Six years ago, David E. Kelley was either burning himself out or making his case to become one of the most prolific TV producers in history. Between Ally McBeal, The Practice, Chicago Hope, and Boston Public, the guy’s imprimatur was everywhere. But after a series of high-profile flops (girls club for Fox, The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire for CBS) and the cancellation of his older series, the producer all but disappeared.
With his ABC dramedy Boston Legal in the ”good hands” of the writing staff — ”I liken myself to David Ortiz of the Red Sox, a designated hitter that comes out when needed and keeps his mouth shut when not” — Kelley is working like it’s 1999. He’s overseeing four new projects, including an Americanized version of the BBC hit Life on Mars (”Assuming I don’t screw it up, the pilot will hopefully be on [ABC’s] fall schedule”), an adaptation of Joseph Wambaugh’s Hollywood Station into a police drama, and a single-camera comedy about a jury for Fox. That network has also ordered 13 episodes of a series about a group of wedding planners — a reimagining of a 2004 ABC pilot that Kelley shot starring Selma Blair. (”It’s like Six Feet Under, but they live.”)
Fans of Kelley’s older work will be happy to hear that some of his most beloved programs, including Picket Fences and The Practice, will be released on DVD in 2007, with Fences dropping first in February. But will his most iconic character ever make the transfer? ”You will see Ally McBeal,” says Kelley. ”That’s a little trickier than other series because there’s a lot of music and we haven’t tied up all the rights.” We’re excited, as long as there’s no commentary from the dancing baby.