Chris Haston, NBC
Randy (Ethan Suplee) meets Paris Hilton in Earl's dream.

If Paris Hilton making a cameo appearance on "My Name Is Earl" sounds like a cheap, dumb and cheesy stunt, it is.

But it's supposed to be.

When last we saw Earl (Jason Lee) back on Jan. 10, he had just been hit by a car. When the show returns tonight (7 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5), Earl is in a coma. And he's dreaming that he's in a totally lame sitcom.

Enter Hilton, who's in the show for 21 seconds. Really.

In that time, she has but one line, which she repeats four times: "That's hot."

It's awful. But it's supposed to be.

Hey, if you're mocking sitcoms by making one as awful as possible, who could be a more appropriate guest star than Paris Hilton?

Lee wasn't impressed with Hilton's sincerity.

"I kind of get the feeling that, with Paris Hilton, it was one of those, 'Oh, I love the show.' Guarantee you, she's never seen an episode," he said.

Lee and creator/executive producer Greg Garcia both said Hilton was actually on set so briefly it was hard to form much of an impression.

"Paris just came in for one day and did a quick little thing with us and really had a great sense of humor about herself and played herself," Garcia said.

"She was here for 15 minutes and she was playing herself and doing her thing," Lee said. "She was a trouper."

"She was really nice. I mean, like Jason said, she wasn't here that long and so we don't have a lot of dirt on her or anything like that," Garcia said. "I can just say that she came in, she knew what to do and she was very professional and very sweet and nice to everybody."

• Lee is much more excited about Alyssa Milano continuing as a recurring member of the cast.

"Having had a huge, huge childhood crush on Alyssa Milano, it was very surreal meeting her and getting to work with her," he said.

Milano plays Billie, who Earl met when she came to visit her boyfriend in prison (where Earl was an inmate). She returned in that Jan. 10 episode — it was her car that hit Earl, and when she got out to check on him she was herself run down by another car.

(She, too, is in a coma, and she's in Earl's faux sitcom dreams. And it turns out we know who ran her down — that person's identity is revealed in tonight's hourlong episode.)

"I was pretty fascinated with how kind of short she is," Lee said. "She said she's 5'3" on a good day and I thought she was very cute. And she kind of definitely fulfilled the vision I had as a kid of what it would be like to one day meet."

• Tonight's "Earl" also features a guest appearance by NBC Universal president Jeff Zucker.

"I think he's got a big future in television," Garcia joked. "He came in. He nailed his lines. He was very believable as Jeff Zucker."

Not really. TV Jeff Zucker seemed like a nice guy and not a corporate weasel.

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