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Glad to Be Blue

updated 09/17/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/17/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Charlotte Ross knows that, other than with chalk drawings and floating corpses, nothing says NYPD Blue more than nude scenes. "I dread them, and I stress about them, but they're a part of the business," says Ross, who joined the cast last season as Det. Connie McDowell. "When I saw that nude scene with Kim Delaney [Det. Diane Russell] it was nerve-racking. What woman wants a camera following around her naked butt?"

Ross better get used to the attention. With Delaney off doing her own ABC drama, Philly, and Andrea Thompson (Det. Jill Kirkendall) now anchoring CNN's Headline News, Ross, 33, is the show's lone policewoman. For now, says co-executive producer Bill Clark, "she's doing all the heavy lifting for the women." True to form, she has already done a striptease scene in her bra, but so far her character has avoided intra-precinct romances. "All the guys are wondering if I was brought in to be their love interest," she says.

One guy not wondering is Ross's fiancé, Jeremy Plager, 31, a movie agent she met on a blind date last year. "I knew that night that Jeremy was the one," says Ross, who grew up in Winnetka, Ill., where she and her younger brother were raised by their saleswoman mother, Debbie, 59, after their parents' 1980 divorce. "Our goals were a perfect match. Up to then I had found it very hard to find a stable person who puts a large emphasis on family." The couple, who plan to wed but don't yet have a date in mind, recently bought a six-bedroom home in Los Angeles, where they one day hope to put that emphasis to the test.

Till then Ross will enjoy being the new—and only—girl on the cop block. "It's a boys' club," she says of the Blue set, "but there's something really fun about this boys' club."

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