Malcolm in the Middle
mom Jane Kaczmarek
, who has been a no-show around the Fox comedy's L.A. set since early February, returned to work Thursday. The 46-year-old actress, who plays manic Lois, had been suffering from intense migraine headaches. Sources, however, tell TV Guide Online that her reps had been negotiating with the show's producers for a big pay raise. Her publicist denies any connection between her health and salary talks, but similar rumors about a "sick out" circulated in September during another of Kaczmarek's absences. (Her husband, actor Bradley Whitford
, was among four members of The West Wing
cast that threatened to walk out last summer over a pay dispute.) Kaczmarek's MIA status forced producers to eliminate two episodes — there will be only 22 Malcolm
s this season, instead of 24.