Peri Gilpin on <EM>Medium</EM> Peri Gilpin on Medium

Allison Dubois' much-maligned and referenced mother gets a face in tonight's episode of Medium (10 pm/ET on NBC), when Peri Gilpin returns to TV for the first time since her 11-year-run on Frasier.

"I've been kept busy with babies," says Gilpin, the mother of 3-year-old twin girls, Stella and Ava, who were born a month and a half after Frasier ended. "The timing couldn't have been better — to be home with them and raise them and get to know them and not be frazzled and distracted. It's fantastic!"

Still, she's ready to return to TV. Gilpin, 45, says she "laughed out loud" when they told her she'd be playing the mother of Patricia Arquette, who is only seven years younger. "I'm pretty cool about my age, but you want me to play Allison's mom?! And then they said, 'Yes, when she was 17,' and I went, 'Oh, OK.'" Gilpin says Diane is a "cool" single-mom waitress who is less than thrilled when Allison's gifts are revealed. (Allison's teen self is portrayed by Veronica Mars' Jessy Schram.)

Of course, Gilpin professes herself to be a fan of the series executive-produced by her own former "boss," Kelsey Grammer. "I love the show. It's a really, really good show," says the actress. "Patricia Arquette is wonderful. One of the things I really love about it is that in a lot of crime shows, the lead is a cop, so it's really interesting and intriguing that [Allison] is helping to solve a crime, she gets emotionally torn up by it, and she's not detached in any way, like regular cops are. To make that work, it's hard. It's best if the audience feels what she feels, to see her go through what she does, while she's helping solve a crime."

Gilpin reveals that the idea for Medium had been brewing for a long time before its January 2005 debut. "What's interesting is that when they were developing Medium, we'd talk about it during lunch on Frasier," she recalls. "I remember Kelsey saying Allison's grandmother had this ability and gift, but her mother did not, that it skipped a generation. As a result, her mom had such a deep feeling of resentment for her own mother, and then rejected it in her daughter. It was intriguing, and stayed with me," affording Gilpin an idea of how to play Diane.

This Medium drop-by might encourage Gilpin to size up a larger return to series television. "I want to do everything!" she exclaims. "I would [do a series] if it were the right thing, and it wouldn't interfere with raising my children, which I've enjoyed so much. But then, people do this work all the time and have children. I'm ready to do this, I think I can juggle it all. At least I hope I can!"

For more Medium scoop, pick up the  March 5 issue of TV Guide.

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