Kirstie Alley on 'Downton Abbey': 'I just want a role'

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Kirstie Alley is happy to show it's not all laughs where she's concerned.

Best-known for such high-spirited ventures as "Cheers" -- for which she won an Emmy -- and her two stints on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," the actress has more humor in her future with her upcoming TV Land sitcom "Kirstie."

First, though, she makes a dramatic stop: Saturday's (Aug. 18) new Lifetime movie "Baby Sellers" casts her as an adoption-agency chief using questionable means to acquire youngsters for childless couples.

"The last couple of years have just been a ball," the ever-lively Alley tells Zap2it. "When 'Dancing With the Stars' first came up for me, every person on my team said, 'Don't do it.' Well, that always makes me rise to the challenge. I realized, 'This could be a huge mistake, or it could be glorious.' And it was a challenge I couldn't resist.

"As an an actor, you do different things ... but as a person, you get complacent a bit. I think success is a double-edged sword. If you have a lot of success, like I've fortunately had, you have the freedom to go where you want and do what you want. And you can become a little bored, and I was. And 'Dancing With the Stars' woke me up."

Also an Emmy winner for the 1994 movie "David's Mother," Alley was nominated as well for dramatic work in the 1997 miniseries "The Last Don." She likens the careers of actors -- "when they're lucky" -- to horse races.

"It's like you're out of the gate and, 'Whoo!' And then you have to rest a bit and then you're, 'Whoo!,' again. When I do a series, it's obviously doing a new story every week, so I think that's why sitcoms are my domain. I don't even know how people do dramatic shows. Those are like movies that never end.

"I'm not a candidate for a one-hour show," Alley confirms, "but a sitcom gives you a new escapade every week. And it's terribly exciting, but one of the reasons I wanted to do 'Baby Sellers' was to mix it up. Right before ['Kirstie'], I wanted to do something heavy.

"And I've gotten really brave. If I want to be in somebody's show, or even do a play in someone's backyard, I'll just call them up. I'd really like to call the people at 'Downton Abbey.' I don't even care if I play ... well, I guess a gardener would be a big role. I just want a role there!"
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