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David E. Kelley

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Status: Single
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Biography

Born in Waterville, Maine, raised in Belmont, Massachusetts and attended the Belmont Hill School. Kelley was the son of a hockey coach and played the game himself. He was captain of the team at Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1979 with a degree in politics.

In 1986, Steven Bochco was searching for writers with a law background for his new NBC legal series, L.A. Law. His agent sent him Kelley's movie script for From the Hip. Enthusiastic, Bochco made him a writer and story editor for the show. During this first year, Kelley kept his law office in Boston as a hedge. However, his involvement in the show only expanded. In the second year, he became executive story editor and co-producer. Finally, in 1989, Bochco stepped away from the series making Kelley the executive producer. While executive producer, Kelley received two Emmys for Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series and the show received the award for Outstanding Drama Series for both years. For the first five seasons he was involved with the show, he wrote or co-wrote two out of three episodes. Kelley left after the fifth season in 1991 and ratings began to fall. As Newsday's TV critic wrote, "The difference between good and bad L.A. Law ... was David Kelley." Midway through the sixth season, both Bochco and Kelley were brought in as creative consultants after the show received bad press about its decline in quality.

Originally intending to write only the first several episodes in order to return full time to Picket Fences, Kelley eventually wrote most of the material for both shows -- a total of roughly 40 scripts. Expressing a desire to focus more on his production company and upcoming projects, Kelley ceased day-to-day involvement with both series in 1995, allowing others to write and produce. Towards the end of the fifth season in 1999, facing cancellation, Kelley fired all cast members added since he had left the show, brought back Mandy Patinkin and began writing episodes again.

His most recent new series, Wedding Bells, began airing at the beginning of 2007 and canceled after only seven episodes. Kelley is working on an Americanized version of the BBC show Life on Mars for the 2007-2008 season on ABC, an adaptation of Joseph Wambaugh's Hollywood Station, and a single-camera comedy about a jury for FOX.

Samuel G. Freedman, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, writing in the New York Times, praises Kelley's series Boston Public as an attempt to both reflect and change public opinion about public education, particularly the urban, overcrowded, underfinanced variety. He liked the realism of the setting, the mixed ethnicity of the faculty and (ofttimes antipathetic) student body and the bureaucratic struggles. He lambasted Kelley, though, for pandering to stereotypes of teachers and students and of failing to show successful teaching strategies.

Shared with Steven Bochco, William M. Finkelstein, Michele Gallery, Phillip M. Goldfarb, Scott Goldstein, Judith Parker, Rick Wallace, Alice West



 


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