Kelley, David E. (1956—)

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Kelley, David E. (1956—)

With the success of the quirky hit Ally McBeal in the mid-to late 1990s, David E. Kelley established himself as the decade's preeminent producer-writer of popular television series. Hired by Steven Bochco to write for L. A. Law in 1986, Kelley demonstrated his aptitude early on for revealing the conflict between interior concerns and external realities, a gift that he can apply to drama and comedy with equal facility. At his best, Kelley creates programming that eschews formulaic plots and neat, tidy endings in favor of three-dimensional characters facing credible ethical dilemmas; these dilemmas, as notably in Ally McBeal, are often underscored by unsettling, self-reflexive fantasy commentaries that openly air difficult issues. He refined his techniques with some slightly surreal plots on Picket Fences (1992) and Chicago Hope (1994) before launching Ally McBeal and The Practice in 1998. Kelley, rare for a producer, writes much of every episode of his own productions. His judgment, acumen, and direct involvement has made him something of a television "auteur," and in 1999, he accomplished the unprecedented feat of a Golden Globe double, winning the Hollywood Foreign Press awards for both for the best comedy (Ally McBeal) and best drama series (The Practice). Kelley is married to actress Michelle Pfeiffer.

—Sandra Garcia-Myers

Further Reading:

Braxton, Greg. "The Man Behind the Curtain." Los Angeles Times magazine. November 30, 1997, 15.

Gates, Anita. "From Annie to Ally: Capturing the Insecure Human Condition." New York Times. December 20, 1998, 25.