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Alfre Woodard Joins 'Desperate Housewives'

"Desperate Housewives" is about to get a new neighbor.

Alfre Woodard (search) is joining the cast of "Desperate Houswives" (search) as one of the newest denizens of Wisteria Lane, the first black woman to be a regular cast member.

"It's great to be breaking the color barrier, but we're all such fans of her," says co-executive producer Kevin Murphy. "She's one of the best actresses of her generation and to have her on the show is an incredible honor."

"Desperate" sources say Woodard will play a deeply religious, overbearing single mother who moves to Wisteria Lane after her son gets involved in an bad situation with a girl in their old neighborhood.

"Like all the rest of our woman," says Murphy, "there's going to be much more to her than initially meets the eye."

Woodard has a personal story very much like the some of the other, older female stars on "Desperate."

After a pistol-hot early career that won her an Emmy for the hospital series "St. Elsewhere," she has been confined to TV movies and miniseries — as well as making limited-run appearances on shows like "Hill Street Blues" and "The Practice."

"We're lucky to be able to give her a permanent home," says Murphy.

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