James Spader joins ''The Practice.'' He'd replace Dylan McDermott in the wake of the show's cost-cutting mass layoffs

By Gary Susman
Updated June 12, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
James Spader: Tim Goodwin/Star Max/Newscom

Clearly, David E. Kelley hasn’t seen James Spader’s sadomasochistic turn in ”Secretary,” or he’d have had second thoughts about Spader’s unusual methods of office discipline. Nonetheless, Variety reports, Kelley has announced that he’s hired the actor as the lead in next fall’s streamlined version of ABC’s ”The Practice.” Spader will play a ”complicated, ethically challenged” attorney named Alan Shore, Kelley’s announcement said.

Spader will be replacing series lead Dylan McDermott, who, along with Lara Flynn Boyle, Kelli Williams, and several other cast members, was let go last month in an effort to cut the show’s production cost in half. Also joining the firm will be Rhona Mitra (”Sweet Home Alabama”), while veteran cast members Camryn Manheim, Michael Badalucco, Steve Harris, and Jessica Capshaw will be returning.

Kelley has his hands full with casting issues right now. He needs to replace several graduating actors from ”Boston Public.” He’s even replacing one of the stars of the yet-to-premiere fall series ”The Brotherhood of Poland N.H.” and reshooting the pilot.