She's played the victim, a drug addict, and one gibberish-talking litigant and, despite what tabloids may report, that's in front of the camera. Now Wag the Dog's Anne Heche will do a damsel-in-distress routine for a 10-episode arc on The WB's Everwood (Mondays, 9 p.m.). Viewers were introduced this week to Heche's Amanda Hayes, the wife of a paralyzed stroke victim, who responds to Dr. Brown's (Treat Williams) care in more ways than one.
''She's been cut off to that part of herself that understands a connection with another man,'' explains the 35-year-old Heche, who last appeared in series TV on Ally McBeal in 2001. ''It will happen slowly. I'm just as excited as the audience to receive the information: Will he reach over and kiss me in the next script?'' Exec producer Rina Mimoun won't kiss-and-tell, other than to say that Heche is a perfect match for Everwood: ''She and Treat have great chemistry. Anne has a great sense of humor and a lovely natural quality.''
Heche would certainly appreciate the compliment. ''I need people to be reminded I can be fascinating!'' she says. No problem there: The actress is probably better known for her offscreen behavior (her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres and an Ecstasy-induced stroll through a California desert) as she is for her onscreen work (like last year's Emmy-nominated role in the Lifetime movie Gracie's Choice). ''Whoever hires me knows there is a lot of emotion I'll be able to access,'' she explains. ''Even if my life choices may seem a little confusing, it helps me as an actress.''
Not that she needs any help finding work: She'll play a lawyer who confronts an eerie past in the upcoming CBS movie The Dead Will Tell and will star opposite Nicole Kidman in Fine Line's Birth this fall. Once her time on Everwood is over, Heche says she'd like to star in her own TV series preferably one with a stable schedule that allows more time for her cameraman husband, Coleman Laffoon, and their 2-year-old son, Homer. Says Heche: ''My fantasy is comedy, but I'm open to CSI: LA.''