David E. Kelley

Screenwriter, Consultant, Producer
Arguably one of the most prolific writer-producers in small screen history, former attorney David E. Kelley created some of television's quirkiest and unconventional shows, particularly in the normally staid legal ... Read more »
Born: 04/03/1956 in Waterville, Maine, USA

Filmography

Producer (20)

The Crazy Ones 2013 - 2014 (Tv Show)

Executive Producer

Ally McBeal 1987 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (Tv Show)

Executive Producer

Boston Public 1986 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (Tv Show)

Executive Producer

Chicago Hope 1986 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (Tv Show)

Executive Producer

Doogie Howser, M.D. 1986 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (Tv Show)

Supervising Producer

Harry's Law 1989 - 1995, 1997 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (Tv Show)

Executive Producer

L.A. Law 1986 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (Tv Show)

Executive Producer

Monday Mornings 1987 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (Tv Show)

Showrunner

Picket Fences 1986 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (Tv Show)

Executive Producer

The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire 1989 - 1995, 1997 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The Practice 1986 - 2004, 2010 - 2013 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Boston Legal 2004 - 2008 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The Wedding Bells 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The Law Firm 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

girls club 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Ally 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Snoops 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Lake Placid 1999 (Movie)

(Producer)

Mystery, Alaska 1999 (Movie)

(Producer)

To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday 1996 (Movie)

(Producer)
Actor (8)

Frankie and Johnny are Married 2004 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

TV Land Moguls 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

The 2001 TV Guide Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Ray Walston: No Antennae, Please 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Thirteenth Annual Genesis Awards 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Today at Night 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

The "L.A. Law" 100th Episode Special 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor
Writer (6)

Life on Mars 2008 (Tv Show)

Writer

Lake Placid 1999 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Mystery, Alaska 1999 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday 1996 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

From the Hip 1987 (Movie)

(From Story)

From the Hip 1987 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Biography

Arguably one of the most prolific writer-producers in small screen history, former attorney David E. Kelley created some of television's quirkiest and unconventional shows, particularly in the normally staid legal world. Kelley left his self-described boring job as a litigator to join the writing staff of Steven Bochco's hit "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994), where he eventually worked his way up to executive producer. He went on to co-create "Doogie Howser, M.D." (Fox, 1989-1993) with Bochco before branching out on his own to create the wildly quirky, but ratings-challenged "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96), which, despite critical adulation and two Emmy Awards, struggled to find an audience. Kelley ventured out into medical drama territory with the equally lauded "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000), while continuing his duties on "Picket Fences." But since he wrote all the scripts for both shows - much to the frustration of his writing staff - Kelley soon found himself burned out and forced to relieve himself of his responsibilities, which led to a decline in quality of both shows. After struggling to find his footing in the feature world with "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday" (1996) and "Lake Placid" (1999), Kelley reached the height of his creative and commercial powers with two divergent legal shows - "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004), a gritty, realistic look inside a Boston law firm, and "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002), a wildly fanciful show that featured character fantasies, song numbers and a unisex bathroom. By the time he spun-off "The Practice" into the even more successful "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-08), there was no doubt that Kelley was a powerful creative force in television the likes of which had not been seen since Garry Marshall dominated the small screen in the 1970s.

Relationships

Claudia Kelley

Daughter
born c. 1993 adopted by wife Michelle Pfeiffer in March of 1993 christened on November 13, 1993, given the name of Kelley

Michelle Pfeiffer Actor

Wife
Married Nov. 13, 1993; adopted daughter Claudia christened at same ceremony

EDUCATION

The Belmont Hill School

attended

School of Law, Boston University

Boston , Massachusetts 1983

Princeton University

Princeton , New Jersey 1979
was captain of the hockey team

Milestones

2004

Developed an unscripted series for NBC, a legal drama pitting contestants with law degrees against each other in a race for a partner position at a law firm

2002

Created and executive produced the FOX drama "Girl's Club"

1999

Wrote the black comedy-thriller "Lake Placid", starring Bridget Fonda as a paleontologist who teams with an eccentric billionaire to solve a mysterious death

