Hart-of-Dixie-Rachel-Bilson-Wilson-Bethel-Josh-Cooke.jpgAs season three of The CW’s romantic dramedy “Hart of Dixie” opens tonight (Monday, Oct. 7), New York Dr. Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) has spent a summer back in the Big Apple after blowing off both lawyer George (Scott Porter) and bar owner ex-boyfriend Wade (Wilson Bethel), who rushed to declare his love for her before she left.

And since she also blew off her adopted home of BlueBell, Ala., to return to the big city, no one there’s particularly happy to see her either when she shows up again.

Of course, one way or another, Zoe’s staying in BlueBell, but this Gotham expatriate is going to now have some company.

Starting in the season premiere, Josh Cooke (“Dexter”) joins the cast as Joel, a New York novelist who’s landed in BlueBell to … well, even Cooke isn’t entirely sure.

“This has not necessarily been revealed to me at this point,” Cooke, taking a break in Dr. Brick Breeland’s (Tim Matheson) office during filming on Episode 3, tells Zap2it. “Television writers. It has not been reveled to me what I’m doing here, as far as writing is concerned, but hopefully that will come up. I have an idea.”

Asked what Joel thinks of Zoe, Cooke says, “He thinks Zoe’s great. How could you not think Zoe’s great. She is a little more, it seems to me, well-adjusted and a fan of this town, at this point in time.”

Joel may like Zoe, but, to no one’s surprise, Wade isn’t fond of Joel.

Says Cooke, “I think the idea of having an intellectual with New York, big-city attitude around, I could tell he’s not a big fan of that. He could deal with [that attitude] better when it was Zoe, because she has the added benefit of being, A, attractive, and B, a woman.”

Cooke is very happy to be in BlueBell (otherwise known as the Warner Bros. Studios backlot in Burbank, Calif.), and he feels right at home as a big-city guy in a small Southern town.

“The breakdown for the character,” he explains, “says he’s from New York, and he comes to Alabama. I, being from Philadelphia, living in Los Angeles — my wife is from Lake Charles, La., and we have a place there.

“Over the past year and a half, we have lived there five or six months, in Lake Charles. So when this role came up, I thought, ‘I live this. I know exactly what it’s like to go from a big city to a place like BlueBell.'”

Posted by:Kate O'Hare