Sunday, the critically praised cop show ”Homicide” returns to NBC with a TV-movie spin-off, ”Homicide: The Movie” (9 p.m.). The good news? Everyone (and we do mean everyone) who starred in the show during its six-year run is back, from old-timers Ned Beatty and Daniel Baldwin to latecomers Jon Seda and Giancarlo Esposito. Even Jason Priestley does a cameo in the movie, which brings the troops back together when Lieut. Al Giardello (Yaphet Kotto) is seriously injured while running for mayor. The bad news? Overcrowding. EW gave the movie a mediocre C grade because many scenes seemed written solely for the purpose of giving each cast member his or her share of screen time. ”I had dick all to do in the movie, because there were 21 of us,” jokes Callie Thorne, who played Det. Laura Ballard from 1997 to 1999. ”Still, it’s a really REALLY good story.”
Good enough to get some of the series’ players thinking about making ”Homicide” a semiregular part of the TV movie machine. ”When we were doing press in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, I was saying, ‘Can we be the new ”Columbo” and do a TV movie every year?’ And [creator] Tom Fontana told me they were thinking about it,” says Thorne. Still, the actress has a few reservations about slipping back into Ballard’s shoes: ”On the series they made me die my hair black so that Jon Seda and I would have the same color hair for some reason. So for two years I had this black helmet on my head. It was SO upsetting.”
In her next role, as a harried meter maid in the independent movie ”Double Parked,” Thorne got her chance to lighten up. ”I asked to dye it blond for the movie, and now I keep trying to make it blonder,” she says, ”but my agents have said, ‘Tone it down, we don’t want you looking like a heroin addict.”’ Talk about a juicy character arc for Detective Ballard.