When they are not battling the press, the unprofessional and badly behaved couple Madonna and Sean Penn are upset about the criticism they have received in England, where they are making a movie. Madonna held a press conference yesterday to strike back at criticism in London newspapers that had labeled the couple "Poison Penns." Even the not often seen former Beatle George Harrison, who is producer of "Shanghai Express," the film Madonna and Penn are starring in, showed up at the press conference to say the couple were not causing problems on the movie set.

Madonna denied that she and her husband were causing any trouble. She said she had nothing to apologize for and threatened never to make another film in London. That may not seem like a threat to the British after what has been going on. There was one report that Madonna insisted a crew member be fired because she had asked for the pop singer's autograph. And the couple have had physical battles with photographers in several major cities around the world. Their bad manners have reached such notoriety that Liz Smith, the New York Daily News columnist, sharply urged this year's celebrity couple, who are relatively untested stars, to learn a lesson from the behavior of Elizabeth Taylor and the late Richard Burton, who handled the pressure of stardom with grace and flawless manners. End Notes

Actress Ginger Rogers has filed an $8 million lawsuit to block the release of Federico Fellini's forthcoming movie, "Ginger and Fred." The 73-year-old Rogers, who now lives in Oregon, is seeking an injunction barring the film's distribution. According to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, "Ginger and Fred" is an illegal attempt by producer Alberto Grimaldi and the distributor, MGM/United Artists, to take advantage of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers fame, even though the couple in the movie is fictional. The complaint also accuses the filmmakers of depicting Rogers in a false light. In the movie, Marcello Mastroianni and Giulietta Masina portray two aging music hall dancers popular in Italy in the 1940s for their imitation of Astaire and Rogers. Fellini said he "can't believe" Rogers is suing, and Grimaldi said the title "is a form of compliment." Astaire, 86, did not join in the suit . . .

It seems that Rep. Edward Markey is not the only congressman to find that his office makes a better art gallery for professional art from back home than for a rogues' gallery of official, autographed political portraits. Sen. Frank Lautenberg has an annual art exhibit for New Jersey artists. This year's exhibit, which opened Monday and runs through May 31, is titled "Transformations: New Jersey Women's Caucus for Art." It features the art of 13 women from New Jersey and is displayed in all the senator's offices, including his private office . . .

Former Georgia governor Lester Maddox, like so many politicians, had no love for the press, and when his official portrait was unveiled in the rotunda of the state capitol yesterday, he found a way to get even. In the oil painting, Maddox, who was governor from 1967 to 1971, is in a seersucker suit standing in front of a table. On the table are a portrait of his wife, a couple of peaches (Georgia, you know) and a mullet wrapped in newspaper. If this idea ever catches on there won't ever be another portrait of a politician without a fish wrapped in newspaper, undoubtedly sitting on top of a television set for added symbolism. Oddly enough, Maddox's portrait didn't include his most famous symbol, the pick handle he threatened to use to keep "integrationists" out of his Atlanta restaurant . . .

Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was on his way to Spain yesterday on a private jet after Greek authorities made it clear he was not welcome in their country. The Rolls-Royce-collecting Rajneesh had a commune in Oregon until last year when he was deported. Maybe someone can find an exotic island somewhere for undesirables such as the Bhagwan, "Baby Doc" and the Marcoses and solve a growing problem for the world . . .

Rep. Mo Udall, probably the funniest man on the Hill, prepared a speech to honor Bun Bray, former staff director for the House manpower subcommittee, who is retiring as head of the Federal Managers Association. At the dinner last night at the Gateway Marriott in Crystal City, Udall decided to confront directly the issue of proposed mandatory urinalysis for federal employes. In his prepared remarks, he said: "Before you all get settled down for my glowing tribute . . . let me make an announcement. Waiters will soon be distributing a small plastic cup so that your mandatory urinalysis contribution can be picked up after the dinner at the coat check room. As a consequence of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill, there will be a slight charge for the cup" . . . Rep. Joseph Addabbo, 60, who collapsed yesterday at a luncheon at the Shoreham, was taken to Georgetown Hospital, where he was reported in stable condition. A hospital spokesman said he was suffering from an undetermined "cardiac abnormality" . . .