."

Wells says Edwards returned because the writers were able to come up with a story Wells felt comfortable pitching to him.

"I knew Anthony was really going to like this story," Wells says. "If we came up with something equally satisfying about Ross (Clooney's character), then I'd pitch it. He's a great guy, and if it was a good story, he might do it."

That said, Wells says he hesitates to do anything that sniffs of a stunt. He's satisfied with the happily-ever-after ending he gave to Ross and his soul mate Carol (Julianna Margulies).

Besides, he's already got Noah Wyle coming back on the final episode to wrap up the show, and assorted appearances by other former cast members including Maria Bello and Eriq La Salle.

"You don't have to have everyone coming back for the party," Wells says.

Perhaps not everyone, but a good portion of the old crew pops up throughout the final season of ER which in its first seven seasons was television's most watched drama.

And in the phenomenally good and heart-breaking episode airing on Thursday, Nov. 13 (10 p.m. ET) on NBC featuring Edwards, you'll see a virtual parade of ER vets.

"They are having good luck in getting almost everyone back, and kind of spreading us out over the course of the season," Edwards says in a phone interview from his home in New York. "I loved being back in the sets in L.A. and Chicago. Oh my god, I spent so much of my life there, with all these great people. And here I was back, working with Yvette Freeman and a lot of the original cast and crew. It was the best, like a happy high school reunion."

Edwards left the series in 2002 to spend more time with his family, which now includes wife Jeanine and their four children.

"I remember fans coming up to me on the street, wanting me to continue with the show," Edwards says. "One day, I guess my oldest daughter just couldn't stand it any more and told someone 'Listen, my dad is dying so he can be with us.' "

And that's exactly what he did.

He even took his family on a yearlong excursion around the globe. Now, the family resides in New York City, where Edwards is producing new TV series and working on charities including building a hospital in Africa through his

Shoe4Africa

foundation.

"I said I would come back if they donated my $125,00 salary to the hospital fund, and then (ER executive producer) Steven Spielberg heard about it and matched that donation," Edwards says.

Wells kicked in another $50,000 to the fund.

All this because of Edwards' unlikely return to a show that gave his character an emotional send-off. Dr. Greene's death from a brain tumor seemed to close the door on any future return to the series.

Dr. Greene is seen in most of the last half of the episode in flashbacks, playing a pivotal role in Dr. Banfield's (Angela Bassett) life.

Edwards says he was in Kenya in August to kick off the building of the new hospital there.

"I told them that I was going back to ER and they were going to make a donation to kick off the fund raising," Edwards says. "(Someone said) 'Oh my goodness. Dr. Greene is coming back to build us a hospital.' It was thrilling to be able to have fun going back and doing a job I loved, and to also use it as a way to raise money to build this hospital."