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FROM THE TELEVISION CRITICS TOUR.

IN A STATE: In ``The State Within,'' a BBC America miniseries debuting Feb. 17, a terrorist attack apparently carried out by a British citizen in Washington, D.C., initiates a complex series of interconnected events that threaten to level both the U.S. and U.K. governments. Think ``24,'' without the lunatic flights of fancy.

``State Within'' asks, ``Would you sacrifice the truth for your country or would you sacrifice your country for the truth?'' co-writer Lizzie Mickery said Wednesday at the semiannual TV press tour. ``We are more cynical about what we're told nowadays. We do not believe automatically what we're told, where we may have a number of years ago.''

Mickery wrote the miniseries with Daniel Percival, with whom she collaborated on the 2004 telefilm ``Dirty war,'' which explored the fallout from a London terrorist attack.

``It's something we live with now,'' Percival said. ``Were we part of the problem in writing `Dirty War'? You contribute to the culture of fear, and the culture of fear is what we found fascinating -- who's using it, who's exploiting it. Five years past 9/11, we're at a place we didn't expect to be in for the year 2000. How did we get here? We're all still reeling from this a little bit.''

But the series isn't just a terrorist thriller. ``Don't believe everything you see,'' Mickery warned. ``Don't think that the terrorist attack is what the show is about. It really isn't. It's a step along the way. It's about how people use the situation to manipulate people's fear and force governments to make rash decisions on the back of something.''

Jason Isaacs, who stars as a British ambassador whose investigation of the tragedy opens a can of worms for which he's not prepared, said, ``It's difficult to talk about this show, because it's a very complicated, labyrinthine kind of show, and if you pick at just one strand it sort of all unravels and you give away everything.

``Until the last minute of the sixth hour, you won't have a clue who the bad guys are.''

Sharon Gless (``Cagney & Lacey''), who plays the American defense secretary, said she based her character somewhat on former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

``A British reporter came up to me and said, `You even got her hump,' '' Gless said, reliving her mortification. ``I said, `Thank you so much for noticing.' I've been practicing my posture ever since then.''

-- David Kronke

ON THE OFFENSIVE: On the eager-to-offend ``The Sarah Silverman Program,'' Silverman sleeps with a character named Black God, poops in her pants and ``stubs her vagina.''

And yet, Silverman insists of her show, ``It's safe for all humans.''

Appearing at the Television Critics Association semiannual press tour in Pasadena, Silverman said: ``I don't think anything is off-limits if it's funny enough. (If) it's more funny than offensive to us, then it's fine. If it's a bummer, then we tend not to do it.''

On the show, Silverman portrays herself as selfish, vindictive and not just a little obnoxious.

``She truly believes she's a good person, but there's an a--holeness,'' she said of her TV incarnation.

``All I get to play are these bitches in movies, the bitchy girlfriend, the bitchy roommate,'' Silverman said. ``I hate that. But then my boyfriend (Jimmy Kimmel) says, `Yeah, but when you get to do your own thing, you play a bitch.' ''

Kimmel has a cameo in one episode, Silverman revealed. ``He's dressed as a woman, but it's not tranny-ish,'' she explained. His line: ``They call me Joan the Dispatcher because there's another Joan in accounting.''

Silverman and her collaborators feigned an amusing hostility toward one another during their press conference -- well, we're guessing it was feigned.

When executive producer Rob Schrab said, ``We came up with it in about an afternoon,'' cast member Brian Posehn muttered, ``It shows.''

Laura Silverman, who as Sarah's real-life sister was well-cast to play her sister on the series, admitted she was older than Sarah, but, ``I play her younger sister because who would believe it?''

The antagonism spilled into the press. When one critic asked what he admitted was a ``nitpicky'' question about a plot point, Silverman responded, ``Shut the (really nasty expletive) up!'' Again, we're pretty sure she was kidding.

-- D.K.

ANOTHER LIFETIME: Many things were learned during a rambling Lifetime press session Thursday at the semiannual TV press tour in Pasadena, chief among them that the cable network is slowly backing away from its reputation as a network solely for women and that Heather Locklear still likes rock stars.

``I don't think they want to hear `The Women's Channel' anymore,'' said Mark Gordon, producer of the upcoming Lifetime series ``Army Wives.'' The network has quit using the motto in its promotional materials.

Susanne Daniels, Lifetime Entertainment president, clarified:

``We're not backing away from our commitment to being the No. 1 network for women,'' she said, adding, ``We stand so much for television for women that we don't need to beat people over the head with it anymore.''

Still, that hasn't prevented the network from producing four TV movies based on best-selling romantic novelist Nora Roberts' work.

The first, ``Angels Fall,'' premieres Jan. 29, with the others following on subsequent Mondays.

During a session for the films, John Corbett, star of one of the movies, ``Montana Sky,'' called out to the assembled reporters, ``Men -- raise your hand if you watch Lifetime.'' None did -- no real men, at least. His point made, he said, ``I don't know that they made these movies for men. I know husbands and boyfriends will watch it.''

Daniels replied: ``I think it's our job at Lifetime to give women what they want. These books are a phenomenon. (Roberts probably) wrote a novel while we were talking today, and probably sold a million copies as well.''

Locklear, star of another Roberts teleflick, ``Angels Fall,'' announced, ``Just give women what we want; we'll all be happy.''

Upon learning that Corbett moonlights as a musician, Locklear responded, ``I never knew you were a rock star, but right on,'' and rubbed her hands together anticipatorily.

Locklear filed for divorce from guitarist Richie Sambora last year, and she had been married to drummer Tommy Lee before that.

``I'm single, I still like rock stars, and any man is good for me,'' she declared, fanning herself. When it was clarified that Corbett was in fact a country-rock artist, Locklear replied, ``I did a Toby Keith video and that was good. Just the video. I'm sure Toby Keith is good, too.

``Oh, s---,'' she sighed. ``I should keep my mouth shut.''

-- D.K.

CAPTION(S):

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Photo:

``I'm single, I still like rock stars, and any man is good for me,'' Heather Locklear, who will star in the Lifetime movie ``Angels Fall,'' noted during the TV critics press tour.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 13, 2007
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