1999

Scripted the hockey-themed feature "Mystery, Alaska"

1997

Wrote, created and executive produced the Fox series "Ally McBeal"; in fall 1999, Fox aired "Ally", a half-hour version of the series culled from previously aired material edited with unaired segments to create stand alone episodes; that half-hour version

1997

Wrote, created and executive produced the ABC legal drama "The Practice"; fired most of the original cast in the 2003 season to keep the cost down, but added James Spader as a lead character

1996

Co-produced and scripted "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday", adapting it from a play by Michael Brady; wife Michelle Pfeiffer co-starred as Gillian

1994

Created, wrote pilot (and most of first season's episodes) and executive produced the CBS medical drama "Chicago Hope"; dropped executive producer duties after one season, retaining title of 'executive consultant'; returned in spring 1999 to pen the seaso

1992

Formed own production company (David E Kelley Productions) and created, wrote and executive produced "Picket Fences" for CBS; relinquished executive producer reins for final season

1989

Served as writer, co-creator (with Bochco) and executive consultant on "Doogie Howser, M.D."; wrote premiere episode but involvement lessened with each passing season

1987

Feature screenwriting debut, "From the Hip"

1986

On the strength of his then unproduced "From the Hip" screenplay, recruited by executive producer Steven Bochco to work as writer and consultant on NBC's "L.A. Law"; quickly became show's head writer; assumed co-producer status as of the 1987-1988 season,

1983

Worked for three years in the litigation department of the mid-size Boston law firm Fine & Ambrogne, specializing in real estate and minor criminal cases

Raised in the Boston, Massachusetts area

Created and executive produced the ABC drama series "Snoops"

Bonus Trivia

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In 1999, Kelley became the first producer to win Emmy Awards in both the Drama Series and Comedy Series categories in the same year.

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"If you interview people or friends who work with me, they would say I'm private or internal or don't emote a lot. Yet I do it every day for 10 million people. I just don't do it for the 30 people I'm in the room with . . ."One thing I know I do now is that when I'm writing anything--if it's not in the front of my mind, then it's in the back of my mind--it's that my children will see it, my grandchildren will see it. If they ever ask me, 'Why did you write that?' I'll have an answer, and it won't be because I thought a lot of people would watch or that it was because I thought the networks would program it. That makes you a more resonsible producer." --David E Kelley quoted in Los Angeles Times Magazine, November 30, 1997.

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"The ideal time for writing a script is four days, though sometimes it has to be two or three days depending on the deadline. If it's two days, sometimes there are things I see that don't work as well. If I have two weeks, the scripts get kind of flabby and lack the adrenaline that a sense of deadline fills you with ... "I never even in college thought writing was something I intended to do. I guess I probably had characters in my head as a kid but never thought I'd put them into prime time," --Kelley quoted in The New York Times, March 2, 1998.

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"You know, he's like an idiot savant. I don't know if he could do anything else. It's like, can you understand how someone can drop a box of toothpicks and count how many there are? You can't. You'll never understand that. Well, that's like David Kelley. He's got a bunch of words all over the floor, and before you know it, there's just a script. He's just phenomenal that way. I can't figure it out. It hurts my brain when I try and figure out how he does what he does. I have read a lot of movies-of-the-week, for possible hiatus work, and a lot of them were legal dramas. But it's ridiculous to even consider doing another legal drama when you have David Kelley writing for you every week." --Camryn Manheim (of "The Practice") to Don Aucoin of The Boston Globe, April 11, 1999.

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"He trusts himself creatively. He has pure talent, he has craft, and he has clearly found a way to tap into his imagination that doesn't take a lot of time. When you add to that a tremendous work ethic, that's a hell of a package." --Kelley's mentor Steven Bochco to Joel Stein in Time, May 31, 1999.

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"David's only weakness as a writer is his unwillingness or his inability to let other writers into the process. He has such a clear idea of what he wants that it's just easier for him to do it than to guide someone else." --Bochco quoted in Los Angeles Times, November 30, 1997.

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