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Molly Shannon stars in the NBC comedy series “Kath & Kim” at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays.

SNL alum relishes role in remake of Aussie sitcom

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Years ago, Molly Shannon got her hands on a few episodes of the Australian comedy “Kath & Kim,” complete with a hearty guarantee.

“My friend said, ‘You'll love this,' ” Shannon recalls with a laugh.

And she did.

In fact, she went around saying she wanted to star in the series if it was ever adapted for American audiences. Problem is, she never really thought that would happen.

But years later, it did.

Now, playing the tacky but lovable housewife Kath Day in the American version, Shannon just hopes she doesn't flub the opportunity she's been given.

“I know how hard TV can be, and I feel so appreciative toward getting this show,” she says. “I've been doing this for a long time, so I don't take anything for granted.”

“Kath & Kim” (8:30 p.m. Thursdays, NBC) is one of the few high-profile projects featuring Shannon since she left “Saturday Night Live” in 2001, ending a six-year stint and setting the record for the longest run for any female cast member.

Ever since she left, she's been picky, mainly because her attitude toward work has changed.

“I didn't want to work, work, work, work, work and let life pass me by,” says the comedian, who had two children - a boy and a girl - after departing the venerable sketch series.

Now, with her children going to school, Shannon is refocusing on her career, and the remake of “Kath & Kim” came along at the right time for her. It co-stars Selma Blair as Kim, the equally tacky and very lazy daughter.

“Kath & Kim” has had minimal success but has been commissioned for a full season. NBC is supportive even though reviews have been mixed.

Shannon is undaunted.

“I think this is a huge opportunity,” Shannon says. “It's a female-driven comedy, and I wish there were more of them. We can't get enough of them. TV is a grand vehicle for women if you can find the right vehicle, which isn't easy to do.”

Shannon says she wasn't particularly looking for a series when “Kath & Kim” came along, but she had kept busy.

“Cracking Up,” an outrageous Fox sitcom in 2004, lasted only a few episodes before being canned. That same year, she guest-starred on an episode of “Scrubs” and in the film “Good Boy!” In 2006, she appeared in the Sofia Coppola movie “Marie Antoinette.”

In a rare move to drama, she starred in the critically acclaimed film “Year of the Dog” in 2007.

Shannon will always be known for her colorful and flamboyant roles. Kath Day echoes the likes of her “SNL” characters Mary Katherine Gallagher, an awkward student at a Catholic school, and Sally O'Malley, a proud 50-year-old dancer who likes to “kick, stretch and kick.”

Shannon relishes reality TV, like A&E's “Intervention” and “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.” And, yes, she does watch “SNL.”

“When I first left the show, it was hard (to watch) because I missed it so much,” she says. “It was like a breakup. It took about a year before I could come around again. Now, I just enjoy it.”

Her favorite part, though, is the end as the credits roll, the audience applauding and cast members congratulating each other for getting through another week.

“I know what the performers go through. It's up and down,” she says. “So I know what they feel like when it is over.”

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