The latest news from the TV beat

January 19, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

‘Public’ Access

Remember three years ago when David E. Kelley pulled off an unusual stunt by having Calista Flockhart and Dylan McDermott cross over between his Fox hit Ally McBeal and his then-struggling ABC series The Practice? Brace yourself, because Kelley’s got another kooky cross-network concoction up his sleeve: The Practice, now one of ABC’s highest-rated shows, will intermingle with his new series, Fox’s up-and-coming Boston Public starring Chi McBride. The story line — which features Public‘s Kevin Riley (Thomas McCarthy) seeking legal representation from The Practice‘s Ellenor Frutt (Camryn Manheim) and Jimmy Berluti (Michael Badalucco) in the wake of a teacher-student fling — commences on The Practice Feb. 11 and wraps up the following night on Public. ”This was one of the reasons David set the show in Boston,” says Public coexecutive producer Jonathan Pontell. ”It gave him flexibility in being able to cross over with The Practice — or Ally, which we still may do at some point.” Pontell predicts that this pairing will likely net his series its highest ratings yet. ”People love this kind of thing,” he says. ”It’s almost like ‘What’s wrong with this picture?”’ Adds Practice executive producer Bob Breech: ”We did take advantage of a special circumstance [in 1998], so we’re only too willing to accommodate David’s desire with respect to Boston Public. Turnabout is certainly fair play.” — Dan Snierson

Family Feud

What the heck is going on between The WB and 7th Heaven? Last month, a publicist for the show’s creator, Brenda Hampton, sent a letter to EW claiming that the do-good drama had received ”little if any promotional support from the network, which seems to have an unlimited promotional budget for the shows it feels are maybe more hip.”

So is the Frog a snob? Hardly, according to The WB’s exec VP of network communications, Brad Turell. ”7th Heaven is the number one show for female teens,” he says. ”So obviously, the word is getting out and a lot must be going right … 7th Heaven is a classic. We love this show, we love Brenda.”

Apparently, Hampton feels the love. ”I’m not complaining,” says Hampton, who claims she never read the letter before her overzealous flack sent it. ”Whatever they’ve done or not done, it’s worked for us. [But] we would always like to have more publicity.” — Brian M. Raftery

And so on … The plans for Friends‘ May sweeps nuptials between Monica and Chandler are proceeding apace. The maid of honor Rachel and best men Ross and Joey have been chosen, and now it seems there may be a surprise minister officiating at the wedding. ”We’re thinking that maybe Joey will perform the ceremony,” says executive producer Marta Kauffman. How would that be possible? According to Kauffman, Joey will become certified to do the honors through some Internet outfit. And you thought Who Wants to Marry a Multi- Millionaire? was a travesty … MTV got the thumbs-up from singer- actress-Puff Daddy squeeze Jennifer Lopez, who’ll lend her presence to its annual winter programming event Snowed In, which airs Feb. 3-4.

(Additional reporting by Tricia Johnson, William Keck, and Caroline Kepnes)

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