By Ken Tucker
April 25, 2009 at 08:24 PM EDT

At a panel devoted to Fringe at Los Angeles’ PaleyFest earlier this week, we learned that Leonard Nimoy will not just appear, as previously announced, in the show’s season finale. He’ll be returning occasionally to reprise the role of William Bell, the mysterious scientist and former partner of Fringe central character Dr. Walter Bishop, played by John Noble.

“I do look forward to working with him next year,” said Noble. Fellow panelist Anna Torv is the only Fringe star to share a scene with Nimoy in this season’s finale, which airs May 12.

The Fringe/Nimoy connection is, of course, J.J. Abrams, who’s directed the new Star Trek movie and is an exec producer of Fringe. “Nimoy was lovely and enthusiastic,” said Abrams when he brought up the notion of Nimoy playing Bell. “He contributed ideas to who William was in the past [when he worked with Dr. Bishop] and what he’d be like now. He hasn’t signed on for just one episode,” said Abrams on the panel.

Hey, if Trekkers seek out Fringe because of the Man Who Is Spock, it’s a good thing, right?