NEW YORK (AP) _ Noah Wyle is back on ``ER'' after taking a few months off, but he's so used to hanging out with his family that it pains him to leave for work.

``But very few fathers have an opportunity to work for a few years while their kids are this young, and then have the freedom to spend the bulk of time through their adolescence, so that's the game plan,'' he told AP Radio recently.

Wyle is the only actor on the NBC medical drama to stay all 10 seasons, remaining as George Clooney, Anthony Edwards, Julianna Margulies and others moved on.

He said it's best for storytelling to have a few longtime characters stick around, but he's also glad when new people show up.

``You can tell old stories, but with a different perspective, and I think that's very refreshing,'' he said.

The 32-year-old actor is signed to stay on the show until 2005. He doesn't expect to be there in 10 more years, though he's grateful for the experience and the freedom ``ER'' affords him.

``My wife and I plan on having more kids, and a few years ago we bought some property up North so we're thinking of spending the bulk of our time up there,'' he said.


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