Don't tell Greg Germann that the corporate weasel he portrays in the current Tim Allen comedy Joe Somebody is basically a clone of Richard Fish, the, um, corporate weasel he portrays every week on Fox's Ally McBeal. "Oh no he's not," the actor mock-protests to TV Guide Online. "That's not true!"

Alright, we'll bite: How are the two characters different? "Jeremy in [Joe Somebody] is a slimeball with no ethics at all. Richard Fish — for all of his opportunism — is a pretty straight-up guy," Germann argues. "He's not going to screw you over for the sake of screwing you over. Jeremy is a little bit more pathetic. He's much more of a loser than Richard Fish." Pausing, he adds with a wink: "And they walk differently."

All joking aside, the 39-year-old Texas native concedes that when he was first handed the Somebody script, the similarities between Jeremy and Fish were not lost on him. "But then a part of me feels like if I can carve a niche out [as a smarmy white-collar type], I'll carve it."

With Ally in a bit of a ratings tailspin this season, now might be a good time for Germann to see if his sleazy shtick plays well on the big screen. Not that he's ready to give up on the five-year-old, Emmy-winning dramedy. "We're hoping that our ratings pick up after the first of the year," he says, citing the show's recent Golden Globe nod as a hopeful sign. "Five years is a long time to have any job, so I think [creator] David [E. Kelley]'s always trying to figure out ways to keep it fresh."

To that end, Kelley is listening to critics and dropping new castmembers James Marsden and Julianne Nicholson (they'll go off to create their own law firm), and bringing back the sublime Dame Edna Everage in a plot that could give Ally just the boost it needs. "It's a powerful romance [with Fish]," Germann deadpans. "The shower scenes are really going to be something. We'll get the ratings up with that."