Oline Cogdill
The light drama Castle, starring Nathan Fillion as mystery writer Richard Castle who works with the NYPD, often featured a segment with the fictional author playing poker with real-life authors such as Michael Connelly, James Patterson and the late Stephen J Cannell.

For fans of the TV series -- and the authors -- these scenes were an extra treat, a wink for avid readers and viewers.

But the scenes haven't been a part of the ABC series since the death last September of Cannell.

The poker games will be back with Castle's April 11 episode, which airs at 10 p.m.

Richard Castle will be joined by his regular poker buddy Michael Connelly. Dennis Lehane also will be at the table. A new guy will be joining the group, too.

And the poker buddies will be commenting on the loss of their colleague.

"There's a nod to Cannell in that a chair at the poker table. [The chair] is left empty and a glass of scotch is placed there," Connelly told me in an email.

The scene is quite humorous as Connelly and Lehane -- and Castle -- talk about the movies that have been made from their novels. Connelly and Lehane prove to be quite the actors and both are a pleasure to watch. They seem as if they had a great time doing the scene.

This is a poker game to gamble on. And here's a sneak peek.

Cannell's final appearance on Castle was the May 17, 2010, episode, "A Deadly Game."

Cannell, who died from melanoma, held myriad roles in Hollywood. He produced such popular TV series as The Rockford Files, The A-Team, Wiseguy, 21 Jump Street and The Commish.
He wrote the Shane Scully novels; the 10th in this series, The Prostitutes' Ball (2010), was released after his death. He often popped up as cameo roles in a variety of TV series and movies. And he was considered an all-around nice guy.
Photo, from left, Michael Connelly, Stephen J. Cannell, Nathan Fillion, and James Patterson (with back to camera) in Castle. ABC photo