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February 18, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

Networks may focus on the latest pretty young face, but audiences often prefer a more mature star. Some of the most popular shows in prime time today are headlined by beloved actors ages 50 and above. CBS has NCIS (19.9 million viewers), starring Mark Harmon, 59; Fox has House (9.9 million viewers), with Hugh Laurie, 51; and now NBC has Harry’s Law (11.5 million viewers), featuring Kathy Bates, 62. Though the fourth-place Peacock tried to revamp its schedule with younger-oriented shows like The Cape and The Event, the David E. Kelley drama that stars Bates as a pot-puffing attorney has quickly established itself as the network’s top series this season after only five weeks. ”It makes me feel really good,” says Bates, who already completed production on the show’s initial 12-episode order. ”It really toasted me, but toward the last couple of months I got my second wind. I really want to come back.” She hasn’t heard whether NBC wants the show for a second season, but it seems highly likely given those great ratings. Bates even has a request that could keep her burgeoning fan base engaged in the show. ”I would like to smoke more dope,” she says. ”That would be cool.”

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