Lynette Rice and William Keck
July 19, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

New ‘Girls’ in Town

Ally McWho? Fox’s promos for David E. Kelley’s new legal drama girls club — about a trio of female lawyers in San Francisco — tout that it’s ”from the creator of Boston Public and The Practice,” but there’s no mention of Kelley’s Ally McBeal. My, my — is the network looking to distance itself from its groundbreaking (but recently canceled) series? A Fox spokesman says simply, ”We chose to only reference dramas that will be on the air this fall.” Meanwhile, club coexecutive producer (and former Ally and Public director) Jack Bender understands the net’s motivation. ”Ally shouldn’t be avoided, but I think [Fox] is doing their best to say the show is going to be different,” he says. ”David is fully prepared to have everybody come out saying that [it’s similar to Ally].” But it’s not, says Bender: Kelley’s latest take on legal eagles follows three Stanford Law School grads (Rounders’ Gretchen Mol, Beverly Hills, 90210’s Kathleen Robertson, and That ’80s Show’s Chyler Leigh) who bunk together and score jobs at an old-boys law firm. ”These three women are associates, which is not an easy thing to be,” says Bender. ”The pressure is on to survive with their dignity and humor intact within this metaphorical girls club versus boys club.” Fine, but let’s hope these lady lawyers don’t have to endure a unisex bathroom.

True Blue

Exactly what kinds of dirty minds are navigating fall pilots? A number of show creators have pushed the proverbial envelope in an attempt to distinguish their new series, whether it’s depicting a sexed-up surgeon stimulating a hot Latina housekeeper with a vibrating pager (ABC’s Meds) or a cop farting in the face of his partner who’s trying to apply a wire to his crotch (Fox’s Fastlane). The foul language is flying too: In Fox’s Cedric the Entertainer Presents, one sketch features the star comedian as a mean character named Mrs. Cafeteria Lady who says things like ”I’m a bicycle with the seat off…. I’ll get in your ass.” Network suits not only defend the naughty content but say it will most likely make it on the air. ”You always want to create the highest possible stakes in a pilot,” says one Big Four exec. ”When you’re introducing a slew of new characters, it’s a quick and easy way to give someone a signature moment.” That’s one way to define a scene about cutting the cheese.

AND SO ON… Though Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) wonders if she’ll ever find a soul mate, some other characters on Sex and the City could get lucky in love during the show’s fifth season. Evan Handler (It’s Like, You Know…) will return as a divorce lawyer and potential love interest for Charlotte (Kristin Davis), while Carrie’s gay buddy Stanford (Willie Garson) falls for a song-and-dance man named Marcus (newcomer Sean Palmer). ”Marcus adores me,” gushes Garson, who adds, ”The audience will find him very attractive.” Nathan Lane will also pop up as himself this season; another song-and-dance man to vie for Stanford’s affection, perhaps?

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