Henry Goldblatt
October 03, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

As Dr. Kimberly Shaw on ”Melrose Place,” Marcia Cross decked Mackenzie Phillips at a female-empowerment seminar, stole Jane’s husband and Jo’s baby (and tried to murder and breastfeed them, respectively), and killed poor ”Dallas” refugee Morgan Brittany by blowing the whole ”Place” up.

So as Cross begins her half-season (or more) stint as yet another doctor on yet another Monday-night drama, it’s fair to ask, what’s she going to do to our precious citizens of ”Everwood?” ”There won’t be any of that in this show,” she promises.

Playing off one of the show’s preeminent themes, Cross’ Linda, Dr. Harold Abbott’s sister, returns to Everwood after a three-year absence to reconnect with her family. In the process she tries to heal the Hatfield-McCoy fracture between the two town docs — care of a little horizontal mambo with Treat Williams’ Dr. Andrew Brown. ”She’s been traveling around with Doctors Without Borders and studying herbal medicine in China,” Cross says. ”She does get involved with Andrew, but there’s more to it.”

For the past few years, save for guest appearances on the likes of ”Ally McBeal,” ”CSI,” and ”Spin City,” Cross has been more or less MIA from TV, which is pretty shabby treatment for an actress (Juilliard-trained!) who created one of the most memorable TV icons of the ’90s. But the hiatus was partly by choice: Cross, 41, just recently received her master’s in psychology from Antioch University (training that comes out when, in a soothing voice, she asks this writer to describe his surroundings). And, of course, the break was also the result of doing her last job a little too well. ”There was a lot of typecasting that I was crazy,” she says. ”I totally understood it, but I got tired of hearing it. I thought that either I would have a chance at some point or not.”

That chance came courtesy of ”Everwood” creator Greg Berlanti, who — gasp! — had never watched ”Melrose.” ”Marcia comes off a lot like her character,” he says. (It’s true: Cross peppers conversation with references to yoga and Eastern medicine.) ”In TV you look for the actor to embody as many of their character’s traits as possible. Since so many times the actor gets the [script] the day before she shoots, there’s not really time for a transformation,” Berlanti continues. ”I think a lot of people will soon only remember Marcia from ‘Everwood.”’

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re all for moving on too, but before we promise never to mention the K-word again, we simply have to know Cross’ favorite ”Melrose” memory. Turns out it’s one of Kimberly’s multiple personalities, Tupperware-toting Betsy. ”I know everyone wants me to say it’s the wig moment,” she says. (Yes, we do!) ”But it’s just not.” Shucks. (Additional reporting by Dan Snierson)

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