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At the end of "I'll Fly Away," Kathryn Harrold, the actress who played lawyer Christina LeKatzis, just, well, flew away.

"It was left up in the air," says the actress. "My character got on an elevator with a couple of FBI guys, and that was the last you saw of her."

That was not the last we saw of Harrold, however. No sooner had NBC announced it was canceling its acclaimed series than she moved on to HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show" starring Garry Shandling. Harrold plays Francine, Sanders's ex-wife and latest girlfriend.

Harrold says the offbeat ensemble show on the pay-cable channel was the perfect segue to the emotional withdrawal she felt at the end of "I'll Fly Away."

Acting in the civil-rights-oriented series was so intense, Harrold says, that when cancellation came it was very difficult for both cast and crew to let go. Harrold left the set early.

"We all started to leave little by little, and it was really sad. I cried. We were all really, really close, and the crew was great, since we were all down in Atlanta together. I said to Sam (Waterston), 'It's like I'm going to the guillotine. You guys are back in the Bastille, and you're all thinking, "Isn't that sad? She's going to the guillotine, but we're probably not going to go." But you will.'

"He called me up after we wrapped and said, 'You were right.' It was really sad. He said he cried; Regina (Taylor) cried. It was so hard for all of us."

Fans of the defunct show probably would agree. It has won several awards since its cancellation. Most recently, the show was honored with a Humanitas Prize for its success in conveying Judeo-Christian values. In May, on the American Television Awards telecast, "I'll Fly Away" won for best dramatic series, best lead actress (for Taylor as Lilly Turner) and best lead actor (Waterston). The awards are decided by a poll of viewers, whose votes indicated that they missed this show.

PBS recently announced that it will produce a 90-minute movie of the series, told in flashback style as Lilly Turner at age 63 tells her 12-year-old grandson about the birth of the civil-rights movement. The movie will air Oct. 11, followed by a run of all 39 original episodes on consecutive Monday nights.

Meanwhile, Harrold is busy playing Francine in "The Larry Sanders Show." Francine is talk-show host Sanders's first wife, who returns to rekindle their romance after his latest wife leaves him. The scathing satire of late-night talk shows is drawing praise from critics and fans alike.

With "I'll Fly Away," that's two high-caliber shows for Harrold.

The elegant actress, in her early 40s, makes pauses in her "Sanders" production schedule for her monthly rendezvous in Washington with love-interest Lawrence O'Donnell.

"He's the chief of staff of the (Senate) Finance Committee for Sen. (Daniel Patrick) Moynihan," she says. "It's so sad, because I have no idea what he's talking about ... Every once in a while he comes back with a 'Boy, are you going to have to pay taxes!' because actors make money erratically."

The switch from the serious role of lawyer LeKatzis, romantic interest to Waterston's character, to Francine the journalist on Shandling's wry satire was an easy one for Harrold.

"It was like actor's therapy for me. It was exactly what I wanted. 'I'll Fly Away' was so great, and I loved it," but she acknowledged that her role in the Southern drama was an exhausting one. "I wanted to get away from the character and away from that heavy seriousness."

Enter comic actor Shandling, who met Harrold when he was guest-host of "The Tonight Show" and she was the guest. With Shandling's show, Harrold says, "It's comedy, but it's comedy based in reality. So it's not sitcom acting where you think, 'No one acts like that. Why are the people talking so loud and so quickly?' "

Shandling recruits an audience to tape the talk-show segments within his show. So if those guest interviews look real, they should. This season, the show's second, Sanders' interviewees for the show-within-a-show include celebrities Suzanne Somers, Hugh Hefner, Bruno Kirby, Helen Hunt, Dana Delany and Teri Garr.

"Some of it's scripted, some of it's not," says Harrold.

"The Larry Sanders Show" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on HBO.

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